I've been keeping up with the Michael Jackson case and all I can think of is this: Could there be a more blatant example of a shakedown family than the mother of the victim in this case? Don't get me wrong, it's entirely possible that Michael Jackson molested these kids, and if so, he should be punished like any other molester (here in California that invariably means many years in prison, perhaps life). However, it may just be that he's a freak who is not a molester, but certainly primed for being shaken down because he's so bizarre.
I tend to be skeptical of wackos like Jacko, despite my typical public defender leanings. In general, I'm more sympathetic towards poor clients who haven't had the best of guilded opportunities their whole life rather than rich defendants who get the royal treatment everywhere they go, and still screw up. But, this doesn't mean that Jackson should rot in prison.
The case for a shakedown seems ever more obvious with every revelation that comes in this case. The family insisted for so long that Jackson was wonderful to them and never did anything wrong, even in response to a Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services interview after the Bashir tape aired. They took money from him, they spoke on a rebuttal tape glowingly about him, and they stayed with him for a long time. I know that they allege that they were forced to do this, but I don't believe that for a second. Apparently, they hung around Westlake or Calabasas for the longest time cruising around in the lap of luxury with Jackson's assistants, making hour long phone calls to the mother's boyfriend in Los Angeles (a boyfriend who was a member of the military - like he'd just sit around and take it if they tried to kidnap his girlfriend and her family). Add to this the fact that she hit up every other star she met for money, and filed a bogus lawsuit against JC Penny where she got her kids to lie for her about sexual misconduct, and I believe you have reasonable doubt.
Except one nagging problem I have. I was talking with some of my co-workers a couple of weeks ago and I played this theory out, and when I was done (I had been arguing both sides), two of them said that they found the argument devestating against Jackson, and that, knowing what they did about the weaknesses of the family's credibility, they'd still find him guilty. It goes something like this:
Most people are not exceptionally paranoid about molestation charges. But, personally, after the McMartin allegations of the mid-80's and the hysteria that swept the nation putting probably innocent people in prison on outrageous claims, I became a little concerned. There was one point I lived in an area with my then-fiancee (now wife) during law school where many little kids would hang out playing outside of my townhouse during the day while I was home studying or otherwise screwing around. These 2 cute little girls next door (probably 6 and 3) used to love stopping by and bugging me, and they were so adorable I didn't mind. One time, they came by and invited themselves inside like only little kids can do and began chattering while I was trying to study (or watch TV, far more likely knowing my study habits). At some point I got worried and thought, I really shouldn't have these 2 little girls hanging at my house without anyone else around. Thoughts of me being dragged away in handcuffs, my life ruined, all because their mother and her boyfriend decided to blame some of their woes on me and make up a molestation claim went through my head (alright, law school can make you a little paranoid, but just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they're not out to get you). I gently ushered them out and never let them in my place again without anyone else around.
Michael Jackson had good reason to be exceptionally paranoid about molestation complaints. In 1993, he escaped being charged with child molestation by the skin of his teeth and by virtue of a $25 million payoff. He had every reason to be more paranoid than not just me, but almost anyone else you could imagine. He should have been so concerned about future allegations, especially knowing about his close call and the fact that everyone thought he was a freak, that he would be extra careful from then on. Alright, so he loves kids, he loves his child-like lifestyle, and wants kids around. But what kind of wierd compulsion propelled him to have little kids around him in such close poximity, without any other adults present, without any objective proof that he wasn't doing anything untoward towards them. You have to wonder what kind of unnatural needs he had that he would continue to put himself in the position of being accused, after having gone through it so seriously once before, that he continued associating with kids in this "unnatural" manner. This kind of wierd compulsion is the type associated with someone who cannot control their behavior, and of one who has something to hide, rather than being open about everything. If he was paranoid about not being wrongfully accused, he would've invited disinterested adults to observe his conduct any time they wanted, he would've had cameras everywhere to ensure he was not doing anything wrong. Instead, he did the exact opposite, he kept kids away from responsible adults, he fashioned a system that allowed him to be far away and unable to be surprised by other adults. These actions were the type of a person who had an unnatural compulsion to do wrong, not a compulsion to avoid even an appearance of impropriety.
He may be innocent, but I don't understand how someone who had been through this once before could even allow himself to get put in that position again.