5 Truly Disturbing Facts About Michael Jackson
A decade after his death, the “King of Pop” is back in the true crime spotlight — here’s a reminder why.
As the documentary Leaving Neverland is making headlines with its portrait of two men who allege superstar singer Michael Jackson sexually abused them throughout their childhoods, let’s take a look back at five noteworthy milestones involving the late King of Pop and his extremely troubling history.
1. Michael Jackson Claimed His Father, Joe Jackson, Violently Abused Him — & Joe Confirmed It.
Joe Jackson fathered 11 children in total and managed eight of them to various degrees of music stardom. The most notable include his daughters Janet and Latoya Jackson, and his sons who comprised the Jackson 5, the superstar pop group that spun off, of course, a young dynamo named Michael Jackson.
As Michael came of age and spoke with increasing openness about Joe’s approach to both parenting and management, he portrayed his dad as a terrifying tyrant who regularly inflicted violence on him and his siblings in pursuit of perfection.
In 2003, Michael said that Joe lorded over Jackson 5 rehearsals “with a belt in his hand” and that, if he or one of his brothers made a mistake, their dad would “tear you up, really get you.”
Elaborating on the situation, Michael said, “I just remember hearing my mother scream, ‘Joe you’re gonna kill him, you’re gonna kill him, stop it. I was so fast he couldn’t catch me half the time, but when he would catch me, oh my God it was bad, it was really bad.”
Later in 2003, Joe Jackson backed up Michael’s claims about beating his children and said he didn’t regret any of it. Talking to Oprah Winfrey, Joe stated, “It kept them out of jail and it kept them right.”
2. Police Arrested Michael Jackson In 1993 On Suspicion Of Child Sexual Abuse; The Singer Later Settled With His Accuser For $23 Million
In 1992, Michael Jackson befriended Jordan Chandler, a 12-year-old fan. As was the case with Jackson and other young boys, the pair grew close in a manner that sparked rumors about an inappropriate relationship. The following year, Jordan Chandler’s father accused Jackson of sexually abusing his son.
On August 21, 1993, the LAPD’s Sexually Exploited Child Unit executed a search warrant on Neverland Ranch, Michael Jackson’s storied live-in compound. Jackson promptly canceled the world tour he was on, returned home, fell ill, and went to drug rehab.
Shortly after the raid, Jordan’s preteen friends Brett Barnes and Wade Robson stated at a press conference that they, too, had slept in the same bed as Michael Jackson, but nothing untoward had happened.
Years later, as an adult, Wade Robson would dramatically change his story. He sued Jackson in 2013, and lost, and was later one of the subjects of the 2019 documentary, Leaving Neverland.
In December 1993, the LAPD served Jackson with a strip search warrant to determine if his genitals matched the physical description reportedly supplied by Jordan Chandler.
Amid a frenzied media circus, the police ultimately never pressed criminal charges. In 1994, however, Michael Jackson settled out of court with the Chandler family for $23 million. [Vanity Fair]
3. Arrested In 2003 For Sexual Abuse, Michael Jackson Beat The Rap 2 Years Later
On February 3, 2003, ABC aired the extremely controversial documentary Living With Michael Jackson. It was written and directed by Martin Bashir, a British journalist who lived for eight months on Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
On camera, Bashir asks Jackson point-blank about the singer’s habit of sharing his bed with young boys. Jackson defensively responds, “Its not sexual, we’re going to sleep. I tuck them in … it’s charming!”
Few actually seemed charmed by Jackson after the documentary, and further investigations followed. On December 18, 2003, officers arrested Michael Jackson and charged him with seven counts of child sexual abuse and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to commit felony child sexual abuse against one particular alleged victim, 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo.
Michael Jackson stood trial on February 28, 2005, in Santa Barbara, California. Raucous crowds gathered outside the courthouse, the media reported every detail with crazed fervor, and multiple witnesses for both the prosecution and the defense testified to massive fanfare.
Ultimately, the jury deliberated for 32 hours over seven days. On June 14, 2005, Michael Jackson was found not guilty on all charges. [Billboard]
4. Photos Of Nude Children & Animal Abuse: What Cops Found In The 2003 Neverland Ranch Raid Finally Comes To Light
Michael Jackson may have died from drug poisoning in 2009 — an event that ignited a legal firestorm of its own involving his physician, Dr. Conrad Murray — but allegations that the singer spent years sexually abusing children continue to crop up.
In 2016, a previously unreleased police report from Michael Jackson’s 2003 arrest was made public. The report states that officers found photos of nude children, animal abuse, and other illicit materials during a raid on Neverland Ranch.
According to Radar Online, the shocking items included gay and straight pornography — some involving teens, some with BDSM content — and images that included what one inspector described as “animal sacrifice” and “a child holding a dead goose that appears to have been bludgeoned to death.”
Another private investigator told Radar that Jackson would even use sexy photos of his own nephews (his brother Tito’s sons) in their underwear to show to other young boys in order to arouse them.
District Attorney Tom Sneddonc claimed that was always Jackson’s motive: to wear down young boys so he could more easily abuse them. As Snodden put it, “The materials described … are relevant to the issues of the defendant’s intent and his method of ‘grooming’ young boys to satisfy his lewd desires.”
Gavin Arvizo, Jackson’s 13-year-old accuser, alleged that the singer spoke to him and his brother repeatedly about the benefits of masturbation and mutual masturbation. One of the books found in Jackson’s possession seems to be a “how-to” primer for homosexual men and featured a study of masturbation as well as oral and anal sex acts.
Still, it must be noted that Michael Jackson was acquitted in 2005 of all charges related to these findings and he is no longer alive to further defend himself. [CrimeFeed]
5. The Michael Jackson Estate Filed A $100M Lawsuit To Quash The 2019 Documentary Leaving Neverland
Leaving Neverland (2019) is a two-part, four-hour documentary directed by British journalist Dan Reed that investigates allegations made against Michael Jackson by Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck.
The two men claim that Michael Jackson sexually abused them throughout their childhoods, undertaking relationships with them when Robson was seven and Safechuck was 10. The movie explores how the supposed abuse shaped the accusers’ lives from the time it happened into adulthood, when each man is now the father of a son himself.
Leaving Neverland debuted to shock and acclaim at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
Michael Jackson’s family vehemently protested the screening, calling it a “one-sided hit piece” and a “posthumous character assassination.” Taj Jackson, the singer’s nephew, even launched a crowd-funding campaign to make an answer film that would dispute Robson and Safechuck’s claims.
After Leaving Neverland played to standing ovations, HBO picked it up to be broadcast in March 2019. Ten days prior to the film’s scheduled premiere, however, the Jackson estate sued to prevent HBO from showing it.
In addition to seeking $100 million in damages, the estate’s suit cites a 1992 concert special deal wherein HBO agreed to not “make any disparaging remarks concerning Performer or any of his representatives, agents, or business practices or do any act that may harm or disparage or cause to lower in esteem the reputation or public image of Performer.” Leaving Neverland, the lawsuit claims, violates that 27-year-old contract.
HBO responded to the suit by stating, “Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged. HBO will move forward with the airing of Leaving Neverland, the two-part documentary, on March 3rd and 4th. This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves.” [Slate]
For more about the "King of Pop," watch Investigation Discovery's Barbara Walters Presents Michael Jackson: The Man In The Mirror on ID GO now!