Jewish World Review June 15, 2005 / 8 Sivan,
Justice for Jacko
For months I avoided reading anything about the Michael Jackson
case. It's the kind of story I try to avoid on principle: salacious,
celebrity-focused, with little long-term significance. So I was surprised at
my own reaction when the verdict in his molestation trial came down:
acquitted on all counts. I was furious. How could he get off on all charges,
I fumed. Suddenly, the story millions of Americans had been obsessing about
since Jackson's April 2004 indictment ensnared me, too.
Shortly after the verdict was announced, I tuned in to the jurors' press
conference which was a little like watching paint dry. Not much
information there. I read the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today
coverage. I probably would have tuned over to FOX News Channel to see what
Greta Van Susteren and guests had to say if my husband hadn't intervened.
"Who cares?" he pleaded as I ate dinner glued to the TV.
And I wondered that myself. Why do we care? Michael Jackson has become a
one-man freak show. He's disfigured his face, emaciated his body and
squandered his considerable talent. The man is so desperate for attention
that he'll dangle his own child from a hotel window. He pretends to be
childlike and innocent, but he's a middle-aged man who admits he likes
sleeping with little boys. In short, he's disgusting. But the U.S. legal
system requires more than suspected deviancy to put a man behind bars. And
here, apparently, the prosecution in the Michael Jackson trial came up
The Santa Barbara County, Calif., prosecutors' case rested almost
exclusively on witness testimony as opposed to forensic evidence. And the
prosecution's chief witnesses were badly flawed. The alleged victim's mother
turned everybody off. The defense demonstrated that she had a penchant for
rip-off schemes, and when she took the stand early in the case, she provided
MJ with his get-out-of-jail-free card. Who lets their 13-year-old boy sleep
in the bed with an adult male, much less one as weird as Michael Jackson?
The mother's motives were suspect, and, by default, her son's accusations
became suspect as well.
As Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, points out in his
commentary on the Jackson verdict in National Review Online: "The law says a
person cannot be convicted because of his propensity to do evil." McCarthy
notes that the law does allow evidence of past, uncharged crimes to be
admitted at the trial as evidence of motive, opportunity or other factors
that bear on the case being tried. In the Jackson trial, some of the
witnesses who testified about other alleged instances of abuse by Jackson
actually may have weakened the case not because the jury didn't believe
them, but because their testimony made the case involving this alleged
victim look even less compelling.
The verdict won't help Michael Jackson regain his deservedly sullied
reputation or boost his career, but he will remain free. Unfortunately, that
may mean he can continue to prey on children with their greedy parents'
consent. Maybe the next prosecution ought to be against any parent who lets
his or her child within 100 yards of this man.
JWR contributor Linda Chavez is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity. Her latest book is "Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)