For more than 20 years, Michael Jackson was constantly in the spotlight of child molestation accusations, and six years after his death, the allegations continue. As one of his latest accusers, James Safechuck, recently issued a sworn statement that he was allegedly molested by Jackson for four years, many are beginning to wonder why the recent denouncers waited years after the singer’s death to come forward.
Although the King of Pop had a long history of helping, visiting, and befriending children, most didn’t seem to think anything of it other than perhaps it being a bit strange, until August 17, 1993, when the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) opened an investigation against Jackson after the father of a then 13-year-old boy accused the pop superstar of molesting his son.
According to court documents, Jackson’s friendship with the Chandler family began in May, 1992, shortly after his car broke down on Los Angeles’ Wilshire Blvd.
David Schwartz, the stepfather of 13-year-old Jordan Chandler, worked at a local car rental agency, where Jackson was given a free rental car in exchange for calling the young boy, who was said to be a fan.
For over a year, Jackson kept in contact with the young Chandler, and by May, 1993, met the boy’s biological father, Evan Chandler. Soon after, news swept through the nation quickly that Jackson was accused of sexual molestation after Evan became suspicious of the pop singer’s relationship with his son.
Although the case would eventually settle out of court for millions, the allegations against Jackson had only just begun.
In 2003, almost a decade after the Chandlers’ accusation, British television journalist Martin Bashir released Living with Michael Jackson, a documentary detailing Jackson’s life via interviews and outings that occurred from May, 2002, to January, 2003.
The documentary aired on Britain’s ITV1, and it was immediately evident that Bashir angled the show around negativity towards Jackson’s close relationship with children, in particular, a 13-year old cancer patient, Gavin Arvizo.
Throughout the documentary, Bashir repeatedly focuses on Jackson’s sleepovers with young children and his seemingly inappropriate behavior with minors. The negative reporting did not go unnoticed by fans and by the press, including the New York Times, which stated that Bashir’s form of reporting was “callous self-interest masked as sympathy.”
Michael Jackson issued a statement shortly after the release of the documentary, alleging that Bashir violated his trust and betrayed him.
“Martin Bashir persuaded me to trust him that his would be an honest and fair portrayal of my life, and told me he was ‘the man that turned Diana’s life around’.”
Regardless, the documentary set the stage for what would become the most well-known case against Jackson when in 2005, Gavin Arvizo’s parents filed molestation charges against the “Thriller” singer.
Court documents indicate that Gavin Arvizo was 13-years-old between February and March, 2003, the time period in which Jackson was accused of sexually molesting him as he stayed with the pop star at his Neverland Ranch, in Los Olivos.
Gavin, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, met Michael Jackson after the singer organized a blood drive and helped fund the boy’s chemotherapy treatments. Along with his mother, Janet, and his siblings, Gavin visited Jackson frequently at Neverland over the next several years without any indications that there was any illegal activities going on. That all changed once Bashir’s documentary gained worldwide popularity.
In an almost five-month grand jury trial in Los Angeles, defense attorneys fought the 14 charges against Jackson. Numerous witnesses were subpoenaed, including a skittish Bashir who tried in vain to get out of appearing in court.
Overwhelming evidence of the Arvizo family’s past infractions with the law helped convince the jury to find Jackson “Not Guilty” on all 14 charges, but it was also lack of evidence, inconsistencies, and Janet Arvizo’s false claims of being held captive at Neverland that led to his exoneration.
It was also the testimony of Wade Robson, who clearly stated that Michael Jackson had never molested him, that affirmed in the jury’s mind that the King of Pop was innocent.
Wade Robson and James Safechuck
Choreographer Wade Robson was one of the first people to testify and was one of the star witnesses during the 2005 trial against Jackson. The two met when Robson was just a young child, and according to Robson’s testimony, nothing except friendship and professional advice ever occurred between him and Jackson.
Yet, in 2013, Robson sued the Jackson estate after accusing Michael of molesting him from ages 7 to 14, between 1990 and 1997.
In 2014, another former child dancer, James Safechuck, announced that Jackson molested him from 1988 to 1992. They met on the set of a Pepsi commercial in 1987, and according to Safechuck, began a “brainwashing” relationship, with Jackson claiming he loved him.
“He continually brainwashed and drilled into me that what he was doing to me was ‘love’ and that I should deny that anything he had done to me ever happened. His constant drilling made me believe it was alright and I was scared and intimidated from ever telling anyone about it, doing anything about it or even understanding that it was something wrong.”
However, both Robson and Safechuck made their accusations several years after Jackson passed, which makes many fans wonder if they are coming forward now in an attempt to get money from the Jackson estate, which has an estimated net worth over around $1.125 billion.
Safechuck states that he came forward after learning of Robson’s accusation, and Robson himself claims that it was after the birth of his son that he realized that what had allegedly happened to him was wrong.
So far, Robson and Safechuck have not been awarded anything from the Michael Jackson estate, and whether either accuser will be granted a trial remains to be seen.
[Photos Courtesy of Getty Images]