The Conviction of Jerry Sandusky in Light of the Clueless Condemnation of Michael Jackson -
I’m sure you’ve all heard the news about Jerry Sandusky’s conviction on 45 out of 48 counts. I’ve hesitated to speak about this case because the media always overhypes sex-abuse cases-or just high profile cases in general. Nobody thought Casey Anthony would be acquitted last summer, and now she’s as free as a bird. I wanted to wait until the verdict came in before making up my mind. I often agree with jury’s verdicts. It doesn’t mean the person is innocent if acquitted, it means there wasn’t enough incriminating evidence, such as in the Anthony trial.
Seven years and twelve days ago, a shocking verdict was delivered in Santa Barbara County. Michael Jackson was acquitted on 10 felonies and 4 lesser included misdemeanors. While I’ve researched the Jackson allegations years ago and concluded he was innocent, my interest in them piqued a few months ago after watching some interviews where I learned that the media coverage in the trial was almost unanimously pro-prosecution. I was completely shocked. The prosecution’s case was the most bogus thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Many times, while reading court transcripts, I thought I was reading a satire and had to double check to make sure I wasn’t on some parody site.
It was ironic that I was researching the Jackson trial at the exact time the Sandusky trial was underway. It allowed me to make comparisons. Once again, everyone expected prison time, but this time, the media was right. But why? I made a mental list of all the evidence and reasons why both trials went different ways and was confident that both juries had made the right decisions.
I’ve wanted to be a journalist when I was about 15, but soon abandoned those dreams. But it was after learning about this media bias in the Jackson trial that my interest in the field resumed. Someone needs to tell the truth and not pander to some rating-raking agenda.
So for those of you who are curious and might not be remembering Michael Jackson’s death-which was exactly 3 years ago-as the loss of a tragic icon but that of a criminal, please reconsider.
“Stop judging by the way things look, but judge by what is really right.” John 7: 24
With the conviction of Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky just three days prior to the third anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson, there are bound to be comparisons between the sexual abuse cases brought against both-as there have been since the Sandusky allegations came to light. While there are some key similarities (multiple accusers, the leaking of the grand jury transcripts, the excessive pro-prosecution media coverage), the verdicts were polar opposites for very good, legitimate reasons.
The main thing that sunk the Jackson back in 2005 was lack of credibility. The accuser (Gavin Arvizo), his brother (Star) and mother (Janet) told three different versions of the alleged molestation-every single time they were asked to recall it-whether it be to the police or on the stand. For instance, in an interview with Santa Barbara police, Gavin Arvizo irrelevantly claimed his grandmother told him that if men don’t masturbate, they might rape a woman. Yet during his direct examination two years later, he credited thisidentical quote to Jackson. His erratic mother claimed she saw Jackson licking the top of her son’s head during a flight on his private jet-something she could not have seen considering the seating arrangements on the plane, according to her own son.
The third party witnesses that testified to seeing Jackson molest other young boys were either fired, sued or hated by the man and almost all had sold their stories to tabloids before speaking to authorities. One of the women making such claims was a former employee who had sifted through Jackson’s garbage and sold a painting he’d done of Elvis Presley for $30,000 and had subsequently been fired. Jackson’s former chef and butler, Philip Lemarque, was caught on tape saying that for $100,000, he would allege he saw Jackson touching Macauley Culkin’s crotch, but for $500,000, he would say he saw his hand going down the boy’s pants. What’s more, these other alleged victims-Culkin, Wade Robson and Brett Barnes-had all testified for Jackson’sdefense and denied the man ever touched them.
In the Jerry Sandusky case, the defense had a hard time crashing down on witnesses’ credibility. Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant who claimed to have seen Jerry Sandusky anally raping a 10 year old boy in the locker room back in 2001, reported this to his immediate supervisor-as required by his contract-Joe Paterno, the next day. While he was criticized for not going to the police, he did what was required of him, and had no personally vested interest in destroying Sandusky. In the Jackson case, people claimed to have seen things going on in the arcade and swimming pool at Neverland years ago only after the first molestation claims against Jackson surfaced.
But what possible motivation did the 10 boys in the Sandusky case have for making false allegations? A $20 million out of court settlement on the part of his insurance provider for “global claims of negligence” who wanted to see him finish his world tour and not spend 5 years in a courtroom? A $60 million dollar record deal so they could sing about the sexual abuse to refute his claims of extortion?
That’s precisely what happened to Michael Jackson in 1993, when a Beverly Hills dentist by the name of Evan Chandler accused Jackson of molesting his then 13-year-old son, Jordan. Chandler had hired the “nastiest son of a b*tch I could find” (referring to his lawyer, Barry Rothman, in secretly taped phone conversations) before reporting the incident to police. Chandler had also reportedly been thousands of dollars behind child support payments, and in divorce papers while battling for custody of his son, said he wanted his son to keep his distance from a male known as “Michael Joseph Jackson”.
Perhaps Chandler feared an inappropriate relationship between his son and Jackson. Why, then, could he only get a confession out of his son afteradministering to him a drug that is known for planting false memories? Why, then, did he file a litigation against Jackson right before the case was to go to a grand jury? Shouldn’t prosecution of this pedophile be his number one concern? Why, then, did his son refuse to cooperate with the authorities once Jackson’s insurance providers settled the civil part of the case? Why, then, did his own son file for legal emancipation as soon as it was permissable from his parents and tell at least three people, including a former University classmate, Josephine Zohny, that he hated his parents for making him turn on Jackson and that he never touched him? And why, if Evan was so concerned about his son’s safety, did he attempt to try and kill him in 2006 with a dumbbell and some mace? Of course we will never know the answers, because five months after Jackson’s death, Evan Chandler committed suicide. While over one billion people around the world tuned in to watch Jackson’s televised public memorial service, Chandler was quietly cremated, and no one attended his funeral.
Around the time of the Chandler allegations, another boy, Jason Francia, who testified against Jackson in 2005, claimed to have been tickled outside his jeans-which could very well have been an accident-when he was seven years old and received settlement money from a civil suit against Jackson after his mother, Blanca, had been fired as his maid and appeared on tabloid news show Hard Copy for a fee of $20,000.
While this doesn’t prove that Jackson is innocent, it doesn’t give one reason to believe he is guilty.
But when allegations surfaced exactly 10 years later, many thought that where there was smoke, there was fire. After all, Jackson had infamously said in a documentary by British “journalist” Martin Bashir, “The most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone”. Of course, what Jackson meant was giving your bed to someone else to sleep in while he was on the floor, but who bothered to listen? The Arvizos didn’t allege any abuse untilafterJackson made these statements and was already under investigation by the Santa Barbara Police Department and the Department of Child and Family Services! Interestingly enough, weeks after the Bashir film aired, someone leaked Jordan Chandler’s declaration to TheSmokingGun.com, in which Jordan alleges the same hair licking incident that Janet Arvizo claimed happened to her son. These two events started the ball rolling that eventually made the Gloved One the Cuffed One.
Similarly yet differently, it was a televised interview that put Jerry Sandusky’s case in jeopardy. He claimed to have been naked in a shower with boys after being questioned about McQueary’s allegations in an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas and hesitated before saying he wasn’t sexually attracted to young boys. While Michael Jackson vehemently denied any wrongdoing and emphatically stated, “I would slit my wrists before I ever hurt a child”, in an unaired portion of the interview, Sandusky inadvertently admitted guilt by stating, “I didn’t go around seeking out every young person for sexual needs that I’ve helped. There are many that I didn’t have — I hardly had any contact with who I have helped in many, many ways.’’ In other words, he’s innocent because he raped some, not all.
Jordan Chandler wasn’t ready to testify and didn’t have to since Jackson wasn’t indicted, but boy, was Gavin Arvizo! The Arvizo boys had taken acting lessons for years. In fact, their own mother would coach them and give them “scripts”, according to thier father. A couple of years before they wound up with Jackson, the boy had stolen from JC Penny, and his mother claimed that while they were being caught, security guards had tweaked her nipple about 25 times. (This, in broad daylight in a parking lot, but nevermind that). These allegations were proven untrue . The district attorney had brought a case to court based on accusations from proven liars-liars who had blatantly lied about the same sort of crime the man they were now prosecuting had been exonerated from by two independent grand juries ten years before!
The actions of the district attorneys in both trials was deplorable. In the Jackon trial, you had a guy who was beyond obsessed with seeing the music mogul go down, to the point where he sent 70 sherrifs to raid his ranch to find child porn and hired nine fingerprint experts all at the expense of California tax payers. He also falsified evidence in the grand jury room in 2004 by having the accusers touch magazines without gloves on and then sent them out to be analyzed for fingerprints. On the other hand, the district attorney investigating Jerry Sandusky had ignored prior allegations and deemed them as unfounded years before this trial. There had been allegations against Sandusky for decades .
Sandusky’s accusers never fell apart in cross examination as Jackson’s had. They hadn’t made false claims before, nor had they tried conning other coaches the way the Arvizos had conned other entertainers including Chris Tucker, George Lopez, Jay Leno, Louise Palankar, and Vernee Watson-Johnson. They didn’t waver from their telling of events and some of these same boys claim no interest in filing civil suits despite the man’s conviction. Their weepy testimony had the court in tears for several days, while several key prosecution witnesses in the Jackson case-including Francia-were literally laughed out of the room. Sandusky’s adopted son, Matt, claimed his father had molested him, but was only to take the stand if the defendant would. What possible motivation would this young man have to turn in the only father figure he knew to authorities, thus dissolving all ties to his adopted mother and siblings, if this weren’t true?
But it wasn’t just the lack of credibility that got Sandusky convicted on 45 of 48 counts. There was simply too much incriminating evidence. Why does a grown man need to shower with young boys? The defense used the “hygiene” excuse-that most of these young men were from low income background and didn’t know how to wash themselves. But why does Sandusky need to be naked himself to teach another how to lather?
While there was talk of loveletters between Jackson and his accusers, the notes are anything but scandalous. Sandusky’s defense couldn’t explain away the note their client had written to a young boy except to say it was due to histrionic personality disorder.
“Jordy, you’re not only my cousin but also my best friend. I can’t stop loving your mother and sister. I have found true love in all of you. If more people were like us the world would change instantly. I have such golden dreams for you. I want you to be a giant in the industry. You are my new inspiration. I love you. Doo doo head. Applehead. Disneyland soon. Love, doo doo. Call soon, bye, doo doo head. Tell Mom I love her.”
“I write because of the churning in my stomach when you don’t care. I still hope there will be meaning to the time we have known each other.”
Sounds more like the first man is enamoured with the mother of the child he is writing to, while the second is talking to a mistress he has just broken up with.
And yes-the first man is Jackson, while the second is Sandusky.
While this doesn’t prove Sandusky is guilty, it sure makes it hard to believe he is innocent. His accusers could very well be lying, but there was nothing to prove this.
Jerry Sandusky’s trial was over before many even knew the opening statements had been read, whereas the Jackson trial lasted nearly five months, feeding a media frenzy unlike any we’ve seen before, and hadn’t seen since until June 25, 2009. There was more accredited media covering People v. Jackson than OJ Simpson and Scott Peterson combined. And despite the overwhelmingly exculpatory evidence presented in court, most of the media coverage was self-serving and biased, alleging that Jackson would soon be trading his sequined glove and socks for orange prison garb. As his attorney Tom Mesereau recalled, the journalists in the courtroom were running out after direct examination to report the salacious tellings and completely missed out the cross examination that proved it all to be false.
Even though Sandusky was convicted in the minds of nearly every person who tuned into the media coverage, reporters were quick to point out that many considered him guilty until proven innocent. It seemed as if the embarassment they faced in their poor coverage of a similar, but much more high profile, case seven years ago had finally caught up with them. Several shows, including Anderson Cooper’s and Bill O’Reilly’s, brought Mesereau on as their expert source, where he detailed the way his client was railroaded by people jumping onto the false-claim train. Just a few weeks ago, O’Reilly, in his coverage of the Sandusky trial, listed the McMartin preschool and Jackson trials as examples of cases “where kids lie”. (Ironically enough, Dr. Stan Katz, the psychologist who examined both of Jackson’s accusers, was a key player in the McMartin incident.)
Three years after he left us, it’s refreshing to see that his legacy won’t be living on in just T-shirts and iPods, but that it also managed to change the media that scandalized and tortured him at every given opportunity. Perhaps now that there is a man that was rightfully convicted, people will be open minded enough to see why 7 years ago, another was rightfully acquitted.