Jackson accuser is ‘very happy’ with settlement – 1994

Posted by

Copyright 1994 BPI Communications, Inc. The Hollywood Reporter January 26, 1994, Wednesday LENGTH: 834 words HEADLINE: Jackson accuser is ‘very happy’ with settlement BYLINE: Jeffrey Jolson-Colburn BODY: Michael Jackson’s 14-year-old accuser is “very happy” with the resolution announced Tuesday in the molestation case, according to his attorney, who negotiated a settlement that sources pegged at between $8 million and $12 million (HR 2/25). In making the announcement, Jackson attorneys Howard Weitzman and Johnnie Cochran strongly maintained the singer’s innocence, withdrew the extortion accusations against the boy’s father and said Jackson settled just to put the matter behind him. The attorneys refused to confirm any cash settlement and blamed the media for dragging Jackson through the mud. The boy’s attorney, Larry Feldman, said he still believed his client was molested or he would not have filed the suit, but that the boy needed to “start the healing process.” He spoke at length to a full-court media blitz at the Santa Monica Courthouse that featured hundreds of cameras and a sea of TV satellite dishes. Feldman’s comments also appeared to presage the stymie of possible criminal charges by the Los Angeles County District Attorney, who would be unlikely to proceed with the case without the full cooperation of the boy as a key witness. While the district attorney could issue the boy a subpoena, minors in the state of California are not required to testify in molestation cases. And it appears that the boy already has a phalanx of psychiatrists ready to state further involvement in the affair would be injurious. “This young boy has been seen by the most prominent psychiatrists and psychologists in America from one side of the coast to the other side of the coast,” Feldman said. “He cannot heal, he cannot get better unless this matter is put behind him.” “It’s very likely the boy won’t want to cooperate, and the state lacks the authority to force him to cooperate by threatening him with contempt,” said UCLA law professor Peter Arenella. Plus his parents would hardly want him “exposed to public scrutiny and media scrutiny in a criminal trial.” Technically, however, it would be illegal for the boy to promise he wouldn’t cooperate with a criminal probe. “Nobody has bought any-one’s silence,” Feldman said. “I am very happy with the resolution of this matter,” said Feldman. The boy, Feldman told reporters, was also “very happy with the resolution of this matter.” A joint statement from Weitzman and Cochran, and read by Cochran, proclaimed Jackson’s innocence. “Michael Jackson has maintained his innocence since the beginning of this matter and now, since this matter will soon be concluded, he still maintains that innocence,” the statement said. “The resolution of this case is in no way an admission of guilt by Michael Jackson. In short, he is an innocent man who does not intend to have his career and his life destroyed by rumors and innuendo,” it said. Jackson will speak out publicly about the case at an undetermined time, his attorneys said. The civil suit filed last September alleged that Jackson, 35, committed sexual battery, seduction, willful misconduct, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud and negligence in a campaign to entice the boy. Based on the boy’s sex allegations, authorities in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties began a criminal investigation that has continued for five months. No charges have been filed. Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti had no immediate comment, said his spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons. Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon Jr. said he had no comment in the civil suit and he refused to discuss the county’s Jackson criminal investigation. Throughout the ordeal, Jackson and his lawyers denied the molestation allegations, saying they were the result of a failed $ 20 million extortion attempt by the boy’s father and lawyer. When the scandal began, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the father, who co-scripted and associate produced the 20th Century Fox feature “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” with director Mel Brooks, attempted to establish a new production company with the singer that carried a price tag of $ 20 million for the launch. In addition, the father — who is also a Beverly Hills “dentist to the stars” with clients like actor Christian Slater and studio chairman Sherry Lansing — wanted Jackson to use his influence to set up a studio tie-in, possibly at Sony where Jackson has his deal, sources said. Jackson reportedly declined to be involved. Jackson’s lawyers also blasted media coverage of the case. “Throughout this ordeal he has been subjected to an unprecedented media feeding frenzy, especially by the tabloid press,” their statement said. “The tabloid press has shown an insatiable thirst for anything negative and has paid huge sums of money to people who have little or no information and who barely knew Michael Jackson. “So today the time has come for Michael Jackson to move on to new business, to get on with his life, to start the healing process and to move his career forward to even greater heights,” it said. LOAD-DATE: January 26, 1994

Leave a Reply