NOTE: For many years Fischer’s article has been hailed by Jackson’s loyal fans as the definitive report on the 1993 scandal, and they have kept it posted on their Web site for all to see. It has, in effect, become their bible. On September 1, 2004, I noticed that Fischer’s article was gone. A note stated that Fischer had “a change of heart” and her attorneys requested that the article be removed.
UPDATE – In October 2012, seeing an opportunity to make some money off the continued fan interest in Jackson, Mary A. Fischer published the magazine article as a decidedly slim paperback. She added nothing but a forward – no new information, no corrections to errors in her story (many of which are highlighted below), and she omits valuable contemporary information which sheds new light on the story (for example, why was the FBI quick to arrest a man for attempting to extort Jackson, but didn’t arrest Evan Chandler? Of course, because Evan Chandler never attempted to extort Jackson).
However, there is one telling indication that Fischer is not a competent journalist, which throws her whole article into disrepute. In the new foreward she states in regards to the boy in her story:
“Jordie Chandler, now 33, admitted publicly in 2009 that he had lied about the allegations and that he was deeply sorry.”
This is breathtakingly atrocious journalism. In fact, you couldn’t call it journalism. Anybody can Google jordie chandler confession and come up with a bunch of fan and junk links, but not one reputable news report about the incident. In fact, one of the few reputable links on the first page of Google is snopes.com. The snopes website specializes in confirming or debunking urban myths and this is what they have to say about this particular myth:
The above-quoted article claiming Jordan Chandler has since confessed that his father coerced him into lying about the sexual abuse charges against Jackson first appeared a few days after the singer’s death on 25 June 2009. Given that the sole source[broken link] of this information appears to have been a single poorly-worded statement which was reproduced verbatim on multiple blogs, and that no mention of Jordan Chandler’s supposed confession (or any statement from Chandler) has appeared in the news media despite the continuous crush of Michael Jackson coverage since the entertainer’s passing, we have to categorize this one as false.
As you can see the original link is broken, however the “confession” is here
What kind of “journalist” doesn’t even spend a few moments on a Google search to at least semi-verify information? Read her article with a very large grain of salt.
In October, 1994, GQ Magazine published a cover story by Mary A. Fischer titled “Was Michael Framed?”. Fischer described her piece as “a persuasive argument” that Jackson was innocent of child molestation and that Evan Chandler and his attorney, Barry Rothman, had perpetrated “a well-conceived plan” to extort money.
In a nutshell, Fischer argued that the plan consisted of wresting control of Jordie from his mother, planting false memories of molestation in the boy’s head through the use of a hypnotic drug, and then making extortion demands on Jackson.
The following analysis offers a persuasive argument that Mary Fischer created a report that was at best extremely sloppy, and at worst intentionally false. One of the prime examples of Fischer’s ineptitude is her manipulation of the dialogue found on the secret tape recording of Evan Chandler. This was discussed in All That Glitters and will not be repeated here. But it is a key factor in any analysis of Fischer’s article
It is inevitable that anyone seeking to exonerate Jackson would have to explain why a grown man of thirty-five found it necessary to sleep alone in bed with a child of thirteen. In defense of such behavior Fischer repeated the standard Jackson mantra that these were “sleepovers” that are not so unusual when seen in the light of Michael’s childhood. Admitting that Michael’s father, Joe Jackson, was “a strict man who reportedly beat his children,” Fischer concluded that Michael’s childhood resulted in an “arrested development” that gave rise to “a child in a man’s body,” and that Michael was merely making up for the childhood he never had.
An adult with an arrested development as the result of child abuse is not necessarily a child molester. But when you add the fact that the adult is repeatedly sleeping alone with a number of young boys, a red flag would be raised for any expert on pedophilia. Fischer lowered that flag with the following quote from Dr. Philip Resnick, who she described as a noted Cleveland psychiatrist.
Given the current confusion and hysteria over child sexual abuse, any physical or nurturing contact with a child may be seen as suspicious. (Italics added.)
Dr. Resnick’s statement is generic; there is no indication that it was made in response to the specific facts of the Jackson case. Fischer did not provide these facts. She reported only that Jordie and his mother traveled around the world with Jackson and received expensive gifts, and that Jackson and Jordie had “sleepovers.”
Here are some specific facts of the 1993 case not found in Fischer’s article.
It is undisputed that Michael slept alone with Jordie on a consistent basis for several months: at Jordie’s Los Angeles home for thirty nights, at Neverland, at Michael’s Century City apartment, and in hotel rooms in Las Vegas, New York, Orlando, Monaco and Paris. This information appeared in court documents and in the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) report. Fischer claimed to have seen the court documents, and she quoted from the DCS report in her article.
In the risk assessment section of the DCS report, under the heading “Severity and or frequency of abuse, physical or sexual,” the investigator checked the “high risk” box, as opposed to low or medium.
These one-on-ones with Jordie (and other boys) can hardly be called “sleepovers.” Nor were they the result of children mobbing Jackson’s bedroom at Neverland, as he claimed.
Fischer also did not report that the expensive gifts to the boy’s mother included several pieces of jewelry worth tens of thousands of dollars each, shopping sprees with Michael’s credit card in top-line European stores, and that Jackson promised to permanently support the mother and her children.
Fischer stated that Jordie’s mother, June, never viewed the sleepovers as odd until the authorities became involved. But the facts are that June confronted Jackson and her son the very first time they spent the night together. In response, Jackson cried and convinced her that it was all very innocent, then, after she acquiesced, he gave her an expensive piece of jewelry. Several months later, when first interviewed by authorities, June stated that she believed her son was molested and that no one could have convinced him to say he was (if it was not true). June’s admission is in the DCS report.
Also unmentioned by Fischer, but certainly known to her, was that while Jackson’s spokespersons were telling the public that he was the innocent victim of an extortion plot, his lawyers were telling the judge that if Jordie’s civil lawsuit was not postpone for six years until the statute of limitations on child abuse had expired, Jackson would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege to keep silent.
Fischer must also have known (because it had been reported in the press) that Jackson did invoke the fifth in a 1994 lawsuit when asked about his relationships with young boys. Fischer discussed the 1994 lawsuit later in her article (reviewed below), but made no mention of this fact.
In 1993 two other boys admitted on TV that they slept in the same bed with Jackson, but, as Fischer reported, both denied there was any sexual content to the relationships.
In the context of the specific facts of the Jackson case, it defies logic to believe that Dr. Resnick or any other professional would have considered Michael’s pattern of sleeping with young boys to be harmless “physical or nurturing contact.” If Jordie had been Resnick’s patient, would the doctor have sent him back to Jackson’s bed?
As will soon be discussed, Fischer rejected as incompetent the opinions of every child abuse professional who interviewed Jordie, and every detective who investigated the case. Instead, she relied on the comments of two psychiatrists, who interviewed no one and took no part in the investigation.
Use of Anonymous and Biased Sources
Fischer claimed that the information in her article might have been used in 1993 to provide a defense for Jackson and bolster the extortion charges against Evan and Barry Rothman. Part of that information consisted of several pages of biographical information on the personal and professional lives of Evan, Barry and Mark Torbiner, the dental anesthesiologist who often worked with Evan. Much of this information involved such things as lawsuits brought by patients, alleged problems with licensing boards, past business dealings, and acrimonious statements from ex-spouses and office employees.
Curiously, Fischer did not include any of the well-published biographical information on Jackson. In a 1991 biography, Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness, J. Randy Taraborrelli revealed the various hoaxes Jackson perpetrated on his fans to get them to buy more records, and he described the singer as a cold-hearted, paranoid man who trusted no one and would ruthlessly fire hard-working and loyal employees without notice.
As for legal problems, during the 1993 scandal Jackson was also a defendant in a lawsuit involving allegations of copyright infringement. And in 1994 he was sued by former employees who claimed they were fired because they knew too much about his involvement with young boys. There can be no doubt that a star of Jackson’s magnitude was constantly involved in lawsuits.
But so what. Most, if not all, of the biographical data Fischer provided (or failed to provide) would never have seen the light of day in a courtroom. A dental malpractice suit against Evan Chandler, or nasty comments about Barry Rothman by his ex-wife, are as irrelevant to an extortion charge as a lawsuit against Jackson for copyright infringement is to a child molestation charge. Even the flak Michael caught in 2003 for dangling his infant over a hotel balcony has no bearing on whether is a pedophile.
That being said, the background information on Evan Chandler might have been of interest to Fischer’s readers, therefore it deserves scrutiny.
Fischer’s article contained a multitude of negative quotes from various sources about Evan Chandler. Nine of these were from unnamed sources: “a family friend,” “a second source,” “a former colleague.” Of the quoted sources that were named, all turned out to be either paid employees of Jackson or otherwise heavily biased: Anthony Pellicano, Bert Fields, Michael Freeman (June’s attorney), and an attorney who represented a former patient of Evan’s in a malpractice suit.
If the unidentified sources do exist and actually did make the statements attributed to them, how odd that not one of them came forward to support Michael when it counted, or cash in on the huge amounts of money the tabloids were paying during the peak of the scandal.
Nevertheless, Fischer gave her unnamed sources full credence and used them to present a biography of Evan Chandler for the purpose of portraying him as a personality prone to commit extortion.
- According to Fischer, a “former colleague” of Evan’s stated that in 1973 Evan changed his last name to Chandler because his original name “sounded too Jewish.” In a phone call initiated by Anthony Pellicano, Evan’s mother (then 79 years old) told the PI that many of Evan’s patients found the name difficult to pronounce and spell. She further stated that Evan’s father, a dentist as well, also considered changing his name.Yes, Evan did not like his original name, but had Fischer bothered to contact Evan’s family she would have learned that although Evan wasn’t religious, he was not ashamed of being Jewish. At the outbreak of war in 1968 he called the Israeli embassy and volunteered to fight.But even if Evan was ashamed of being Jewish, what was Fischer’s point? It no more made him an extortionist than altering skin color and facial features made Jackson a child molester.
- Fischer next quoted “a family friend” who allegedly said that Evan “hated being a dentist” and “always wanted to be a writer.” Fischer followed this by claiming that Evan moved to Los Angeles in the late 1970s because he wanted to become a screenwriter, and that in 1978 he wrote a script but couldn’t sell it.It is true that by 1993 Evan Chandler had a love-hate relationship with dentistry, like many men do with their profession after practicing for twenty years. It is false that Evan always wanted to be a screenwriter and that he moved to Los Angeles for that purpose. In the early eighties, Evan’s goal was to develop real estate. In 1980 he bought a home in Santa Monica and became immersed in a major remodel, which he hoped to parlay into additional real estate projects. I worked with him for one year on that remodel.No one in Evan’s immediate family had ever heard him express a desire to be a screenwriter prior to the 1990s, nor were they aware of any screenplays he had written prior to Robin Hood: Men In Tights. Fischer, who claims to have conducted “scores of interviews,” made no attempt to contact any member of Evan’s family.
Fischer was apparently inferring that Evan’s desire to leave dentistry and become a screenwriter was his motive for extorting Jackson. But later in her article she quoted Pellicano saying that it was he who introduced screenwriting deals into the settlement negotiations. A series of letters between Pellicano and Rothman in August of 1993 confirms this fact.
True, in 1993 a nod from Michael Jackson could advance anyone’s career. But the suggestion that Evan extorted Michael to launch a screenwriting career is belied by the fact that Evan was a successful screenwriter before he met Jackson. He had not only sold his first screenplay, a rare accomplishment, but it had been made into a profitable movie, an even rarer accomplishment.
Most important, perhaps, is that Jackson had offered Evan all sorts of benefits, including working together on screenplays. All Evan had to do to reap those benefits was to allow the singer access to Jordie. It worked for many other parents, including the boy’s mother. But when Evan discovered that his son was being harmed by Jackson, he hired an attorney and set about trying to get rid of him. Fischer knew this, because it was on the secret tape. Whether or not she believed Evan’s motives, she had his words and could have presented his side of the story.
- Fischer quoted another “family friend” who supposedly said that June divorced Evan “because of his temper.” When asked in a 1994 deposition about Evan’s violence, June said that in January of 1992 she had heard of an argument between Evan and his then wife, Monique that became physical. But June never mentioned any violence by Evan toward her. And she stated that other than the 1992 incident she knew of no reason why Evan presented a danger to Jordie.Fischer went on to say that when Evan and June were divorced in 1985, “the court awarded sole custody of the boy to his mother and ordered Chandler to pay $500 a month in child support,” but court documents showed that in 1993 Evan still owed June $68,000 dollars in back child support.The facts of the divorce are as follows. The divorce documents showed that it was a do-it-yourself divorce with no attorneys involved. (Evan personally filled in the forms and made the selections.) In other words, all provisions were uncontested, including the custody and child support arrangements.
As with all uncontested divorces, the court was nothing more than a rubber stamp. But Fischer’s use of the phrase “The court awarded sole custody of the boy to his mother” implies that the court was actively involved in handing down the custody and child support provisions, and that it may have been the result of weighing the fitness of the parents. In the context of her story, Fischer’s choice of words could suggest that the court agreed Evan was violent.
Regarding the child support issue, there was an August 17, 1993, court order requiring Evan to pay past-due support. But Dave and June later testified that Evan never owed the child support. Dave admitted that they made the claim (through their attorney, Michael Freeman) to put pressure on Evan to back off on his attempt to end the relationship between Jordie and Michael, a relationship Dave and June later agreed involved molestation.
Fischer could not have known about Dave and June’s testimonies. But she did talk to Freeman, who apparently did not know, or did not offer, the truth about the child support claim. That, or Fischer chose not to print it.
Whatever the case, Fischer apparently knew that there was more to the child support claim than she revealed. For the most part, her article followed the events of the scandal in chronological order, but not when it came to the child support issue. She presented that issue in the context of discussing Evan and June’s 1985 divorce, though it was not until August of 1993 when June actually made the child support claim. Fischer did not discuss the events of August until several pages later.
Fischer, who according to her own report had seen the divorce file, failed to mention that June’s claim for back child-support was not filed until August, 1993, after Evan demanded that she end the relationship with Jackson. There was not one document in the divorce file referring to child custody or child support prior to that time. June and Dave would later testify that there were no custody problems until Jackson came into their lives.
Fischer cast doubt on the molestation charge because it supposedly came in the middle of “a fierce custody battle.” Yet anyone taking an objective look at the custody issue would know that Jackson did not get innocently caught up in a custody dispute; he was the cause of it.
- Fischer next claimed that Evan did not show much interest in Jordie before Jackson came into their lives. She offered no direct source, but she followed the claim with a quote from Michael Freeman saying that Evan kept promising to buy Jordie a computer but didn’t. Freeman was also quoted saying that Evan became jealous and felt left out when Jordie and his mother went to Monaco with Jackson.The two events mentioned by Freeman had transpired by the end of May 1993, six weeks before he was hired. Where, then, did he get his information? Certainly not from his client, who contradicted his claims. June testified that the relationship between Evan and Jordie was “good,” and she confirmed that they talked every other day by phone on weekdays. (Jordie would spend most weekends at his father’s house.)As for the lack of a computer, Evan had promised Jordie a laptop and had not bought it for him by the time Jackson entered their lives. But there was always a desktop computer in the house for Jordie to use. Does a father’s refusal to buy a (second) computer for his child signify that he doesn’t care about the child? Does placing a mask over your child’s face or dangling him over a railing for a few seconds signify that a father doesn’t love his child? Nonsense.
Later, Fischer would close her article with another quote from Michael Freeman to the effect that Jackson was innocent and that Evan and Barry Rothman “saw an opportunity and programmed it.”
Freeman attended June’s interview with DCS on August 19. During the interview June stated that she believed her son had been molested by Jackson and that she could now see that the relationship was abnormal. Two months later June acted as Jordie’s guardian in his lawsuit against Jackson, from which she received a reported one to two million dollars as part of the settlement.
Freeman’s statements in GQ (and other media) in support of Jackson were contrary to the legal position taken by his former client. And, according to June’s testimony, they were made without her knowledge or consent. Although such actions by an attorney are highly irregular, if not unethical, Fischer did not question Freeman’s motives or integrity. In fact, as will soon be discussed, Fischer did not question the motives of anyone who spoke in favor of Jackson.
- Toward the end of her article Fischer reported that two anonymous sources told her that Evan beat up Dave Schwartz during a meeting in their lawyer’s office in 1993. According to the sources, Evan started hitting Dave after Dave said that he believed the extortion claim against Evan.Here we have two anonymous sources reporting about a single event. There were six people at the meeting: Evan, Monique, Dave, June and attorneys Larry Feldman and Richard Hirsch. Evan, Monique, Feldman and Hirsch were not interviewed by Fischer. Whether June talked to Fischer is unknown, but June was forbidden by the settlement agreement to do so. Dave, however, did not sign any agreement and was free to talk. So if anyone with first hand knowledge did speak to Fischer it was probably Dave.In any event, here’s what actually occurred in the lawyer’s office. When Dave was told he could not receive money from any future settlement, he became argumentative and demanded millions. At that point Evan laid into Dave verbally, accusing him of having created the problem in the first place (by making the tape and helping Pellicano), and accusing him of being greedy for demanding money at a point when no one knew if there was even going to be a settlement.
The extent of the violence was that Evan slapped Dave’s face once, whereupon Feldman and Hirsch stepped between the two men. Dave testified that it was “a one punch fight” and that he and Evan hugged and cried afterward. Evan, in fact, apologized to Dave.
Given that Dave, Evan’s good friend and co-parent, had stabbed him in the back by making a secret recording and by cooperating with Pellcano, it’s not unreasonable that Evan would be upset with Dave. But again, what was Fischer’s point? How does an argument between Evan and Dave further her extortion theory? Especially when she knows that Dave believed Jackson had molested Jordie and she knows that Dave sued Jackson for breaking up his family. (It’s in her article.)
- Several unnamed sources were also used throughout Fischer’s article to present evidence of the alleged extortion plot. But it stretches the imagination to believe that although none of these sources came forward to the police or to the media in 1993; they all decided to tell their story to Mary Fischer after the case had settled. The fact is that the only persons who claimed to have heard extortion threats were Fields and Pellicano.In 1993 Pellicano testified that everything he did in the Jackson case was under the direction of Fields. In fact, in Jordie’s civil suit Fields filed a declaration by Pellicano in which the PI stated that he was hired by Fields’ law firm. A few years later, however, Fields testified that he never heard any tapes and that Pellicano never worked for him.Fischer could not have known that Fields would later make such denials. But she knew, or should have known, the sequence of events that led up to the secret tape recording. Dave made the tape late on the evening of July 8; one day after Pellicano was hired by Fields. At 2 a.m. (on July 9) Dave and Michael called Fields to tell him they had the tape. Fields then instructed Dave to meet him at Pellicano’s office later that morning and to bring the tape. Maureen Orth accurately reported these facts in an article for Vanity Fair link nine months prior to Fischer’s article.
The above facts become important in light the news reports in September of 1993 that the tape was “heavily edited.” Fischer made extensive use of the tape in her article, but never mentioned that it had been edited, or that Pellicano was a world-renowned expert with audio tapes. When she quoted from the tape she did not include the editing glitches (described as “tape irregularities” on the official transcript).
7. Fischer continued her use of anonymous sources to explain why June switched sides and joined with Evan after the authorities became involved. According to “several sources,” June was afraid that Evan would “advance a charge. . . of parental neglect” because she permitted the sleepovers.
Fischer did not address why June would fear such a charge if the sleepovers were so innocent and Michael never molested the boy. Fischer, in fact, never directly asked the most obvious question: why the mother of a young boy would allow him to sleep alone with a 35 year-old-man night after night for months. Nevertheless, the only person who could have brought a charge of neglect against June was the district attorney, not Evan.
More to the point, June’s reason for switching sides was stated in the DCS report, which Fischer used when it suited her but ignored when it didn’t, such as here. June was interviewed by DCS on August 19, less than 48 hours after the authorities were notified. According to the DCS report, “Mother stated that if Jordie had said it, it must be true. She did not feel anyone could brainwash him into saying those things and she did not believe he was lying. . . . Mother acknowledged that she loved the attention paid to her by a star.”
Three days after her interview with DCS, Evan invited June and Dave to join forces with him against Michael.
Barry Rothman (Evan’s attorney) and Michael Freeman (June’s attorney) must have discussed the fact that any attempt on June’s part to fight Evan in court would open her actions up for scrutiny. But no threats were made by anyone to charge June with a crime, and she never claimed that she was threatened.
“The Prince of Darkness”
At the beginning of her article Fischer promised to provide “an in-depth look” at Evan Chandler and Barry Rothman to “gain insight into their character and motives.” As previously mentioned, Fischer fulfilled that promise by presenting all the dirt she could find – more likely, all that Pellicano could provide – to suggest that Evan Chandler extorted Michael Jackson. Yet conspicuously absent from Fischer’s report was any information on Pellicano’s character and motives. He was, after all, the only person who claimed to have proof of the alleged extortion.
To review all of the information available to Fischer about Pellicano’s reputation and credibility would be exhausting – and unnecessary. One article will suffice.
The article began with a huge headline: “PELLICANO, PEOPLE SAY, HAS BECOME THE BEST SUPPRESSER OF CONFIRMABLE GOSSIP.” In the text the full quote reads, “Confirmable gossip is information that can be used to hurt people. Pellicano, people say, has become the best suppresser of confirmable gossip.”
In the article Pellicano admitted that he sometimes had to “tap into (network computers) without permission.” A page or so later, he stated that when dealing with an alleged blackmailer,
“I start by appealing to their sense of values. If they don’t have any, then I have to counter blackmail ’em.”
A few lines down we find that Pellicano generally reserved the counter-blackmailing for women, because men aren’t so easy to get rid of.
If you can’t sit down with a person and reason with them,” Pellicano says, “there’s only one thing left, and that’s fear. Of course, law enforcement authorities don’t want to hear stuff like that, know what I mean? But it happens every day.”
“Pellicano didn’t favor plaintiffs over defendants,” the article continued. “He worked for whoever called first, whoever was paying, and bad guys usually paid more. His allegiance was to himself.”
The author then offered what he dubbed “The Pellicano Principle”: “Money has always been what moved him.” Pellicano was quoted as saying that he moved to Los Angeles from Chicago for one reason only, “In LA, they have money up the ass.”
The above-described article was no more than a mouse-click away for Fischer, in a story titled “The Big Sleazy,” published in the January 1992 issue of GQ Magazine.
Is it any wonder that Fischer kept her readers in the dark about “The Prince of Darkness.”
Evan Chandler is a boy scout compared to Pellicano!
Other articles on Pellicano contained allegations that he threatened people with physical violence, unlawfully detained an individual, bribed a witness, threatened to falsely accuse someone of extortion if he filed a complaint against his client, physically threatened a reporter if he printed a story, and on and on.
Spinning Evan’s Suspicions
Fischer wrote that Evan became suspicious of sexual misconduct between his son and Jackson when Jackson stayed at his house during the Memorial Day Weekend of May 28, 1993. This is true. She also stated that Evan “admitted that Jackson and the boy always had their clothes on whenever he saw them in bed together.” This is partly true. She then stated that Evan never claimed to have witnessed any sexual misconduct by Jackson. This is pure spin.
Michael stayed at Evan’s house for the last two weekends in May of 1993. He slept in a trundle that pulled out from under the bottom berth of a bunk bed where Jordie slept. Jordie’s bed and the trundle were not connected. Jordie’s little brother slept on the top berth every night that Michael stayed over.
To say that the Jordie and Michael always had their clothes on “whenever” Evan saw them in bed together implies that there may have been more than one time. Evan saw Michael and Jordie in the same bed only once, at about 3 a.m. on the last night of Michael’s two visits. On that occasion Jordie had moved into the trundle with Michael. Evan found them asleep in the spoon position; the back of the boy’s body was pressed against the front of Michael’s. Michael’s hand was resting over the boy’s crotch, outside the covers. These facts were not in Fischer’s article.
Whether one labels this scene between Michael and Jordie as “sexual misconduct” is a matter of semantics (and law). Nevertheless, it was a defining moment in which Evan realized that that he had to stop the relationship between his son and the superstar.
What Happened to the Month of June?
Fischer mentioned a confrontation between Evan and June on June 9. But she did not mention that Evan’s expressions of concern about Jordie’s welfare at that confrontation resulted in him not being permitted to see or talk to his son until July 12. During that four-week period Michael had been telling Jordie that his father was a bad person and that he shouldn’t talk to him. (See All That Glitters for details about the all-important month of June).
Fischer’s failure to report the lack of contact between father and son for over one month becomes critical as her article unfolds.
The “Certain Plan” to “Get Control” of Jordie
After presenting a bio of Barry Rothman that portrayed him as a loathsome and untrustworthy character, Fischer stated that “It was with this man . . . that Evan began carrying out his ‘certain plan’.” Fischer was referring to the “certain plan” Evan mentioned on tape, which she claimed was an extortion plan.
After linking Evan and Barry as co-conspirators, Fischer offered the following evidence of the extortion plan.
- The first step was to “get control” of Jordie. Evan requested a visitation with his son and promised to return Jordie to his mother, but, according to Fischer, he never intended to keep his promise. As proof, Fischer offered a statement Evan made on Dave’s secret tape three days before the visitation occurred: “They don’t know it yet, but they aren’t going anywhere.”To understand how Fischer’s assertion fails, a few facts are necessary – most of which are not available in Fischer’s article. Between June 9 and July 11 (the period Evan was not permitted contact with his son) he continually requested that June and Michael talk to him about his concerns for Jordie. On the July 8 tape Evan explained to Dave that he had cried and begged, all to no avail, and that that was the reason he left a message on June’s answering machine demanding a meeting for the morning of July 9.The meeting never took place because Michael, June and Jordie failed to show up. Instead, Dave called Evan the night before the meeting was to happen and recorded their conversations. The following morning Dave and June brought the tape to Pellicano’s office where, according to Dave’s testimony, they met and strategized with Pellicano and Fields.
After listening to the tape, Fields knew that Evan was angry and might institute legal action if he didn’t see his son soon. So Fields decided, and June agreed, to offer a visitation to Evan to calm him down. Fields and Rothman worked out the terms of the visitation the following day.
In other words, when Evan made the statement on July 8 to the effect that Jordie and June would not be going on tour with Michael, he had no knowledge that the visitation offer would be made the following day. In fact, at the time he made the statement he did not know if, or when, he would get to see his son, much less gain control of the boy.
- Fischer claimed that after Jordie was delivered to Evan as per the visitation agreement, Evan executed the next step in his extortion plan by having June sign a document that prohibited her from leaving Los Angeles with Jordie. The problem with Fischer’s accusation is that the document was drawn up before Evan and Rothman knew that a visitation would be offered.On the July 8 tape Evan told Dave that he would be bringing two documents to the meeting scheduled for the following morning, one for June and one for Michael. These were a restraining order against Michael and a modification of custody agreement for June. The modification restricted June from taking Jordie out of Los Angeles County. Evan’s reason for this was stated many, many times on the July 8 tape; to prevent irreparable harm from coming to Jordie should June take him on tour with Michael.When Barry Rothman drew up the modification neither he nor Evan knew if, or when, Evan would see Jordie again. They had no knowledge that a visitation was forthcoming. Evan’s purpose of bringing the documents to the meeting was to show June and Michael that he was fed up with their continued refusal to talk to him about his son. If they refused to address his concerns at that meeting he was going to file the documents and seek a court order. That was why Evan knew that they wouldn’t be going on tour, not because he was planning to renege on an agreement that he didn’t even know would be made.
Fischer continued her accusation of an extortion plot by reporting June’s claim that she signed the modification under duress because Evan threatened not to return Jordie. June made this claim in August of 1993, in court documents demanding that Evan return Jordie to her.
Fischer, however, failed to report key facts surrounding June’s claim. June had signed the document at Pellicano’s office and at his urging. Pellicano was working under the direction of Bert Fields. Fields, then, either advised June to sign the agreement knowing she had been coerced, or he was not informed by June that she had been coerced.
There is, of course, another possibility, that the duress claim was as bogus as the child support claim turned out to be.
But even if Evan had told June that she would not see Jordie again unless she ended the relationship with Jackson, it would have been an ultimatum that served the child’s best interest. Two days after June’s duress claim was presented to the court, she admitted to DCS that she loved the attention paid to her by a star, that she now understood the abnormal aspects of Michael and Jordie’s relationship, and that she believed her son had been molested. June also agreed to allow Jordie to stay with his father. According to the DCS report, Jordie requested to stay with Evan because he was concerned that his mother might expose him to Jackson, whom he never wanted to see again.
- Fischer reported that Fields had submitted an affidavit to the court in support of June’s attempt to have Jordie returned. She did not go into details about the affidavit. Fields described his role in the affair as that of a messenger ferrying communications between the two sides. Fields did not tell the court that June had signed the agreement at Pellicano’s office and that Pellicano was working under his direction. He did not tell the court that both he and Pellicano represented Jackson, and that an accusation of child abuse against Jackson was the reason Evan refused to give Jordie back. Fischer should have known these facts.Fischer also failed to report that Jordie’s attorney, Larry Feldman, accused Fields and Pellicano in court documents of interfering with Evan’s attempt to protect his son, and that Feldman cited Fields’ affidavit as an example of that interference.4.Fischer next claimed that an entry in the diary of an unidentified “former colleague” of Rothman made it clear that Rothman was guiding Evan in the extortion plot. According to Fischer, the July 27, 1993, entry stated that “Rothman wrote a letter to Chandler advising him how to report child abuse without liability to a parent.”
The unidentified colleague is now known to be Geraldine Hughes, Rothman’s temporary secretary who apparently began working for him about ten days prior to the date of her entry. It is not known what efforts, if any, Fischer made to verify Hughes’ claims. What is known is that the letter described in Hughes diary is not the letter Rothman wrote.
The letter begins with, “I enclose for your review certain statutory sections relative to the above-captioned matter.” It ends with, “Upon conclusion of your review of these materials, should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time.”
In between the two sentences is a list of Penal and Civil Codes that pertain to the neglect or abuse of a child. After each code number is a one-sentence description of the information provided in that code. One of the codes contains information on reporting abuse without liability. But there is no mention in the letter of any plan to report abuse, no advice on how to make a report, and no discussion whatsoever of the codes. Hughes and Fischer focused on one small part of one code and spun the entire letter as advice on how to report abuse without liability. (The letter can be viewed on this Web site).
The Custody Battle
Fischer wrote that after June signed the July 12 modification of custody agreement, “A bitter custody battle ensued, making even murkier any charges. . . about Jackson.” This mimics the original lament of Michael’s handlers that the star innocently got caught up in a custody battle.
As previously discussed, Fischer had Evan and June’s 1985 divorce file and she had the July 12, 1993 modification agreement. What she did not have, because none existed, were any court documents between those dates related to a custody dispute. Simply put, prior to Michael’s entry into the Chandlers’ lives there was no custody battle – or even a minor skirmish. Dave’s secret tape and all of the court documents filed in this scandal, both before and after it became public, reveal that the only reason a custody battle arose was because June repeatedly refused Evan’s requests to end the relationship between their son and Jackson.
No Demands or Accusations
Fischer reported that as of August 4, 1993, “there still had been no demands or formal accusations, only veiled assertions. . . . ” The significance of this statement should not be overlooked.
Fischer was referring to the August 4 meeting at the Westwood Marquis Hotel between Evan, Jordie, Michael and Pellicano. This meeting took place nearly one month after Evan stated on tape that if June, Jordie and Michael didn’t meet with him that day he was going to give his “nasty” lawyer, who was “hungry for the publicity,” the green light to “destroy them” in any mean way he could.
After taking Evan’s words out of context and stringing them together with sentences from other parts of the tape – sometimes as much as 100 pages apart – Fischer claimed that these words were evidence of the extortion plot. Yet she agrees that on August 4, almost one month after these words were spoken, there had been no extortion attempt and that the only action Barry Rothman had taken was to draft legal documents and file them with the court (the modification). No phone calls to the press, not even a leak.
Further, the August 4 meeting occurred three weeks after the visitation commenced – a visitation that Fischer claimed was part of the extortion plot. Yet still there were no demands, only legal documents.
The negotiations from August 4 onward were described by both the district attorney and by Jackson’s attorney, Bert Fields, as legal and proper. So when did the extortion occur?
Fischer also made the following comment about the August 4 meeting. “Chandler gave the singer an affectionate hug, (a gesture, some say, that would seem to belie the dentist’s suspicions about Jackson).” Eight months prior to Fischer’s article, Vanity Fair article attributed this statement to Anthony Pellicano.
Obviously, Fischer did not want to reveal that Pellicano was her source (and, perhaps, that he was also some of her other unnamed sources). In any event, “some” might also say that if Evan intended to falsely accuse Michael of molestation and then extort him, he would have pretended to be angry with Michael, especially in front of Pellicano, an expert on making tape recordings.
After the Westwood Marquis meeting ended with no resolution, Pellicano and Rothman met at Rothman’s office later that day, at which point Rothman made a demand for $20 million. Fischer described the subsequent negotiations between Rothman and Pellicano as follows:
On August 13, there was another meeting in Rothman’s office. Pellicano came back with a counteroffer – a $350,000 screenwriting deal. Pellicano says he made the offer to resolve the custody dispute and give Chandler an opportunity to spend more time with his son by working on screenplays together. (Italics added)
There were, in fact, two additional negotiations. Pellicano did not reject the $20 million demand outright. He stated that he would talk to his client and get back to Rothman. Pellicano’s secretly recorded tape of Rothman reveals that Pellicano made a counteroffer of $1,000,000 on August 9, which was rejected by Evan. At that meeting Evan and Pellicano got into a heated argument and Evan ended up walking out and demanding that Rothman file a lawsuit against Jackson. Fischer did not mention the August 9 negotiations.
To punish Evan for the arguing with him, Pellicano came back with a $350,000 offer on August 13. On August 17, as evidenced by Pellicano’s recording, the two men were still negotiating.
These negotiations, which took place over a period of two weeks, were cited by authorities as just one of the reasons they concluded that no extortion had occurred. Another reason was that the police did not hear any words of extortion on the two recordings offered by the Jackson camp. Neither did the press.
According to the official statement made by the LAPD, the evidence revealed that the parties were involved in legitimate negotiations to settle legal claims out of court – something the law encourages, the police spokesman said.
Fischer, of course, did not report the authorities’ public statements. Instead, she took the position touted by Pellicano that Evan and Rothman tried to extort Jackson. Fischer apparently did not grasp that her quote of Pellicano – that he made the $350,000 screenplay offer to help resolve the custody dispute – contradicted the statements he made to the press in 1993. At that time Pellicano said,
These people have come forward and demanded twenty million dollars . . . . and we have flatly refused that, and consistently refused that… When and if they would accept money, I would have had law enforcement involved to the hilt.”
I was trying to set him up with the extortion. I wanted to see if he would take it.
On the August 17 tape we hear Rothman asking Pellicano to reconsider his one million dollar offer. “I busted my hump for three days, non-stop day and night, God knows how many hours with him [Evan] getting him hopefully to agree.” Still, Pellicano refused to reinstate his offer. So much for trying to get them to take money and trap them in extortion!
As for involving law enforcement, the day after Pellicano and Weitzman played Dave’s tape at a worldwide press conference, the Los Angeles Times quoted a police spokesman saying they had received no complaint from the Jackson camp. It was this newspaper report that prompted Howard Weitzman to file a police report – three weeks after the negotiations began.
Fischer reported none of this.
The Powerful Hypnotic Drug Used to Brainwash Jordie
In a nutshell, Fischer accused Evan and Mark Torbiner, the anesthesiologist, of intentionally planting false memories of child abuse in Jordie’s head by giving him the drug sodium Amytal during a dental procedure in Evan’s office. According to Fischer, a newsman at KCBS-TV (actually Harvey Levin who went on to create TMZ) in LA reported on May 3 of this year that Chandler had used the drug on his son, but the dentist claimed he did so only to pull his son’s tooth.
Fischer then quoted experts on the proper administration of the drug and the dangerous – even fatal – consequences that could result if these procedures were not followed. And Fischer surmised that Evan failed to use the proper procedures, inferring that he went so far as to place his son’s life in danger just to extort Michael Jackson.
To purchase sodium Amytal legally, Torbiner would have been required to fill out a triplicate DEA form. No such form is on file with that agency. To obtain the drug illegally is difficult; there is no demand for it on the street.
Given the list of experts Fischer quoted about how the use of this drug would have been highly unethical and dangerous, it seems unlikely that Evan or Torbiner would have said anything to a reporter that might be construed as if they had actually used the drug. Their livelihoods and professional licenses were at risk, not to mention potential criminal charges.
Most strange is why this monumental brainwashing evidence did not surface for a full five months after the settlement. It would have been the scoop of the century! Not only was it worth a fortune to the tabloids, but it could have stopped Jordie’s civil suit dead in its tracks, cleared Jackson criminally, and catapulted his career to new heights.
It is oddly convenient that Fischer’s most powerful “evidence” surfaced shortly before she would have completed her article. And, that it came in the form of unnamed sources that the KCBS newsman, Harvey Levin, could not be compelled to reveal.
One could infer from Fischer’s report that Levin claimed to have personally communicated with Evan. Levin made no such claim. But had he followed professional guidelines he should have had at least two independent and unbiased sources. After all, his story not only accused two health-care professionals of brainwashing a minor, it was the single most important piece of evidence in the largest public scandal of all time.
But the press paid little attention to Levin’s story and it quickly died. Why? Why would the media reject such a bombshell? Could it be that they, too, were suspicious of the timing? Or did they question the reliability of Levin’s sources? Perhaps they believed those sources came from within the Jackson camp. Pellicano, for example.
Or maybe the legitimate press realized that Levin’s story made no sense. Two dentists, with no prior training in brainwashing techniques, had planted false information in a child’s mind with such expertise, that for a period of over four months the child had fooled every professional who interviewed him, including psychiatrists, experienced detectives, social workers, lawyers and district attorneys.
Ironically, the person who best refutes Fischer’s drug fairytale is none other than Anthony Pellicano. In December of 1993 Pellicano described Jordie’s behavior at the August 4 Westwood Marquis meeting as follows:
The father began to read the psychiatrists letter, which cited the criminal statutes that applied to child abuse. “Jordie was looking down,” [Pellicano said] “and he pops his head up and looks at Michael like, ‘I didn’t say that.'”
According to Pellicano, just two weeks after the alleged brainwashing Jordie wasn’t brainwashed at all! He was acting embarrassed and guilty about the accusations his father had made.
Fischer next quoted Dr. Resnick, the Cleveland psychiatrist, saying how easy it is to plant false memories using sodium Amytal. She followed this with a discussion of a landmark California lawsuit that successfully challenged the validity of the repressed memory syndrome. The lawsuit involved a 20-year-old woman who, after being given sodium Amytal by her psychiatrist, accused her father of molesting her when she was a child.
Assuming that the repressed memory syndrome is nothing more than a giant mound of horse apples, what did it have to do with the Jackson case? The allegations against Michael were not the memories of an adult about events that had transpired decades earlier in childhood. Or even one year earlier! Jordie spilled his guts in mid-August about sexual acts that occurred between April and June. His “memories” did not have time to become repressed. They don’t even qualify as memories. They were fresh in the child’s mind. As was his accurate description of the distinctive marks on Michael’s genitals: information that could not have been planted in the boy’s mind by those who had never seen the marks.
June’s Change of Heart
Fischer wrote that June rejected Evan’s allegations against Jackson until late August of 1993, when she met with LAPD officers. According to Michael Freeman, June’s former attorney, the police “admitted” that Jordie was their only victim, but they were convinced that he was molested because Jackson “fits the classic profile of a pedophile.” According to Fischer, it was the officers’ statement about the profile of pedophiles that changed June’s mind.
The meeting Fischer described was June’s initial interview with DCS on August 19, which took place just two days after Jordie told his story to Dr. Abrams. At that point the police investigation consisted only of interviews with Evan and Jordie, therefore they could only have had one victim.
More important, the DCS report, which is quite detailed, made no mention of the profile of pedophiles. The report stated that June believed the molestation occurred because she believed her son.
As for the officers’ statements (if they made them) about the profile of pedophiles, Fischer quoted Dr. Ralph Underwager, a Minneapolis psychiatrist, who believed that “There’s no such thing as a classic profile. . . ”
If Dr. Underwager was referring to profiling by race, religion, occupation, economic status, etc., he is correct. If he believed that pedophiles do not exhibit common patterns of behavior toward children, he was at odds with just about every professional treatise on the subject.
Detective Bill Dworin was assigned to the Jackson case. Dworin, a 23 year veteran who had investigated over 4000 sex abuse cases, was convinced that Jordie had been molested, not only because he believed Jordie’s story, but because Jackson exhibited the same behavior Dworin had seen over and over again in confirmed cases of child abuse.
Many of the Jordie’s statements to authorities and psychiatrists regarding his relationship with Michael revealed that the singer’s method of seduction was remarkably similar to the MO of many child molesters. And no one has more front-line experience with abused children than officers of LAPD’s Sexually Exploited Child Unit.
Fischer was particularly critical of the TV show Hard Copy, and of its host, Diane Dimond, who was relentless in her pursuit of the Jackson story. Yet for all of Fischer’s purported research, she apparently failed to view Hard Copy’s May 1994 Special Report that included an interview with Ken Lanning. Lanning is the FBI special agent who authored A Behavioral Profile of Pedophiles, the manual used by many law enforcement agencies to familiarize themselves with the profile of child molesters.
According to Lanning, pedophiles are often “adults who never grew up,” and they have a “unique ability to identify with children”; a “Pied Piper effect.” Their homes are often “shrines to children” and exhibit a “Disneyland” like atmosphere.
As part of her diatribe against Dimond and Hard Copy, Fischer quoted Michael Levine, “a Jackson press representative.” According to Fischer, Levine called Hard Copy “loathsome” and he effectively accused Dimond of lying. Fischer quoted Levine as follows:
If you never bought a Michael Jackson record in your life, you should be very concerned. Society is built on very few pillars. One of them is truth. When you abandon that, it’s a slippery slope.
Jackson biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli identified Michael Levine as the PR pro who spread the phony story that Michael slept in a hyperbaric (oxygen) chamber. Jackson personally concocted the hoax (and others) and ordered it disseminated for the purpose of boosting press coverage, thereby increasing record sales. Jackson’s manager promised Levine additional work if he cooperated.
In February 1994, PBS’s Frontline showed Michael Jackson telling Oprah that it was the tabloids who concocted the hyperbaric chamber story and that he can’t understand why people would buy those magazines. A spokesman for the National Enquirer confirmed Tarborrelli’s version that it was Jackson’s people who created the story. They even supplied the photographs.
Fischer quoted from the Frontline piece later in her article, but she did not mention Michael’s interview with Oprah.
Others Who Spoke Out Against Jackson
Two of the most outspoken against Jackson were Mark and Faye Quindoy, a husband and wife who were former Neverland employees. To discredit the Quindoys, Fischer quoted freelance journalist Paul Baressi from his appearance on Frontline: “When their asking price was $100,000 they said the hand was outside the kid’s pants. As soon as their price went up to $500,000, the hand was inside the pants. So come on.” Fischer claimed that Baressi was speaking about the Quindoys, and she later wrote that the police apparently did not believe the Quindoy’s “hand in the pants” story.
A review of Frontline reveals that Baressi did not make his statement in reference to the Quindoys. He was talking about another couple, Phillip and Stella LeMarque, who also claimed to have information on Jackson.
Next on Fischer’s list was Blanca Francia, the maid who worked for Michael at several of his homes, including when he lived with his parents in Los Angeles.
In 1993 Francia told police and the press that she had seen Jackson in the shower with a boy and in Jacuzzi baths with other boys (individually). But according to Fischer, “under deposition by a Jackson attorney” Francia denied seeing Jackson in the shower with a boy, and she said that the other boys always had bathing trunks on in the baths.
Francia’s deposition was taken by Larry Feldman on December 15, 1993, with Johnnie Cochran present as Michael’s attorney. Fischer stated that she did not interview Cochran, so it remains a mystery as to which “Jackson attorney” could have revealed Francia’s supposed flip-flop. Whoever it was, they were wrong.
Francia testified that she did see Michael in the shower with a young boy (whom she identified by name). She said she was certain the two were naked because she saw their underwear lying on the floor outside the shower door. She also said that she saw Jackson in the Jacuzzi with individual boys on separate occasions. (She named these boys as well). They were naked on top and their underwear was lying next to the tub, but she could not see if they were wearing anything on the bottom.
Francia further testified that she saw several boys in bed with Michael at various times, but never any girls or grown women. She also saw him with a (named) young boy inside a sleeping bag several times, sometimes in pajamas and sometimes naked from the waist up. She could not see if they were wearing anything below.
Francia saw a picture, allegedly taken by Michael, of a boy with a sheet draped over him (she named this boy as well). Except for the boy’s private parts, which were covered by the sheet, Francia could see that he was naked. At Neverland she also saw a closet within a closet where Michael kept video tapes and books with pictures of children. According to Vanity Fair, when the police searched Jackson’s bedroom they found “a lewd, commercially published hardcover book of nude boys. . . often found in the homes of pedophiles,” and a picture of a young boy scantily draped with a sheet.
Francia testified that at least three (named) young boys spent the night with Jackson in his bedroom while he still lived with his parents. Jackson frequently gave her cash and told her it was because she was doing a good job and was loyal to him. But he also told her to keep what she saw a secret and not to tell his mother and father.
Fischer then claimed that the Los Angeles and Santa Barbara grand juries must not have found Francia credible (presumably because Jackson was never indicted). On its face, this claim makes no sense. If Francia told the media that she had seen Jackson naked with boys, but later retracted those claims in her deposition, she would have had to switch back to her original story when she appeared before the grand juries. In other words, according to Fischer, Francia made statements to the press, then denied those statements in her deposition, then denied those denials in her testimony to the grand juries.
Besides, there is no evidence that the grand juries were asked to indict Jackson. If they were asked but refused, it would have been a huge story. By the time the grand juries completed their investigation the DAs knew that Jordie would not testify and that they could not go forward without him.
In March of 1994 several of Jackson’s bodyguards filed a lawsuit against him for wrongful termination. They claimed they were fired because they knew too much about Michael’s relationships with young boys. Fischer reported that the bodyguards made those allegations on Hard Copy, but that under oath in depositions they changed their story and said that “they had never actually seen Jackson do anything improper with Chandler’s son or any other child.” To back this up, Fischer presented excerpts from one of the bodyguard’s depositions in which he stated that at no time did he witness Jackson doing anything wrong with Jordie or any other boy.
The facts are that the bodyguards readily admitted on Hard Copy that they had not actually seen Jackson molest a child. What they meant by “knowing too much” was reported by Diane Dimond: Michael would frequently sneak young boys in and out of his bedroom late at night at the Jackson family compound in Los Angeles, and the star would spend the entire night with the boys. (This confirms the maid’s testimony.)
One of the bodyguards also stated that Michael had ordered him to destroy a picture of a naked young boy about the age of ten or eleven that was taped to the mirror in the star’s private bathroom. (The maid also testified that she saw a picture of a mostly naked boy.)
As for Jordie, the bodyguards were fired in February 1993, before Jordie started hanging out with Jackson, so they could not have seen him with Michael and never claimed to.
Fischer also failed to mention the most important fact to come out of the bodyguard’s case, that Jackson invoked the Fifth Amendment in his deposition to questions about his relationships with young boys.
Criticism of the Police Investigation
Fischer reported that several parents had complained to Michael’s attorney, Bert Fields, that police officers told them their children had been molested even though their children denied that anything had happened. Fields had written a letter to (then) Los Angeles Police Chief Willie Williams complaining that investigating officers had frightened youngsters with outrageous lies, such as, “We have nude photos of you.”
It is not known if Jackson’s attorneys informed Fischer that the police found child erotica and a picture of a scantily-draped young boy during their search of Michael’s home. What Fischer must have known is that Fields’ letter went on to strongly protest the alleged police interrogation of minors out of the presence of their parents. Yet one day after Fields’ sent his letter to Chief Williams, he filed a motion in court and attached a declaration by Pellicano in which the PI stated, “I interviewed the plaintiff [Jordie], at length and in detail. I did this alone, so that he would be under no pressure from having Michael Jackson or his parents in attendance.” (Italics added).
Considering Fischer’s claim that she based her story on court documents, and her criticism of the media for being lazy in their pursuit of the truth, one wonders why this senior staff writer failed to mention Fields’ contradictory claims. After all, she had at least two clear examples. The letter to Chief Williams was one. The other was Fields’ claim that Feldman had a weak case and that he (Fields) wanted to go forward. Those claims were contradicted by Fields’ motion for a six-year stay of Jordie’s lawsuit and Michael’s willingness to take the fifth.
Fischer advanced her claim of police incompetence by quoting yet another unnamed source who allegedly stated that the police never took the extortion charge seriously and therefore conducted a “superficial” investigation. Fischer suggested that the police could have searched Evan and Barry Rothman’s homes and offices, and that a grand jury could have been empanelled when the two men “declined to be interviewed by police.”
Fischer did not inform her readers about the district attorney’s official announcement.
“We’ve declined to file today criminal charges of attempted extortion,” said Michael Montagna, a deputy LA County DA who heads that office’s organized crime unit. “The evidence does not show that any crime has been committed.” . . . Montagna cited the Jackson camp’s slowness to act on the extortion claim and its willingness to negotiate with the boy’s father for several weeks as two reasons why prosecutors did not bring an extortion case. Montagna also said the discussions between Jackson’s representatives and Barry K. Rothman, the attorney for the boy’s father at that time, appeared to be attempts to settle a possible civil case, not efforts to extort money. “It’s not a crime for attorneys to try to settle a civil action,” Montagna said. “The law actually favors trying to settle actions without going to court.”
Fischer kept her readers in the dark because even a non-lawyer would have known that search warrants and grand jury indictments cannot be issued if there is no evidence of a crime. The “evidence” supplied by Pellicano – the tapes – turned out to be garbage. And Pellicano’s apparent willingness to negotiate and his failure to notify the police only strengthened the case against extortion.
Regarding Fischer’s statement that Evan was unwilling to be interviewed by authorities, he was interviewed by the police on August 17, 1993, the first day of the investigation. (He declined his right to have an attorney present.) He then submitted a written statement to police under penalty of perjury, and sometime thereafter underwent a lengthy oral examination under oath by the district attorney.
Fischer concluded her criticism of the authorities by claiming that “according to some,” the investigation had no foundation and was a total waste of money.
Jordie’s statement as to how often he slept alone with Jackson was corroborated by his mother and uncontested by the singer. Jordie’s statement as to the sex itself was deemed truthful by several experts in the field of child abuse, including two psychiatrists, a child psychologist, several officers from LAPD’s Sexually Exploited Child Unit, two district attorneys, several lawyers, and at least two DCS investigators. In addition, the police found child erotica at Jackson’s home and Jordie accurately described distinctive markings on Jackson’s genitals. And the alleged perpetrator stated that he would take the Fifth Amendment if placed under oath. These facts may or may not have convicted Jackson, but they were more than sufficient to justify an investigation.
Fischer omitted all of the above facts.
The Dis on Dr. Abrams.
Not content to limit her criticism to the public agencies involved in the investigation, Fischer attacked the credibility of Mathis Abrams, the psychiatrist who first interviewed Jordie.
The investigation of Jackson. . .was instigated,in part, by the perceptions of one psychiatrist, Mathis Abrams, who had no particular expertise in child abuse. “Abrams,” the DCS caseworker reported, “feels the child is telling the truth.” (Italics added).
Fischer used the word “perceptions” to describe Dr. Abrams’ professional opinion. Laymen have perceptions. MDs in Psychiatry have professional opinions. According to Fischer, however, Abrams’ professional opinion was of little value because he had “no particular expertise in child abuse.” Abrams was licensed in 1966. Rothman was referred to him by other professionals who described Abrams as an expert in the field of crimes against children.
Fischer continued to portray Abram’s conclusions as less than worthy by repeating the DCS caseworker’s casual use of the word “feels” to describe Dr. Abrams’ professional opinion. Abrams had spent three hours interviewing an intelligent thirteen-year-old who related a story about multiple molestations in multiple locations. As a mandatory reporter Abrams was required to issue a report if he had a reasonable belief that abuse had occurred.
Curiously, while Fischer was essentially saying that you can’t put too much stock in Mathis Abrams opinion, she relied heavily on the claims of Dr. Resnick (Cleveland) and Dr. Underwager (Minneapolis), both of whom never interviewed the victim and who took no part in the California investigation.
Fischer’s use of the phrases “in part” and “one psychiatrist” also deserves scrutiny: she stated that the investigation of Jackson was instigated in part by the perceptions of one psychiatrist. But she failed to mention the other “parts.” After Dr. Abrams filed his report, Evan, Jordie and June were interviewed by DCS investigators, by detectives from LAPD’s Sexually Exploited Child Unit, by a deputy DA, and by an expert from Stuart House. Considering the extremely high profile of the alleged molester, the superiors of these professionals would also have reviewed the case before taking further action.
The law required only that DCS begin an investigation based on the report of one psychiatrist. But many professionals had become involved and were in agreement before any investigation of Jackson himself began, and before any search warrants were issued. This is a far cry from saying the investigation against Michael was “instigated, in part, by the perceptions of one psychiatrist,” and leaving it at that. Had the professionals who followed Abrams not concurred with his opinion, the investigation of Jackson would never have been “instigated.”
Why Michael Changed Attorneys.
In December, 1993, Bert Fields was replaced with Johnnie Cochran, who settled the case within two months. To explain the change of attorneys in a manner consistent with Michael’s innocence, Fischer had to get creative, so she rewrote HIStory.
Fischer claimed that Fields and Pellicano “vowed to fight the charges in court” and “adopted an aggressive strategy.” She quoted Fields saying “They had a very weak case.”
Fischer allowed Fields to go unchallenged, though his words were contradicted by his deeds. Fields response to Jordie’s legal complaint was to file a motion to stay (postpone) the lawsuit for six years until the criminal statute of limitations on child molestation expired. This was reported in the press, yet Fischer found it unworthy of mention.
Michael’s attorneys also informed the court that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege if the case was not postponed. This, too, was made public, as was the bodyguards’ case in which Michael did take the fifth regarding questions about his intimate relationship with minors. Fischer also found these facts not worth mentioning.
In short, Fields’ legal maneuvers were hardly what one would call “an aggressive strategy” based on a belief that he would prevail against Feldman’s “weak case.”
Fischer then reported that Fields resigned because of a rift between himself and Weitzman, and because everyone in Jackson’s camp had different opinions on what to do, making it difficult to get decisions made.
Fischer again let Fields go unchallenged, though his explanation was, at best, only half the story. The Wall Street Journal reported that while Fields’ resignation did involve internal squabbling, he was essentially forced out because he had mishandled the case. “Ostensibly the latest shake-up came because lawyers had committed blunders detrimental to their client.”
Fischer stated that Pellicano resigned (at the same time as Fields) because he had been criticized for his “aggressive manner.” It is just plain nonsense to believe that such a tough guy would resign because of a little criticism.
The reality is that Fields and Pellicano’s strategy failed miserably. In the public arena they had made extortion claims they could not substantiate, and in the legal arena Larry Feldman had defeated them at every turn. By the time Fields and Pellicano “resigned,” Jackson’s career was all but destroyed.
Why Michael Settled.
Fischer offered specific reasons why Jackson’s new attorneys “apparently decided” not to go forward with the civil suit. She didn’t mention names, but the new attorney was, of course, Johnnie Cochran. Fischer did not interview Cochran, so it remains a mystery how she came to know his reasoning. Nevertheless, here’s what she said was on his mind.
The first reason for settling was that Jackson’s “emotional fragility” might not hold up to the many months of intense media scrutiny that were sure to follow. While there’s no way to tell what was inside Michael’s head, he was no babe-in-the-woods when it came to the media’s spotlight. If the case against him was as “weak” as Fields claimed, then putting up with the media would have been well worth the hassle. After all, Michael’s career had come to a screeching halt by the time the settlement occurred. An acquittal would have revived it big time.
The second reason Cochran settled, according to Fischer, was that he “feared” that justice would not be done in the courtroom because of the results of the Rodney King case. Assuming that Fischer meant a black man couldn’t get justice, she seems to have forgotten that the four LAPD officers who beat the crap out of King were acquitted in Simi Valley, less than an hour by car, but light years away from a mixed-race Los Angeles jury pool. Damien Williams, who was charged with attacking truck-driver Reginald Denny during the Los Angeles riots that followed the King verdict, fared well with a Los Angeles jury.
The third reason Cochran settled, according to Fischer’s psychic powers – and this is a doozy – was because he was afraid of a mixed-race jury.
As one attorney says, they figured that Hispanics might resent Jackson for his money, blacks might resent him for trying to be white, and whites would have trouble getting around the molestation issue.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary, you can’t be serious! Who bought all of those albums and concert tickets for the past thirty years if nobody liked Michael Jackson? What an insult to Michael.
All of a sudden Hispanics resented Michael for being wealthy? Does that mean they hated Gloria Estefan and Julio Iglesias, too. Or did Hispanics only hate rich black folk?
All of a sudden blacks resented Michael for his whiteness? How is it, then, that both the NAACP and LA Council of Black Ministers came out in support of Michael before and after the settlement? Did they resent Jackson’s whiteness only for the four weeks in-between?
Did Johnnie Cochran not trust blacks to be fair with Michael?
By saying that whites would have trouble getting around the molestation issue, did Fischer mean that blacks and Hispanics didn’t care about child molestation? Was it just money and skin color they cared about?
After presenting all of the above reasons why Cochran feared he would lose a civil trial, Fischer drew the opposite conclusion. She claimed that if Michael had gone to trial he probably would have been found not guilty because of the “scant evidence” against him.
To sum up, according to Fischer and her unnamed sources, the police and prosecutors were incompetent, the press was lazy (except for Fischer), the blacks, Hispanics and whites of LA were all prejudiced against a man they helped make the most successful entertainer of all time, and the psychiatrists and social workers were all duped – except the ones Fischer talked to, who never interviewed the victim and took no part in the investigation.
Oh yes, and all the hubbub about child abuse is nothing but “unfounded” “hysteria.”
Whose Got the Money
Near the end of her article Fischer addressed the amount of money that Evan, June and Larry Feldman received from the settlement, and she reported that the remainder was placed in a trust for Jordie and that disbursements would be supervised by a court-appointed trustee.
Then, once again, Fischer cited unnamed sources who supposedly claimed that since Evan had custody of Jordie he could spend Jordie’s money. But no one other than those directly involved knew the powers (or restrictions) of the court-appointed trustee. It is just as logical to contend that his purpose was to keep the parents from having access to the money. Hard Copy, the program Fischer seems to have researched most, made such a statement. Even the Hollywood Reporter, which for the most part supported Jackson during the scandal, stated that “Feldman reportedly pushed for a court appointed trustee so the boy would get the lion’s share of the money, rather than his father. . . .”
Time and time again history has taught us that a free and unfettered press is essential for a democratic society to thrive. So self-evident was this to our Founding Fathers that they protected the press in the very first amendment to the Constitution.
Since that time, particularly in recent years, the Supreme Court has continued to safeguard the media’s vital role by awarding reporters increasing protection for refusing to reveal sources, and increasing immunity from liability for reporting what they believed to be the truth, even if it turned out to be false and defamatory.
But along with these privileges the media assumes a weighty responsibility to make a good faith effort to tell the truth. The courts have been lenient in defining what constitutes a good faith effort, and have made it increasingly difficult to prove that a journalist has done otherwise. Disseminating false facts because of a lack of research or a failure to corroborate, or almost any other reason under the sun, is no longer sufficient. The reporter must have exhibited knowing falsity or a reckless disregard for the truth.
In the book Reckless Disregard, an eye-opening inquiry into the role of the media in modern society, Renata Adler wrote,
Though the First Amendment has been held to tolerate a certain category of inadvertently false statements, in the name of freedom of debate and of expression, it cannot be held to license wholesale violations of the Ninth Commandment, or to abrogate a profound system of values, which holds that words themselves are powerful, that false words leave the world diminished, and that false defamatory words have an actual power to do harm.
Mistakes happen when dealing with large numbers of facts. Every journalist makes them. My book and this article no doubt contain mistakes that I am unaware of. But in my opinion Fischer made too many mistakes for them to be mistakes, and she relied too heavily on anonymous and biased sources given the gravity of her claims.
This analysis tracks Fischer’s article more or less in the chronological order in which it was presented. Copyright infringement laws prohibit the reprinting of her article or even the use of lengthy quotes. Therefore I was forced to use short quotes or to restate various sections.
 It is doubtful that Fischer performed the detailed background research. Evan’s criminal attorney, Richard Hirsch, knew back in September of 1993 that Pellicano was conducting a full scale investigation of Evan, Barry Rothman and Mark Torbiner.
 Fischer reported that Michael stayed at Evan’s house before traveling to Monaco for the World Music Awards with Jordie and June, and that Evan became jealous and felt left out. Then, according to Fischer, Michael stayed at Evan’s house again after returning from Monaco, which made Evan happy again. The facts are that the Monaco trip occurred in early May, before Evan had met Jackson. Michael stayed at Evan’s house on the last two weekends in May.
 According to Evan, June told him that after the DCS interview Michael Freeman said he was 70 percent convinced that Jackson had molested Jordie. This appears in a document prepared by Evan, with June’s input, in October 1993.
 Peter Wilkinson, “The Big Sleazy,” GQ Magazine, January 1992. See also: John Connolly, “The Pellicano Brief, Los Angeles Magazine, February, 1994; Bill Hewitt, Lyndon Stambler, John Hannah & Leah Eskin, “Trouble Shooter,” People Magazine, September 20, 1993.
 In his early days in Chicago, Pellicano was dubbed “The Prince of Darkness” because he threatened to make a man “remember why he’s afraid of the dark.” (Shawn Hubler & James Bates, “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars.”)
 In 2004 it was discovered that Pellicano had an LAPD Officer and a phone company employee in his pocket to help him tap phone lines. (Howard Blum and John Connolly, “The Pellicano Brief,” Vanity Fair, March, 2004; 232.)
 To my mind, Fischer’s description of Hughes as “a former colleague” of Rothman implies a closer relationship between Hughes and Rothman than existed, and thereby imparts more credibility to Hughes than she deserves. I assumed Fischer was talking about another attorney, not a temporary secretary who began working for Rothman late in the game. Hughes book is discussed in another section of this Web site. According to Hughes book, Redemption, Fischer obtained the secret tape recordings from Pellicano.
 Fischer did not question why Evan should all of a sudden have to be granted an arranged visitation with his son when previous to Michael’s appearance on the scene Evan had seen the boy nearly every weekend, and, according to June’s testimony, had spoken to him by phone every other weekday.
 Fischer claimed that she spoke to Torbiner and that he told her “If I used it [the drug], it was for dental purposes.” Dr. Torbiner would not respond to inquiries about what, if anything, he told Fischer. His attorney stated that Torbiner was bound by the doctor-patient privilege and could not discuss the issue without written consent from his patient.
 Harvey Levin is a licensed attorney who in 1993 was a reporter for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles. In 1994 he was forced to retract a damaging report on O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark that turned out to be false. He has also received his fair share of criticism from Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times. On the other hand, Levin has been praised and has won awards for his investigative pieces. It is not my intent here to accuse Levin of any wrongdoing, but I do question his sources.
 Maureen Orth, “Nightmare at Neverland.” It is difficult to believe that in researching her article Fischer would not have read Maureen Orth’s Vanity Fair piece containing information contrary to Fischer’s position. Fischer, who accused the press of being lazy regarding the Jackson scandal, made not one reference to Vanity Fair or to the Los Angeles Times, which covered the local story on a daily basis and also reported information that contradicted Fischer’s arguments.
 Dworin made these statements on Dateline in November, 2003. He expressed the same opinion to the Chandlers in 1993. Dworin and the Santa Barbara DA have said that Jordie’s description of Michael’s genitals was accurate.
 It may be that the DAs wanted to preserve testimony in case Jordie changed his mind. Witnesses forget, move out of the jurisdiction, or die. Some of that testimony may play a role in the 2004 criminal case against Jackson.
 Nicholas Riccardi, “Judge Lets Jackson Plead 5th,” Los Angeles Times, September 16, 1994; Maureen Orth, “The Jackson Jive.” (The case was dismissed because the bodyguards had signed a contract precluding them from suing.)
 The Los Angeles Times described Stuart House as “The nations first child abuse treatment program to jointly house medical, law enforcement and child protection services to aid prosecutions and reduce victims’ trauma.”