Jonathan Spence, Michael Jackson’s “mystery boy”.
Not much is known about Jonathan Spence, Michael Jackson’s special friend from late 1984 to 1987 – and even while researching this story we found information about him hard to find. Why was this?
Before Jonathan, there was Emmanuel Lewis – Jackson’s previous special friend. If you search, you can find plenty of information available for Lewis: he was already famous; he and Jackson were often photographed together; and many stories were written about their friendship. One example was when Jackson famously double dated Emmanuel and Brooke Shields at the 1984 Grammy Awards, arriving with the young starlet on one arm and the 12 year old boy tucked under the other.
The special friend after Jonathan we also know a lot about. When James Safechuck Jr filed court documents in May 2014, he vividly described how his relationship with Jackson evolved, starting with a seemingly innocent invitation to the pop star’s home.
Jonathan, however, was an enigma. He was written about briefly in several Jackson-related books, but even writers who had delved deeply into Jackson’s life often got the facts about Jonathan incorrect or missed crucial details entirely. This wasn’t through laziness or bad journalism. The simple fact is that nobody apart from Jackson’s inner circle knew much about Jonathan, and among his inner circle, people like Bill Bray simply lied about the boy and his relationship with Jackson.
In Michael Jackson Unauthorized, Christopher Andersen wrote:
Jonathan Spence became the focus of Michael Jackson’s attention for over a year. An Encino neighbor, the ten-year-old blond actor was with Michael nearly every minute on the set of Captain EO.
To some on the set, Michael seemed oblivious of everything but his ten-year-old companion. Without the slightest hint of self-consciousness, he hugged, cuddled and generally displayed a considerable amount of affection toward the boy. Spence fetched Michael water and orange juice and sat on his lap between takes.
Jackson and Spence dueled with water pistols, ambushed crew members with pies, and conducted full-tilt food fights that virtually destroyed the interior of Michael’s luxury appointed trailer. After filming was over, so, for all intents and purposes, was the friendship.
Andersen’s paragraph above contains the kind of errors typical to much of the publicly available information about Jonathan Spence. Spence was actually twelve years old at the time Captain EO was filmed; he wasn’t an actor; he was friends with Jackson for much longer than a year; and their friendship didn’t end after filming was completed.
One thing we can be certain about: Jackson and Spence were physically close at that time. The photo below, taken during the filming of Captain EO, shows Jackson’s hand casually grasping Jonathan’s thigh – quite the intimate gesture.
The closeness of the pair on the Captain EO set was confirmed by Randall Sullivan in Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson
In 1986, Michael Jackson had starred in Captain EO, a $20 million 3-D film produced by George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola that was both the most expensive and the most promoted short film in the history of the movies, despite being shown exclusively at Disney theme parks. On the set, only three people were permitted to speak to the star: Coppola, Liz Taylor, and ten-year-old Jonathan Spence, and of these, Michael seemed closest to the boy. They were seen any number of times nuzzling and hugging, and seemed to love playing patty-cake with one another. People thought it was innocent, if a bit odd.
Sullivan also mistakenly identifies Spence as a ten year old, although this was a common theme running through our research – people continuously underestimated Spence’s actual age. He may have been small compared to similarly-aged boys, although in the photos we’ve seen he doesn’t look as young as reports say. One conclusion could be that he was immature, leading people to believe he was younger than he actually was. You don’t often see twelve year old boys playing patty cake, hence the possible confusion.
There was also some misinformation regarding Jonathan’s parents. Jackson needed a plausible excuse as to why he would be spending so much time with a young boy both in his bedroom at Hayvenhurst and also while he was out and about. He needed to allay the suspicions of those who might question the twenty seven year old pop star’s motives.
In Diane Dimond’s book Be Careful Who You Love, realtor Gloria Berlin stated that Jonathan’s father was “a screenwriter of some note who left the boy in the care of the Jackson family at Hayvenhurst so he could work in Europe”. Asked how she came by that story, Berlin said she was a neighbor of the Jacksons in Encino and that “everybody knew that”, however she conceded it may have been Jackson’s head of security Bill Bray that told her.
Other rumors circulated that Jonathan was an orphan. Jackson himself told his personal maid, Blanca Francia, that “…the poor boy was left alone, I just want to take care of him”.
In actual fact both Gloria Berlin and Blanca Francia had been deceived.
This is the true story of Jonathan Spence and how he became one of Michael Jackson’s special friends.
Jonathan’s parents, John Spence-Abrahams and Marion Horton, were married at St Mary’s Church in South Kensington, England, on the 5th January 1964. Marion was a dancer and actress, appearing in various stage and TV shows and movies including Carry on Cabby. John, who went by the name Johnnie Spence, was a respected musical director and arranger. On the 2nd of April 1965 their daughter Sarah Jane arrived, and eight years later, on the 15th of February 1973, they were blessed with a son, Jonathan.
Johnnie was very talented – he worked closely with major stars of the day including Tom Jones, Matt Monro, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald, among others – and was in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1976 he made the decision to take the leap and move to the United States full time with his family. They moved into a comfortable home on Lake Encino Drive, and Johnnie was able to secure lucrative work arranging and directing music for both television shows and movies. Spence family life seemed idyllic until August 15th, the tragic day in 1977 when Johnnie died suddenly at home from a heart attack. Marion and daughter Sarah were devastated, Jonathan, who was just four years old, had yet to fully comprehend the death of his father.
A year later, Jonathan started at The Buckley School, an exclusive educational institution twenty minutes drive from his home that catered for students from kindergarten to grade 12. It was here he met and befriended Toriano Adaryll Jackson II (“Taj”), son of Tito Jackson and nephew of Michael Jackson, who was also five years old.
As Jonathan told Victor Guiterrez in 1995;
I met Michael when I was five. I was friends with one of his brother Tito’s sons, with whom I went to the same school in Encino. My friend would invite me to his uncle Michael’s concerts. When we would go to his house, we would play with his uncle Michael.
The “his house” that Jonathan referred to was the Jackson family compound, Hayvenhurst, which was just three miles from Jonathan’s home in Lake Encino Drive. Jonathan’s mother confirmed their meeting, saying;
Jonathan went to the same private school as Tito’s sons. Jonathan played softball and Dee Dee asked if Taj and Tarryll could come along and from then on we were friends with the Jacksons. We even went on holidays together.
When asked if Jonathan spent much time at Hayvenhurst, Marion Spence added:
No, not really. We would only go together as a family, if we were going for dinner.
This comment will become especially important later, but let’s look at how things took rather a contradictory and radical turn in 1983. From Victor Gutierrez’s book…
As he grew up, Jackson gave him more attention and invited him over more often. When Jonathan was 10 years old, they would play games until late. He would then be invited to spend the night in the family house.
It was not until the fall of 1984, after years of uninterrupted work that started with the release of Thriller in 1982 and as the Victory Tour was nearing it’s end, that Jackson had more time to spare and was able to connect more closely with the golden-haired, blue eyed object of his interest.
Emmanuel Lewis, Jackson’s then current constant prepubescent companion, would be fourteen years of age in the following March – around the age that Jackson would eventually settle on to “retire” his special friends – so would need to be replaced. Jackson’s hand may have been forced though. In J. Randy Taborelli’s book Michael Jackson, The Magic and The Madness it was revealed that Emmanuel’s mother, Margaret, had become concerned about some rather bizarre things had been happening – including Jackson and Lewis booking in to an upmarket LA hotel as father and son. She decided to put some distance between her son and Jackson, forbidding Emmanuel to spend time alone with his adult friend.
Who better to replace Lewis, then, than a boy who was already well within the entertainer’s sphere of influence?
For Jonathan, this time coincided with upheavals at home. His mother had met and fallen in love with George Fox, a sixty one year old Beverly Hills dentist of some note, and they were planning their wedding which was to take place on the 26th of January 1985. Jonathan had up until then been the man of the house, so it must have come as quite a shock to be displaced.
What too, was the attraction in spending time around a man who was old enough to be his grandfather? The lure of spending time with Michael, whose apparent tastes in music, reading and leisure activities were much more in line with an eleven year old boy, must have have been overwhelming – not to mention the extra attention Jackson was willing to spend on the boy compared to his newlywed mother and stepfather. Naturally Jonathan gravitated to someone who he saw as fun, someone who would also lavish attention and gifts on him.
Estela Rodriguez, who worked at Hayvenhurst at the time and was responsible for Jackson’s section of the house, was well placed to witness the fact that the relationship deepened and more frequent sleepovers, in Jackson’s room, occurred.
Jonathan was one of the boys that the singer was most obsessed with. It was 1985. “I remember Jonathan had precious blue eyes that Michael was mad about. Michael loved him a lot, and in his room he had lots of photos of him, even more than of his own family. Jonathan was a serious boy and he was always thinking. Perhaps Jonathan gave him photos of himself to confirm, in a way, his loving desires. I saw them hug and kiss but never saw anything sexual between them, although the boy stayed and slept in the same bed as Michael. I am sure about this because I was the one who changed the sheets.”
The description is a little over the top, and may have been embellished by Gutierrez, but Estela confirms here the sleepovers took place in Jackson’s room.
Mary Coller, Jackson’s personal assistant and MJJ Productions employee at the time, said that Jonathan would spend at least two nights a week sleeping over in Jackson’s bed. Occasionally Mary would call Marion to arrange the sleepover, but more often than not Jackson would call Marion himself.
Marion’s insistence when she talked to us that it was “the entire family” that was friends with Michael, and it was only the “entire family” that visited Hayvenhurst seemed to be an attempt at distraction.
Blanca Francia, who replaced Estela Rodriguez as Jackson’s maid at the end of 1985, said that Jonathan was in Jackson’s room for long periods of time.
I never saw the mother or father. The boy called Michael “Daddy”. He was so close to Michael, he just wanted to rub up against him and stay with him. He wouldn’t talk to anyone else, he would only sweet talk with Michael. Just Michael. Even if I was in the room, he would only talk to Michael, like I wasn’t even there.
They were sleeping together. I would come back to work the next morning and they would still be in the room.
In court documents presented at Jackson’s 2005 trial, Francia reiterated the strong relationship Jackson had with Jonathan. She stated in police interviews that they slept together, and that she had to lie to Jackson’s parents Joe and Katherine, telling them that there was no boy in Michael Jackson’s quarters. She also noted that when cleaning Jackson’s room she had to pick up Jonathan’s underwear.
If there had been any doubt about how close Jackson and Jonathan were, their behavior on the set of Captain EO quelled all uncertainty. Jackson didn’t even attempt to hide his attraction to the boy. By then, he’d become an expert at deflecting suspicion – explaining away his earlier friendship with Emmanuel Lewis had made him adept at telling the right stories to those curious enough to ask questions. Jackson and Jonathan spent every moment they could together on the set, hugging and nuzzling each other, whispering in each other’s ears and giggling. On the day Jonathan’s mother came to the set it’s presumed they toned things down a little, as Jonathan didn’t look happy at all while posing for photos.
On the 31st of July, Jackson sprained his hand while executing a dance sequence during filming and needed to go to a hospital to have it checked. He chose the Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, a place he knew well, having been admitted there in January the previous year after being burned during a Pepsi commercial shoot. Jonathan joined him. This was the first time much of the press knew about Michael’s new friend. If Emmanuel had caused raised eyebrows, Jonathan only made them arch more.
When they asked about this new boy, the press were reassured by Jackson that he was a “longtime family friend”, a clever ruse no doubt intended to deflect suspicion about the boy on his arm. Jackson and Jonathan were photographed together talking to a patient and doctors, and there was another shot where Jonathan had his arm around Michael’s waist and Jackson had a possessive arm around Jonathan’s neck. The photos show that they shared a physical closeness not normally seen between a twenty seven year old man and a twelve year old boy. There is absolutely no doubt their relationship was an intimate one.
Further reports put Jackson and Jonathan at a visit to Ward Kimball (a retired Disney animator best known for his work on the features Snow White, Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio), at the railway museum he had set up in his expansive backyard in May 1986; a visit to New York in December 1986 (where they were photographed together after attending a screening of the movie Little Shop of Horrors at the Beekman Theater on the 19th); and several visits to Disneyland.
We can see now that there is a great deal of incongruity between reality and the story Marion Spence painted to us. We have evidence of Jackson and Jonathan’s close and intense relationship from paparazzi photographs and eyewitness accounts of them together. In the alternative, we have that same relationship downplayed by Marion, who makes it more general and inclusive of the entire Spence clan: “We were all friends with the Jacksons, my whole family”. Why would Marion want to make the friendship less than it was? She would have known about Jonathan’s sleepovers at Hayvenhurst, the days spent with Jackson on the set of Captain EO, the visits to Disneyland, the trip to New York.
The most likely explanation is that she knows how all of it must look in hindsight, especially after Jackson was accused multiple times of molesting boys. Rather than be open and honest about how deep her son’s relationship with Jackson had been, she attempts to rewrite history and minimize what actually happened so as to avoid being possibly labelled as a careless parent.
It is also possible that Jonathan himself pressed his mother to rebuff questions about his relationship with Jackson in an effort to protect his privacy and avoid more searching questions. In any case, Jonathan has always held the line that he was not molested.
He told Jackson biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli for his book The Magic and the Madness:
‘When we hang out. He’s just like any other guy. He never talks about himself, only about what is going on with others. We never talk about show business. Sometimes he’ll put on a disguise when we’re in public. When we go to Disneyland, we’ll go through the back and take all the alleys and back ways and get in front of the lines. He can’t wait in the line, no way. He would cause a riot. We move fast through Disneyland; if people get a good look at him, that’ll be it for that outing.
‘He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. He’s smart. He knows a lot about everything. He’s a kid. He never really had a childhood, and he’s having it now. The stuff I read in the papers about him, I know it’s all a bunch of B.S. I just ignore it. A couple of times I’ve asked him about girlfriends and stuff, but we never really get into that. We don’t talk about the plastic surgery either, because it’s none of my business. He never brings it up. It’s not like he says, “Well, how do you like my new chin?”
As J. Randy Taraborrelli’s book was published in 1991, Jonathan must have been 17 or 18 when that interview took place. (Jackson had yet to be accused of sex abuse.)
In 1995, when he was 22, Jonathan told Victor Gutierrez:
Nothing sexual ever happened. No amount of money in the world would make me speak of things that didn’t happen between us. I love Michael. We should never talk to other people about personal friendships.
Jonathan also repeatedly insisted he had never been molested when interviewed by law enforcement. He was always adamant that Jackson was innocent.
To put Jonathan’s denials in perspective, and before we take them at face value, let’s look at what Kenneth Lanning wrote about disclosure in his Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis piece:
Most of these victims never disclose their victimization. Younger children may believe they did something “wrong” or “bad” and are afraid of getting into trouble.
Older children may be more ashamed and embarrassed. Many victims not only do not disclose, but they strongly deny it happened when confronted. In one case several boys took the stand and testified concerning the high moral character of the accused molester. When the accused molester changed his plea to guilty, he admitted that the boys who testified for him were also victims. In another case a 16-year-old victim tried to murder the man who had sexually exploited him but still denied he was sexually victimized. He pled guilty rather than use the abuse as a mitigating circumstance and publicly admit he had engaged in sexual activity with a man. He privately admitted his victimization to a prosecutor, but said he would always publicly deny it.
The most common reasons that victims do not disclose are stigma of homosexuality, lack of societal understanding, presence of positive feelings for the offender, embarrassment or fear over their victimization, or do not believe they are victims. Since most of the offenders are male, the stigma of homosexuality is a serious problem for male victims. Although being seduced by a male child molester does not necessarily make a boy a homosexual, the victims do not understand this. If a victim does disclose, he believes that he is risking significant ridicule by his peers and lack of acceptance by his family.
It’s time to take short pause in our story to discuss the friendship so far. Jackson, by his own admission, enjoyed the company of young boys and used them in an attempt to “recapture his childhood”.
Yet we have something odd going on here. Also living at Hayvenhurst were his nephews Taj, Taryll and TJ, whom he could supposedly have “sleepovers” with anytime he wanted, yet Jackson chose to bring in Jonathan to share his bed. Why was that?
There are two explanations and neither are flattering to Jackson. The first is that Tito and DeeDee Jackson forbade their sons to stay in Uncle Michael’s room, suspicious about Jackson’s interest in young boys.
The other explanation is that Jackson preferred to spend his nights with a 12 year old boy he found more attractive than his nephews. We know that over the years, even though Jackson was friends with his prepubescent nephews and cousins, and even shared his bed with them on occasion, he much rather enjoyed sleeping with his “special friends” one-on-one.
By more attractive we mean either in looks – Jonathan’s blond hair and blue eyes must have been a factor for Jackson – something the singer subsequently proved with his choice of boys; or attractive in the sense that Jackson preferred to look outside the family for boys to become intimate enough with to share a bed and all that entailed.
This proves that Jackson was interested in more than just sleepovers and his friendships weren’t as innocent as he made them out to be. It was a deliberate arrangement to get unrelated boys into his bed.
By the start of 1987 Jackson must have been starting to think about Jonathan getting older. In December 1986, as you can see in the accompanying photo, Jonathan was growing rapidly – and soon Jackson would lose interest. However, as was his pattern for years to come, Jackson never gave up one boy until he was involved with another.
Jackson’s solution was to start grooming Jimmy Safechuck. In early 1987, Jackson took his first step in his plans for a replacement for Jonathan. It’s highly unlikely Jonathan knew anything about Jimmy or that his big friend was planning to move on – Jackson was very good at keeping his boys, as well as other aspects of his life, tightly compartmentalized. On March 10, 1987 Jackson penned a letter to young Jimmy which would put a new “special friendship” in train.
Thank you for your letter. It was nice hearing from you again! I’ve been busy working on a new video for my album and have been really busy.
It was fun working with you on the Pepsi commercial! Maybe we can work together again. I’d like to have you come and visit me on the set sometime or when I have some free time you can come to my house.
Keep sending me letters! I love to hear from you!
Speak with you soon, [Michael Jackson]
Jonathan’s special time with Jackson was obviously drawing to a close. In later years Jackson became notorious for moving on to a new boy when he thought it necessary, as evidenced by this exchange between then Santa Barbara District Attorney Thomas Sneddon and Wade Robson’s mother, Joy, at Jackson’s 2005 molestation trial. Even though Joy tries to downplay the effect this has on the discarded boy, she confirms Jackson engaged in the practice of dumping and replacing.
Q. Okay. Do you recall a conversation in which you told June Chandler that some day Jordan was going to be replaced by another one of Michael Jackson’s friends?
Q. And you referred to these people as “special friends,” correct?
A. According to my transcript, yes.
Q. You don’t ever remember using that phrase now?
Q. But you did use it in your transcript back in 1993?
Q. And in a conversation you told June Chandler that with these special friends, that when Mr. Jackson moves on to the next special friend, that it has a tremendous emotional impact on the children when they’re no longer the favorite, correct?
A. As does everybody when they lose a friend.
Q. I’m sorry?
A. As does everyone if you lose a friend or a friend becomes friendly with somebody else.
Q. Did you not, in that conversation, specifically refer to the situation where a young child was a friend of Mr. Jackson’s and is replaced by another young child and that that has — and you were reflecting upon the emotional problems it creates for that child?
With work starting on his Bad album, the attendant filming of videos and the announcement of the Bad tour scheduled to start in September 1987 – which required planning and rehearsals to take place – Jackson was a busy man. However, much of this took place within close proximity to Hayvenhurst, so Jackson still had time up his sleeve to fulfill a dream he had been thinking of for a while: procuring his own home, far away from prying eyes, where he could indulge his peccadilloes in private.
Jackson spent a lot of time in early 1987 looking for a ranch suitable for his needs, usually traveling with Bill Bray and agent Gloria Berlin, but more often than not also accompanied by Jonathan in an effort to ward off the boredom of the long drives through the countryside going from ranch to ranch. Gloria noted:
They were always laughing and playing – playing patty-cake together.
Jackson settled on Neverland for his new home in August, before he left for the Bad tour. Negotiations took place until December 18 1987, with the sale finalized on February 28 1988 after he returned from his Hawaiian vacation with Jimmy Safechuck.
For Jonathan, Jackson departing on the Bad tour was the end of the intense phase of the relationship. They would never be as close again. Jonathan was approaching fifteen years of age, apparently too old for Jackson (who had by now moved on to Jimmy anyway).
That wasn’t the end of their friendship though, according to Jonathan. Unfortunately for Jonathan, Jackson was notorious for frequent phone number changes that ensured the star could tightly regulate whom got instant access and who would have to be screened – a clever way to “ditch” those low on the totem pole. Jonathan failed to make the new list of “approved” persons and had to take a roundabout route to talk to Jackson: call Jackson’s secretary, make his request to speak to his friend, and then await a call back, which could take a few days, as he told J. Randy Taraborrelli:
‘It’s hard to get in touch with him, though. I usually have to call his secretary, and then a couple of days later, he’ll call me.’
Just as he was with Emmanuel Lewis, Jackson appears to have been careful in his handling of Jonathan after moving on to a new boy. This was one of his earliest “special friends”, so perhaps Jackson couldn’t be confident that his efforts to ensure his don’t tell exhortations would be heeded, and was nervous about whether he could count on Jonathan to remain silent about their relationship. Curiously it appears whatever Jonathan wanted, Jonathan got.
Orietta Murdock, Jackson’s personal assistant at the time, said Jonathan
…would call often and ask for concert tickets. Michael had given us instructions to give him what ever he wanted. I remember when Michael gave him a convertible Mustang.
When Victor Gutierrez spoke with Jonathan again, the young man denied that Jackson had bought him a car. “I bought the Mustang” he said. Orietta Murdoch scoffed when that was put to her.
“A young boy of sixteen isn’t able to buy a brand-new Mustang convertible, and if he had, it would have been with Michael’s money. I was the one who received the call to start processing the purchase of the car.”
While in Victor Gutierrez’s book Murdoch often mixed up Jonathan Spence and Jimmy Safechuck, we can confidently say this anecdote was about Jonathan, because Jimmy never mentioned anything about a brand new Mustang in his court complaint.
Could Jonathan have bought the car himself? Though at fifteen he began working as a sculptor and painter for a special effects company, he was only bringing in about two hundred dollars a week – a sports car with a price tag around $15,000 was likely far too expensive for a sixteen-year-old. Jackson probably funded the purchase just as Murdoch described.
Murdoch also told Diane Dimond that Jonathan would frequently ask for plane tickets to Europe and, as Murdoch stated earlier, whatever Jonathan asked for, he got.
Jackson invited Jonathan to visit Neverland with his family, according to his mother Marion, “half a dozen times”. Marion insisted that they stayed in the guest house “as a family”, Jonathan “never slept alone with Michael”, and they found the ranch “wonderful”.
The biggest visit to Neverland for Jonathan was to come in around June 1997. The date can’t be confirmed at this stage, although we tried. We are relying on Jonathan’s mother who gave us this information, and she has her reasons for being vague about what happened on this occasion at Neverland.
Foremost of the reasons is her non-attendance at her son’s wedding. Marion Spence had such a deep dislike of the bride, Myra, that she stayed away from the nuptials to protest Jonathan’s choice.
However, what better way to impress a new bride, the rest of the family, and friends than to celebrate a party at Neverland? While we could find no evidence of a registered marriage at Neverland in Santa Barbara County records, Marion insisted it took place (and it could possibly have been a confidential wedding). In attendance were Tito’s sons – friends with Jonathan since grade school days – Taj, Tarryl and TJ.
Marion also told us that Michael Jackson did not attend Jonathan and Myra’s wedding.
That Jackson did not attend is no surprise if the wedding was in fact held at that time, Jackson was busy with the European leg of his History tour so would have found it difficult to get back. In any case, did Jackson really need to be there? Jonathan was no longer a “special friend” anyway, he’d proven his steadfast loyalty to Jackson throughout the tribulations of the Chandler allegations, and he certainly didn’t need any more attention from Jackson to keep toeing the Michael never touched me line.
By now you may be thinking if he was abused why would Jonathan choose to get married at at the home of his abuser? That’s a fair question.
Most victims of acquaintance molesters don’t believe they have been abused, they believe that what they experience is love, not because it actually is love but because they have been groomed to believe it. Just like the adult that believes that the whippings they received from their father or mother when they were children were not an act of abuse, but an act of “love”, so too do victims of acquaintance molesters believe their abuse was part of a deep friendship.
The Abuse Watch website explains how the “Secret” is the key ingredient for an acquaintance molester to not only carry out abuse, but to ensure that the victim stays silent.
The ‘Secret’ is the bond established by the abuser with the child victim. It ensures that nobody knows of the abuse other than the abuser and the abused. It is kept in place by embarrassment, fear, respect; even love.
Respect or love for the abuser – strange as this may seem – is fostered by the attention and concern that the acquaintance molester has shown the child.
For this reason the child will keep the secret intact out of a need for the attention received from the abuser and the fear of losing a friend should the abuser be caught.
Even into adulthood, victims can still have a high regard for their abusers, because they don’t see their erstwhile best friends as abusers but someone to be admired. This isn’t unusual behavior if you study the world of acquaintance molesters. Unfortunately, to understand Michael Jackson, his motivations and his actions you do need to delve into that distasteful milieu.
There are many objectionable sites on the Internet where these subjects are discussed, sites that may get you into trouble with law enforcement should you visit them, so I’ve chosen a discussion from a Google Group to safely illustrate this point.
These pedophiles are discussing aspects of their relationships with boys.
There are several men today, whom I mentored when they were boys, who hold me in much higher esteem than they did their absent/no good/worthless fathers. They still call me for advice, I’ve even stood in as Father or been the Best Man at their weddings. That says a lot of where I stand in their hearts.
(note the similarity in language – Jackson also talked of ‘mentoring’ his special friends)
For reasonable people, this is counter-intuitive. Why would a man want their abuser as their best man? The answer is that the victims are so thoroughly groomed that they accept and even welcome the pedophile into their adult life.
So really, to give his wedding at Neverland* as a reason to prove that Jonathan was not abused is no proof at all – adult victims can and do remain close to the people who took advantage of them as children.
Some people, especially fans, may scoff at this point.
Imagine then, if the counter proof to the argument put forward by Jackson apologists – “Jonathan wasn’t abused because he got married at Neverland” – was that Jackson owned a nude photo of Jonathan? More of that later.
Life was going well for Jonathan – he was married, and was working in a field he loved, special effects for movies. He had already worked on effects for several movies including Backdraft (when he was just seventeen), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Santa Clause, and the Travolta/Cage blockbuster Face/Off (Jonathan built the life-like, breathing, stand in bodies for the surgery scene).
Then, in 2004, came the earth shattering Arvizo accusations, and things were to heat up for Jonathan. He didn’t need to be interviewed by law enforcement again, but this time around there was a complication.
Back in November 1993, police searched Jackson’s old quarters at Hayvenhurst. It was left untouched since his relocation to Neverland, and, amid the static junk, police found an incriminating photo of a young boy. Having already interviewed the then young adult, and knowing what he looked like, the police believed the photo depicted a naked Jonathan Spence.
Frustrated, the police could do nothing. It wasn’t illegal to own photographs of children, even of his “special friends”, if they weren’t lewd or suggestive. A reasonable piece of circumstantial evidence, of course, but the matter had to be dropped.
However, in Jackson’s molestation trial in 2005, the prosecution sought to introduce** the photo into evidence to prove he had a sexual interest in young boys; this would cause a problem for Jackson and Jonathan. The prosecution’s description of the photograph in the motion included the phrase “believed to be Jonathan Spence”.
That anybody doubts the photo was real, and existed, is incredible. The prosecution filed the motion in January 2005 seeking to include the compromising picture at trial, I know of no case ever where either side wanted to introduce evidence that had never existed. The photo, and ones like it, were also referenced many times in materials referring to that 1993 search at Hayvenhurst.
Victor Guitterez, who appeared to have excellent contacts in the Los Angeles Police Department, wrote
…the police raided Jackson’s parent’s house in Encino from about 2pm to 9pm. During this raid, the police seized a photo of a blond boy of about 7 years old who was nude and seemed to be holding his penis.
Leroy Thomas, one of the fired “Hayvenhurst Five” security guards, was interviewed by Diane Dimond for Hard Copy on November 23, 1993 following that raid on the Jackson family home. According to Thomas, who worked for the Jacksons from 1987 to 1993, Jackson called him and directed him to retrieve and then destroy a picture of nude young boy that was hidden in his locked bathroom. Thomas described the photo as being a “side view of a totally naked prepubescent blond-haired boy with both his genitals and buttocks showing.”
Thomas said he was instructed by Jackson to destroy the photo, but as it was a Polaroid all he could do was “rip the back off of the picture.” When Thomas appeared on the Maury Povich show, he offered to take a lie detector test over his allegations. Interestingly, he passed the question about finding the picture, but failed the test when questioned about destroying it. Why would Thomas lie about destroying the photo? He probably wanted to deflect criticism when challenged as to why he saw that photo but failed to report it to law enforcement.
Some may say of Thomas, “oh he’s just a disgruntled employee” and dismiss his claims on that basis, but that would be overlooking a very important point. Even if Thomas was a disgruntled employee, and he was making up lies, why would he make up this particular lie about a nude photo of a blond haired boy?
Surely if Thomas wanted to fabricate a salacious story, he could have come up with something better, such as a photo of Jackson and a boy nude together, for instance. Why even a photo at all? Why not a child pornography magazine, which would have served the dual purpose of earning him more money in the tabloid press and incriminating his former employer even further?
In light of the evidence that the the police found the photo later, we have to assume that Thomas’ story about seeing the picture is true.
Yet another example is the December 6 1993 edition of Jet, a magazine that was hardly hostile to Jackson. Mention is made of a “nude photo” being seized by the police when they searched the Jackson family home.
Finally, Maureen Orth detailed in her January 1994 article about the 1993 allegations Nightmare in Neverland:
…police searched the Jackson-family home in Encino, looking for evidence in the child-abuse case. Among Michael’s things they reportedly found a nude photo of a little boy.
Blanca Francia told Christopher Andersen for his book Michael Jackson Unauthorised that Jackson enjoyed taking photos of boys for his own pleasure.
With a Polaroid camera he kept in his room, Michael took photos of his special friends. Francia spotted one such snapshot lying on a table in Michael’s room. Francia said it showed a particular favorite of Michael’s sitting on the edge of his bed apparently nude, with only a sheet draped over his genitals. Beneath that photo were more Polaroids – close-ups of the boy’s lips, his open mouth, his face. Francia placed them back where she found them.
Jackson, for his part, publicly refused to admit the nude photo of Jonathan Spence was found in his bedroom, even though he knew the police had it in their possession and knew where it had been found. During his June 1995 Primetime interview with Diane Sawyer, she asked him about nude photos and he point blank denied possessing any pictures of nude boys.
JACKSON: The idea — it just isn’t fair — what they put me through. ‘Cause there wasn’t one piece of information that says I did this. And anyway, they turned my room upside-down, went through all my books, all my videotapes, all my private things, and they found nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing that could say, “Michael Jackson did this.” Nothing!
SAWYER: But let me ask you a couple of questions —
JACKSON: To this day nothing. Still, nothing…
SAWYER: Let me ask you —
JACKSON: — nothing, nothing, nothing!
SAWYER: Nothing. We got nothing. As you may or may not know, we have called everyone we can call. We have checked everything we can check, we have gone and tried to see if what we heard before is, in fact, the case…I want to ask you about two things. These reports that we read over and over again that in your room they found photographs of young boys —
JACKSON: Not of young boys, of children, all kinds of girls and…everything.
SAWYER: And that they found photographs — books — of young boys who were undressed.
JACKSON [voice drops and slowly shakes head]: No…
Maureen Orth wrote about Jackson’s denials of the images of nude children in her September 1995 article The Jackson Jive:
According to District Attorney Tom Sneddon, “The idea that there are not any photos or pictures or anything is pure poppycock. In the search, Jackson said, they didn’t find anything unless it was ‘something somebody sent me.’ The statement there were no books or photos of nude children on his premises is incorrect. That is not truthful.”
Investigation sources say police found a lewd, commercially published hardcover book of black-and-white photos of nude boys aged about 7 to 12 “at play,” and according to one, that book “is often found in the home of pedophiles.” There was also a picture of a nude little boy, scantily draped with a sheet, found in Jackson’s bedroom.
The book referred to is of course Boys Will Be Boys, the kind of book that is popular with pedophiles because it features photographs of naked boys and it is legal to own. Jackson denies knowing about this book, yet had inscribed on the flyleaf:
“Look at the true spirit of happiness and joy in these boys’ faces. This is the spirit of boyhood, a life I never had and will always dream of. This is the life I want for my children. MJ.”
It’s quite clear that Jackson was a liar.
These contemporaneous articles and book excerpts, combined with the prosecution motion, show there is no doubt that the Polaroid was found at Hayvenhurst when, and where, the police said it was. What then could be done with a nude photo of a young blond haired boy “believed to be Jonathan Spence”?
The trial did allow for character witnesses, with celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross slated to appear, and should Jonathan have offered to testify as a character witness in Jackson’s defense, Judge Melville would no doubt have allowed the photograph to be presented.
One thing the defense wouldn’t want was a naked photo of one of the pop singer’s “special friends” introduced, so they would have warned Jonathan to stay away. Just as the matching photographs and description of Jackson’s genitals weren’t allowed to be entered as evidence in the trial because Jordan Chandler wouldn’t appear, so too the nude boy photograph couldn’t be allowed in because Jonathan Spence wouldn’t appear.
Perhaps though, Jonathan simply refused requests to testify in Jackson’s defense.
Jonathan told Victor Gutierrez in 1995 that he
had not spoken to Jackson in years, but during the time of the  investigation, Jackson called him to see if everything was okay, and if he was being bothered by a lot of people. During the conversation, Jonathan asked Jackson if he had been with other boys such as Sean Lennon and Emmanuel Lewis. Jackson told him that it was all under control and that he shouldn’t worry about it.
We can assume that in 2005 Jackson did approach Jonathan just as he had in 1993, and just as he approached his other special friends such as Wade, Brett, Macauley and Jimmy for the Arvizo trial.
Whatever the case was, Jonathan never appeared, the nude photo wasn’t allowed in, and Jackson and his team could breathe a sigh of relief.
Fast forward a year, and we find out that not even a fairy-tale Neverland wedding could make a marriage endure. In the closing days of 2006, Myra filed for divorce from Jonathan, and in May 2007 it was finalized.
Today, Jonathan is married to a cinematographer and has two daughters.
In conclusion, we’ve learned that even though Jonathan Spence was only the second “special friend” that he was obsessed with, Jackson had already established specific patterns of behavior that lasted for decades.
- Sharing his bed with unrelated children
Even though he had nieces, nephews and cousins who were willing to share his bed for sleepovers, Jackson favored bringing unrelated boys into his home and his bed. This even extended to taking them on tour with him, with Jackson preferring boys from outside his family to accompany him. It wasn’t about having sleepovers with children per se, for Jackson it was some other need that drove him to shun children from his own family so that other people’s sons could take their place.
- Introducing his special friends as family members
Jackson introduced his boys to others in various ways, all family related. Jonathan was an “orphan” Jackson was purportedly taking care of, other boys such as Brett Barnes and Wade Robson were introduced as cousins, Omer Bhatti was given the moniker son. Jackson also had most boys call him Daddy. Even Brett Barnes inadvertently revealed Jackson’s penchant for bringing boys closer to him by feigning familial closeness:21 Q. Did he ever tell you that he was like a22 father to you?23 A. He may have, yes.
24 Q. Did he ever tell you that he considered you
25 to be like a son to him?
26 A. Yes.
Jackson expended a great deal of time, sometimes years, grooming boys and their families. He also spent a great deal of money on gifts and travel for boys and their parents. He groomed Jonathan from age five, knowing sometime in the future he would like to get closer to the boy.
- Hiding in plain sight
Jackson never bothered to hide his affection for young boys, yet cloaked that affection in the illusion of him supposedly loving children, a result of missing out on a childhood. This desensitized people to his touching, hugging and kissing of young boys, dissipating their suspicion of Jackson’s true motives. While many fell for this deception, it was only because they weren’t privy to the sexual games that Jackson persuaded his young friends to take part in behind closed doors. As a result of Jackson’s aura and power as a successful celebrity, there were far too many people willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, even after it became known he was molesting Jordan Chandler. To this day, even after all the evidence of Jackson’s inappropriate activities with young boys, there are still people prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. For what motive we can’t be sure, but incredibly it does still happen.
- Moving on
Jackson only remained close and intimate with his “special friends” while they were at his age of attraction, as they got older he began grooming a new boy to take their place. As Jonathan got older, the entertainer started grooming Jimmy to take Jonathan’s place, just as he had groomed Jonathan to take Emmanuel Lewis’s place. Jackson usually stayed friends with the boys he moved on from though, albeit not as close as before.
To us, we saw the pattern that Ken Lanning described for Diane Dimond in Be Careful Who You Love:
At any given time, the pedophile is attempting to do four things; he is recruiting, seducing, molesting, and – to put it very bluntly – dumping. In other words, he recruits the kid, he seduces the kid, he molests the kid, and at some point the kid gets too old so he wants the kid to move on… to get to his next victim.
Jackson exhibited this behavior with Emmanuel, Jonathan and Jimmy – and did the same with boys for decades.
It seems incredible that Jackson was grooming and sleeping with young boys for more than ten years before he was accused of molestation by the Chandlers, with most people blissfully unaware he was sharing his bed on a very regular basis with a succession of young friends. Even more disturbing is that after this fact was disclosed, many of those same people bought his public relations lies as to why he was sleeping with young boys, especially when he had his own nephews he could have shared a bed with if all he wanted was “sleepovers”.
Today, there are still people who deny labeling Jackson’s activities as inappropriate, even though they have supposedly researched carefully. It’s not rocket science folks.
*We are expecting more information on Jonathan’s wedding at Neverland soon, we’ll fill you in on the details when they come to hand.