15 tears ago today, Michael Jackson was acquitted of all charges that he molested a 13-year-old boy. Jackson had befriended the youth as he was recovering from cancer in 2003.
Jackson’s complete acquittal was a hard defeat for a then retiring prosecutor who had spent more than a decade pursuing the singer on pedophilia accusations.
The trial ended after nearly four-months and featured 140 witnesses. Each painted a clashing portrait of the then 46-year-old pop superstar.
He was either: Pedophile or Peter Pan.
“Mr. Jackson, your bail is exonerated and you are released,” Judge Rodney S. Melville said according to reports; after the string of not-guilty verdicts were read.
Michael Jackson withstood attacks on his character and irreparable damage to his brand from the trial. It brought intense international scrutiny not only to Jackson and his family but also the jury.
The jury gave a note for the judge to read out in court.
They felt “the weight of the world’s eyes upon us all” and that they had “thoroughly and meticulously” studied all the evidence.
The note concluded with a plea:
“We would like the public to allow us to return to our lives as anonymously as we came.”
The jury was composed of eight women and four men their seven days of deliberations began June 3.
“We expected better evidence, something that was a little more convincing,” a female juror told The New York Times. “It just wasn’t there.”
Even in death, Michael Jackson’s legacy has questions swirling over it. With the 2019 documentary, Leaving Neverland, Wade Robson and James Safechuck accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them when they were children.
The Jackson estate and Jackson’s family have consistently rebuffed Robson and Safechuck’s allegations. They’ve even highlighted, on numerous occasions, that Robson testified Jackson never molested him at the pop star’s 2005 criminal trial.
In addition, Safechuck similarly told authorities that Jackson never abused him. Still an entire documentary was made with a corresponding post-interview with none other than Oprah.
Undoubtedly, the greatest entertainer of all time, Michael Jackson’s legacy will always be polarizing.