Source: Charles Thomson
When you’ve been covering Michael Jackson for any significant period of time, you come to believe that nothing can shock you anymore. Since I began reporting on Michael Jackson for various media organisations, he has announced the biggest concert residency of all time and then died before he could complete it. A doctor has been jailed for his homicide and a posthumous album has caused international scandal by containing tracks allegedly sung by an imposter.
For many years, Michael Jackson’s life (and after-life) has been a quagmire of scandal, controversy and legal wrangling. Presently, entertainment company AEG – which promoted Jackson’s ‘This Is It’ concerts – is on trial over what the singer’s family feels is a modicum of responsibility for his death. Already, witnesses have testified that Jackson was banned from the stage during some rehearsals for fear he would injure himself. A producer has testified to weeping as she saw Jackson rambling at rehearsals that God was speaking to him. She told jurors she had warned senior production members she believed he was dying and needed to be transported to hospital, only for her pleas to go ignored. Less than a week later, he was dead.
To a seasoned Jackson correspondent, none of this was surprising. It seems that not a week goes by without some drama or another engulfing the deceased music legend or those closely associated with him, from copyright disputes to kidnap allegations. But last week there was a development in the Michael Jackson sphere which truly did surprise me. Wade Robson, who has staunchly defended Michael Jackson for 20 years and even testified for him in his 2005 trial, filed papers against various organisations connected to the pop legend, seeking multiple pay-outs for alleged childhood abuse.
The choreographer claims he was sexually abused for seven years, from age seven to age 14. The news has rocked the Michael Jackson community. Those who loved him have sprung to his defence while those who built careers on attacking him had reacted with undisguised glee. Jackson’s ex-wife Debbie Rowe has labeled the financial demands ‘opportunistic’ and Jermaine Jackson has branded the choreographer ‘full of shit’.
Civil rights lawyer Tom Mesereau, who defended Jackson in his 2005 trial, has suggested the claims are ‘suspicious’ as their public filing coincided so neatly with the AEG trial. Indeed, the allegations broke as make-up artist Karen Faye testified that she and others had raised repeated concerns about Jackson’s health but had received callous responses from those in charge. Robson’s televised interview days later ensured little media attention was paid to testimony from an AEG employee that financial papers proved Murray was the company’s employee, not Michael Jackson’s. Wade Robson has repeatedly worked for AEG and apparently already has future work lined up with the corporation, but his lawyer has denied any connection between the court cases.
In light of Robson’s sudden change of tune, I have dusted off my complete trial transcripts from the 2005 government prosecution of Michael Jackson. While many news reports have mentioned that Robson testified for Jackson in the case, few have made any particular effort to underscore the gravity of his testimony.
Wade Robson was such a compelling and assured witness that Michael Jackson chose him to open his defence case at trial. Under sustained and sometimes aggressive questioning by government prosecutor Ron Zonen, Robson not only denied any impropriety on Jackson’s part, but did so repeatedly, vigorously and convincingly – even mocking prosecutors and describing the mere suggestion of sexual abuse at Jackson’s hands as ‘ridiculous’.
As a side-note, the idea that in a trial about alleged child sex abuse, a genuine abuser would choose somebody they had molested for seven years as their first witness to undergo unrelenting government cross-examination may seem somewhat far-fetched to the casual onlooker.
When viewed alongside some of the comments he made on the Today Show this week, Robson’s testimony is likely to cast more than a reasonable doubt over his new claims. He answered clearly and competently to detailed questions about various examples of alleged misconduct. The testimony is so immensely damaging to his new legal demands for money that he and his lawyer have already floated two potential, but arguably equally unconvincing, explanations for the bizarre u-turn.
When the story about his demands for money went live last week, Robson’s lawyer was quoted as saying the choreographer had recovered ‘repressed memories’, a story many suggested could have been designed to explain away Robson’s strenuous denials in the 2005 trial without admitting to perjury. However, Robson’s claim was met with such incredulity – many eminent psychologists do not even believe in repressed memories and even those who do took rather a dim view of Robson’s somewhat extreme story – that he has since changed tact.
Robson claimed in his TV interview this week that the real reason he told jurors he was not molested was that he had not realised that what Jackson allegedly did to him was abusive – another claim guaranteed to raise many an eyebrow. He was a successful, professional 22-year-old man at the time of his testimony.
Under oath in 2005, Robson was asked repeatedly about particular acts and whether he knew Michael Jackson to have performed them upon any child. He responded vehemently that not only had he never witnessed any such behaviour, but he was steadfast in his opinion that Michael Jackson would never have engaged in it.
Looking back over the 2005 court documents, the latest explanation for his testimony simply does not stand up to scrutiny. For instance, he was asked specifically whether Jackson had touched his body. Regardless of whether he believed Jackson’s conduct to constitute sexual abuse, if Jackson had indeed touched his body, the clear answer would have been ‘yes’. But it wasn’t ‘yes’. It was ‘no’. Over, and over, and over again.
He even testified that after what he now claims were several years of sexual abuse at Jackson’s hands, he returned to the scene of the alleged crimes more than 20 times in later life, with friends and relatives in tow, for relaxing getaways. He also testified to remaining in touch with Jackson and still considering him a close friend. Indeed, several years after the trial, Robson continued to socialise with Jackson.
Shortly after Jackson’s death was announced in 2009, Robson wrote that Jackson was ‘one of the main reasons I believe in the pure goodness of humankind’. According to Jackson’s brother Jermaine, Robson and his mother helped him pen portions of his autobiography about the media’s unfair portrayal of his brother as a child molester. Indeed, since Jackson’s death Robson has paid public tribute to the star repeatedly, as recently as 2012. He even applied last year for a job choreographing a tribute show to his alleged molester, but did not get the gig.
Wade Robson has filed a creditor’s claim against Jackson’s Estate, seeking a cash pay-out for alleged childhood abuse. He has also filed a civil lawsuit against various Jackson-affiliated companies, seeking further financial compensation for his alleged abuse.
He insisted this week that his new claims were ‘not about money’.
The full transcript of Robson’s testimony on May 5, 2005, totals almost 14,000 words and runs across 60 pages of A4. It includes lots of repetition and discussion about where he lived, when his parents separated and various other tangential asides. Below, I have extracted what I believe to be the key testimony. It is difficult to see how, given the existence of this sworn testimony, Robson could ever convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Jackson had ever acted inappropriately in his presence.
A cynical person might therefore interpret Robson’s high profile TV interview this week as an attempt to avoid ever getting into a courtroom and having a jury test his new claims. How many more high profile public attacks can Jackson’s Estate suffer before it is forced to begin considering a settlement? At this stage, the ability to damage the Estate’s earning potential is about all Robson has got on his side – because the evidence is firmly on Michael Jackson’s.
Here is the testimony nobody else in the media is showing you. See for yourself.
Click here to read testimony: