Michael Jackson Might Have Been Framed. The Evidence That Has Been Ignored For Years Finally Comes Out.
This piece is based on the article 'Was Michael Jackson Framed?' by Mary A. Fisher. It was published in GQ magazine in October of 1994.
When Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009, an amazing transformation occurred.
For years, the so-called King of Pop had been a punchline. If you made a reference to MJs sleepovers, or his Neverland Ranch, you were guaranteed a laugh - albeit a cheap one.
Then the man died. Suddenly the laughter stopped, and a ubiquitous summertime sadness set in. But the bittersweet remembrances did not fuel a re-evaluation of the innuendoes and allegations that had dogged the superstar for the last fifteen years of his life.
Now, on the eighth anniversary of Michaels death, a little-read GQ article from 1994 has resurfaced that may do just that. It offers a detailed account of how the eccentric music icon found himself at the heart of a child sex scandal, and raises serious questions about the motives of his accusers.
Its a story of compassion, greed, drugs, manipulation, jealousy, and ambition. And it begins with a broken down car on Wilshire Boulevard.
When Jacksons van broke down on the crowded LA thoroughfare, he was conveniently spotted by a man who worked for a nearby car rental agency. Seeing an opportunity, he offered to help.
The owner of the agency, Dave Schwartz, had heard in advance that a very special guest was en route. He phoned his wife, June, and told her to bring their kids down to the shop. Her 12-year-old son Jordan Chandler (from a previous marriage) was a die-hard Michael Jackson fan.
When June arrived at the shop with her children, she struck up a conversation with Jackson, pointing out that her son had previously sent him fan mail. She even gave the singer her familys home number.
"It was almost like she was forcing Jordan on him," recalled the employee who had brought Jackson to the shop.
Michael Jackson was famously charitable and kind to his fans. While most other celebrities probably wouldnt have picked up the phone, he did. He began calling Jordan at home, and developed a fast friendship with the boy. June and Jordan repeatedly visited Jackson at Neverland Ranch. He bought gifts for the family, and took them on expensive vacations.
Nobody seemed to think anything of it. But then, the following year, Jackson began having sleepovers with Jordan, and people started asking questions. (continued…)
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You might marvel that nobody questioned why a 35-year-old man would seek out a friendship with a 13-year-old boy, but June Schwartz didnt think it odd. Neither did those close to Jackson.
Those who knew and supported him have often explained his affinity for young people by pointing out that Michael basically had to stop being a kid at the age of five.
"He never had a childhood," remarked one of Jacksons former lawyers at time. "He is having one now. His buddies are 12-year-old kids. They have pillow fights and food fights."
Michaels father was, by all accounts, more manager than parent, and ensured that he and his siblings spent their youth hard at work in the studio and on tour. This, perhaps, goes some way to explaining the singers well-documented eccentricities, as well as his commitment to donating money and time to causes benefiting children.
Jacksons friendship with Jordan Chandler might have gone on without raising any suspicions were it not for the involvement of the boys biological father, a man who undeniably had his own motives in this whole murky affair.
Evan Chandler was a dentist who hated his job. He had always dreamt of being a screenwriter; that was why he had originally moved from New York to LA.
Around the time his son Jordan became friendly with Michael Jackson, Chandler got his first big break in show business as a co-writer of the 1993 Mel Brooks film Robin Hood: Men in Tights. He maintained his dentistry practice, however, and his access to mind-altering anaesthetic drugs - a detail that will become important later.
At first, Evan seemed delighted that his son was friends with the most famous musician in the world. He bragged to friends about the relationship, and even let Michael sleep over at his house with Jordan. However, it seems proximity to Jackson caused Evan to lose his sense of proportion.
He began to alternate between asking Jackson for favors and alienating him with threats. At one point, Evan suggested that the singer could build an addition onto his (Evans) house to make the sleepovers easier. Or failing that, maybe Michael could build him a new house altogether.
But Evan began to sour on Jackson when the singer took Jordan and June with him to Monaco for the World Music Awards and left him behind. It was shortly after the trip that he suddenly became suspicious of the pop stars friendship with his son - though he witnessed no misconduct.
Around this time, Evan called Dave Schwartz, Jordans stepfather, to discuss his feelings about Michael Jackson. Schwartz recorded the call.
"We were friends," he said. "I liked [Michael]… There was no reason why he had to stop calling me. I sat in the room one day and talked to Michael and told him exactly what I want out of this whole relationship. What I want."
And Evan had a plan to get what he wanted. (continued…)
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"Its already set," Evan told Schwartz during the same call. "There are other people involved... Ive paid them to do it. Everything's going according to a certain plan that isnt just mine. Once I make that phone call, this guy is going to destroy everybody in sight in any devious, nasty, cruel way that he can do it."
He continued: "And if I go through with this, I win big-time. Theres no way I lose. Ive checked that inside out. I will get everything I want, and they will be destroyed forever. …and Michaels career will be over."
"Does that help Jordan?" Schwartz asked.
"Thats irrelevant to me," Evan answered. "...It will be a massacre if I dont get what I want."
It's pretty clear that, whatever his suspicions, Evan's primary motivation was not protecting his son. But who was the guy who was "going to destroy everybody in sight"?
When Evan Chandler suspected that his son was being molested by Michael Jackson, he went to a lawyer named Barry K. Rothman, a fellow with a dubious reputation of his own.
Accounts of Rothman by associates paint him as the archetypal shady lawyer. Former employees testified that he often refused to pay them until it came to the point of begging. One went so far as to say of Rothman's involvement in the case against Michael Jackson that he could have "devised this whole plan, period. This is within the boundary of his character, to do something like this."
Rothman had a string of apparent financial woes around this time. Despite the fact that he drove a Rolls-Royce corniche, his child support payments were in arrears. He had tried to hide his assets in shell companies so that he could claim bankruptcy, but he had been caught out by a disgruntled client who threatened to report him.
Instead of the police, this is the man who Evan Chandler turned to when he feared his son had been sexually assaulted.
So what exactly was this master plan cooked up between Evan Chandler and Barry Rothman?
Anthony Pellicano, a private investigator hired by Michael Jackson's attorney, had no doubt what it was once he heard the taped conversation between Chandler and Schwartz.
"I knew it was about extortion," he said.
Only one problem: Jordan Chandler had maintained to this point that there was no inappropriate contact between himself and Michael Jackson. Perhaps Evan Chandler had an answer for that too. (continued...)
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On July 11, 1993, Evan asked June if she could send Jordan to stay with him for a one week visitation. Although leery, June acquiesced because Rothman promised her that the child would be returned. He lied.
Some time later, Evan and Jordan met with Michael Jackson and his investigator Anthony Pellicano. After hugging Jackson, Evan read from a document claiming it was probable the singer had molested the boy given the nature of their relationship. (The letter was written by a psychiatrist who had never interviewed any of the parties involved.)
According to Pellicano, Jordan looked dismayed as his father read out accusations he had never made. Later that evening, Chandler and Rothman shared their demand with Pellicano: they wanted $20 million.
Up to this point, nobody but Evan Chandler had accused Jackson of any wrongdoing. But Jordan's memory began to change after a trip to his father's dental practice.
While there, under the supervision of an anesthesiologist named Mark Torbiner, Jordan was for some reason given the drug sodium Amytal. Evan Chandler claims it was so that he could pull a tooth.
But the choice of anaesthetic is highly suspect. "Its a psychiatric medication that cannot be relied on to produce fact," said Dr. Phillip Resnick, a psychiatrist. "People are very suggestible under it. People will say things under sodium Amytal that are blatantly untrue... It is quite possible to implant an idea through the mere asking of a question."
It is after this incident that Jordan Chandler began claiming that the allegations his father had been making against Jackson were true.
When June notified Evan that she would be filing for the return of her son, he quickly took the boy to see Beverly Hills psychiatrist Mathis Abrams - the man who had written the letter Evan had presented to Jackson and Pellicano.
In a three hour interview, Jordan told the psychiatrist that Jackson had in fact engaged in numerous sex acts with him, including masturbation and oral sex. Abrams, being legally required to report such an accusation, passed it along to Children's Services.
That's how the criminal investigation of Michael Jackson began.
Jackson ended up settling the case for $22 million. Jordan's mother, initially supportive of Jackson, eventually turned against him; she claims she was afraid Evan would take custody of their son if she didn't.
The investigation triggered a media firestorm, with outlets offering tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to anyone who had known Jackson and was willing to go public with allegations (many of which turned out to be utterly baseless).
To be clear, there was some evidence against Michael Jackson. When police searched his home, they found books containing pictures of young boys in various states of undress - though the books themselves were not illegal to own.
Jordan Chandler was also apparently able to identify distinctive markings on the singer's genitals.
But this largely overlooked article makes a compelling argument that at least part of the reason these charged where brought against Michael Jackson was in an effort to extort him.
Does that mean he didn't do it? That's for you to decide.
What do you think? Let us know. Thanks for reading!
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