This is the first article in a four part series about the accusations made in the documentary, “Leaving Neverland”.
Stephon Cook had some vivid memories, but these were not loving memories that he would cherish for the rest of his life. These were vivid memories of sexual abuse that he had suffered as a child; suffered at the hands of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. Bernardin was head of the nation’s third largest archdiocese, with nearly three million Catholics that were under his guidance. He was considered a worldwide leader of the church and had taken the initiative in helping to establish an investigative mechanism for handling charges of clerical sexual abuse. His methods were seen as ground breaking and a laudatory example for others across the nation.
Could it be true? Was the Cardinal guilty of such a heinous crime? He had evidence that supposedly corroborated his story. The media reported it as a classic, “he said, she said” event with Cook’s story of abuse holding up against Bernardin unequivocal and unchanging denial. The Cardinal never wavered. He claimed that he was not guilty of these crimes and that he had faith in the American justice system that the people would see the truth.
This is when Stephon Clark filed a $10 million-dollar lawsuit filed against the Cardinal and the Catholic church. Mr. Clark believed that he should be compensated for his pain and anguish for all the time that he suffered at the hands of the Cardinal and the church.
Bernardin had a “spotless” record as a leader and servant in his community. He was also pro-active when it came to actual victims of child abuse. Later, there would be claims that he helped cover some claims of sexual abuse up. However, the national climate against the Catholic church and its sex abuse scandals began to radically change. The Catholic church had been rocked with scandal after scandal of credible abuse charges and allegations. Many people began to believe the victims and pushed for the Catholic church to do something with all the allegations. People began to speak up and wondered aloud why the church shuffled abusers from church to church instead of letting them go and/or looking to prosecute these men?
What was Mr. Cook’s evidence that he was sexually abused? He recalled these “vivid memories” retrieved from “repressed memory during hypnosis”. His corroborating evidence was a book signed by Bernardin, and a photo of them together. Apparently, his statement and his scant evidence was enough to suspect that Bernardin sexually abused Cook. Things didn’t look good for the Chicago cardinal, but Bernardin maintained his faith in the legal system and his innocence.
However, something happened a year into Cook’s accusations. Suddenly, the charges were dropped and Bernardin was exonerated. Stephen Cook came out and stated that he made a huge mistake based on a “faulty memory”. Cook was convinced that he was sexually abused, but he was confused about the identity of the actual perpetrator. However, he was firm in stating that the person was not the Cardinal.
Bernardin forgave his accuser and even the psychotherapist who “implanted memories” into Cook’s mind.
“I can assure you that all my life I have led a chaste, celibate life.” Bernardin stated. When he was confronted with Cook’s claims of evidence, he simply stated, “I don’t understand.” In the end, the Cardinal wasn’t concerned about himself, stating his innocence and his concern for his loved ones who had to endure these allegations as well.
There can be no doubt due to past and ongoing allegations against the Catholic Church at the time that many assumed that the Cardinal was guilty as sin.
Based on the climate of the day, many thought the Cardinal would spend a considerable amount of time behind bars due to the encapsulating scandals that rocked the Catholic Church at the time. However, the Cardinal was innocent as he always proclaimed and was ready to gamble his freedom with the American justice system.
During the 2005 allegations and trial against Michael Jackson, the media consistently beat the drums of Michael’s guilt. It was all but assured that he would probably spend the rest of his life in prison. There were media reports of individuals who were betting how long before Jackson “cracked”, talks of suicide watches, and morose family visits with Janet, Jermaine, and Katherine. What would happen to his children once he was locked away and if they were allowed to visit him? There was even one news producer from CBS News that trademarked “Jesus Juice” wine, something that his accuser Gavin Arvizo falsely stated Michael offered him. Forget about fair and balanced, this was flatly offensive to everyone, especially actual victims of child abuse.
The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels; it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.”
However, a strange dichotomy occurred with this 2005 trial. The reporters and journalists sat in the courtroom and watched the same trial the rest of us did. They saw the strange antics of the mother of the accuser, Janet Arvizo, snapping her fingers and talking about being kidnapped in hot air balloons. They watched as the ever vengeful and persistent District Attorney, Tom Sneddon, grow angry and red faced as his witnesses turned from pro-prosecution to help the defense. They saw there was very little evidence against Mr. Jackson, with some wondering how did a case like this ever make it to court? However, the truth was not to be reported. Night after night, the same reporters and journalists told us that it would be a matter of time before Jackson would be behind bars. When Jackson was rightfully acquitted, the media professed to be “shocked”, but they knew that the evidence against Jackson was flimsy and couldn’t stand up in court.
It was described by some as “the most shameful episode in journalistic history.” It was the most lopsided reporting on a case that we’d ever seen. It’s why so many were confused as to how a man, who was painted as guilty by the pro-prosecution media, was allowed to walk free on every single charge. There was one man who ensured that Michael would walk with his damning testimony. Wade Robson.
As with the previous cases, the media ran with stances that were unbelievably biased against the defense, hinting at guilty verdicts for all the defendants. This was done in the McMartin trial, a child sex abuse scandal involving day care workers and child abuse allegations. The children, who alleged incredible sex acts that took place in their day care, talked about flying around the room on their own volition. The media continued to report the salacious details of the case, but did little reporting on just how improbable the testimony was. What this shows is that when the public gets caught in a firestorm, the media follows along blindly.
Instead of being a check and balance on power, it just cashes checks while the balance is the bottom line.
In Michael’s case, this remains to be true.
Believe the victims.
When Wade Robson and James Safechuck were children, they steadfastly claimed that Michael never touched them in a way that was ever inappropriate. However, as adults, the stories began to change, and they committed perjury under oath. One man perjured himself twice, just so that he could get around the statute of limitations. This is the reason why the lawsuit against Jackson’s estate was thrown out of court.
The media continues this crusade of misinformation today. Recently with the Leaving Neverland documentary, the NYTimes and The Washington Post printed pieces that practically told the reader just exactly how you should feel after watching the documentary. It didn’t seem to disturb the American media that there was only one side being told. One journalist was so bold into saying that Michael Jackson “defended himself enough while he was alive”, therefore pushing the narrative that Jackson’s children, family, loved ones, and fans are no longer entitled to the truth. A truth, the media told us that they only they can tell. However, with the current political climate, it’s evident that the American public don’t feel that they can count on this same media to tell them the truth, regardless of political affiliation. Americans increasingly feel polarized and will get their information from sources that represent their beliefs. If you believe Jackson is guilty, then you’ll stay away from reports and details that clear him of wrong doing, or at least sources that raise serious questions about any allegations made.
Michael Jackson made a lot of money for himself and millions for others. However, he was still a human being. He had his day in court, with the finding of not guilty, but unfortunately, the court of public opinion is a never-ending trial. In the court of public opinion, there are few rules, everyone is a judge, juror, and executioner, and the defendant is forever guilty on the internet.
With the latest documentary airing on HBO, the director is asking to take you along on a ride through the life of the worlds’ biggest star and arguably the greatest entertainer of all time. The two young men, along with the director, took you through nearly an hour of how they met Jackson and what it was like with sleepovers, parties, and amusement parks. It seemed like a party every day for the children that Jackson let into his very private life, only trusting a few people, but being very generous with his home, his time, and often his bank account.
But then, the ominous music plays, and the party is over. This world of games, non-stop laughter, and fun has come to a screeching halt, like a song coming to an end. Now, we are to believe what was once innocent and childlike, was just an elaborate game to procure children for his sexual desires.
It’s disturbing to watch. You will squirm. You will look away. You will hold your children tight. You will beg them to always come to you if someone was audacious enough to approach your child inappropriately. It may even cause you to lose sleep as you are literally inundated with very graphic and detailed descriptions of how a predator traps its prey. However, there is a voice in the back of your mind, filled with doubt….
Could the King of Pop have really fooled us all into thinking he was one of the worlds most talented AND greatest criminal pedophiles of all time? That he was able to escape local and federal law enforcement, along with private detectives that even followed him around just clever enough to have never been prosecuted? That this documentary was able to find evidence that the police and the FBI were never able to locate? If true, would that make Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, would have been the greatest, smoothest criminal of all time? (no pun intended)
That’s when the wool is pulled away from your eyes. Or at least, it should be.
Wade Robson wants you to believe that the King of Pop, a man already under intense scrutiny by local law enforcement and the FBI, once fondled him with just a “thin blanket” covering them, with his mother in the same room. He wants you to believe that a man, with hundreds of millions of dollars to lose, the adoration of millions of fans all around the world, along with his freedom, would be so brazen and bold to abuse him with his mother present, and anyone able to walk in on them at any time. He is asking you to believe that Michael could control himself for the most part, this crazed “boy lover”, while losing complete control other times, to the point where he recklessly abused a child in sight of an adult?
I’m to believe a man, whose mother relentlessly pursued Michael to another continent to ensure her child would be a star, is telling the truth? Joy Robson claims that Michael’s companies are responsible for the abuse, but it was she that initiated contact with Michael, even lying about the first meeting being facilitated by Michael. It wasn’t. Target held the meeting. You may believe that is a small detail, but these things go to the veracity of what these people are claiming and to their credibility. The Robson’s know that they can’t sue Michael because he’s dead. So, the ever changing narrative needs to be that Michael’s companies were aware of the abuse and did nothing to stop it, even making allegations that they facilitated the abuse. This is so that he can get around the statute of limitations. Yes, you read that correctly. He had to change his narrative to fit the lawsuit so that it could go forward in court.
Wade Robson is the same man that perjured himself in court to a judge, stating that he didn’t know Michael had an estate, just to get past the statute of limitations. Especially after it was proven to be a lie. It is easily proven that Wade made arrangements with the same estate he was unaware of in 2011, before any allegations just so he could work on a Michael tribute show? The same estate that he claimed he didn’t know existed.
That guy? The same man that had to email his mother several times before the allegations to construct a timeline because he didn’t remember what happened? The emails that he didn’t want to show the court, and even tried to hide? The same person who would like us to believe that Norma Staikos, a personal assistant of Jackson, is more to blame for this alleged abuse than his own mother? The woman who knew her son was sleeping in the room with Jackson and immigrated to the U.S. on her own, because she felt that her son “went as far as he could go in Australia”? Did anyone in the media ever ask Wade Robson that in 2005 when he testified against the accuser Gavin Arvizo, why it’s taken years for him to offer an apology to the child who he denied justice when he testified in Michael’s defense?
However, because the figure is Michael Jackson, an extremely sheltered man, with many eccentricities, the media buys it, hook, line, and sinker. No questions asked. Questions weren’t necessary to begin with.
Believe the victims.
Children that claim child sexual abuse should be believed. However, we know that children are often used so that adults can get something they want. False allegations happen so frequently in divorce proceedings, that there is a name for this kind of phenomenon. However, those who make up sexual abuse do nothing but victimize actual victims repeatedly. To claim that somehow, you’re helping victims of sexual abuse, but then make up allegations that something happened to you, does a disservice to those who were actually abused. It needlessly lessens the credibility of all child sex abuse survivors, making some people less inclined to believe them.
People who lie about sexual assault get to ride and hide behind “#MeToo,” and “believe the victims” so that they escape having to answer for all the contradictions in their statements.
We rightfully get to question the motives, attitudes, and actions of the abusers and accused, but in today’s atmosphere, we aren’t ever allowed to ever question the veracity of the victims. Even the appearance of trying to be fair will bring the wrath of those who believe all victims fall into the same category. The pendulum has swung the other way, from never believing victims and questioning their motive, to never questioning the motive of every victim and allowing them to tell their stories. If Stephon Clark were making his allegations today against the Catholic Church, there would be few that would believe the Cardinal, despite his fervent claims of innocence. Because the Catholic Church had been accused, rightfully so, of shuffling predators around from church to church, why would Mr. Clark’s claims be any different?
But Mr. Clark’s claims were complete lies. Most people today would have easily bought his claims. The Cardinal would have had to resign before the sun went down and he would have been vilified to the end of time. Now that we know Mr. Clark wasn’t telling the truth, what would people have said about the Cardinal? I’m sorry we went too far? Or would the media have just ignored it and went on to the next story? Perhaps, maybe even taking the next claims brought before the media not too seriously. Therefore, actual abuse victims are victimized by liars over and over again.
Believe the victims.
Where does this leave us? Believe all victims that come forward and make claims, just because they are victims? In Michael’s case, these aren’t children coming forward and making claims. These are grown men telling us a story of abuse from their childhood. Where do we draw the line?
We’ve shown that our political ideologies will get in the way when it’s our party that we want to support or deny. We ignore the Christine Blasey Fords’ of the world because we want Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, but do we listen to Al Franken’s accusers? We tell Justin Fairfax that he must step down as Lieutenant Governor, but we ignore the biggest, admitted sexual abuser in the White House. Democrats don’t want to talk about Clinton’s accusers because they are pointing fingers at Trump’s. Republicans point at Clinton and other Democrats but ignore their own who have abused women and children alike. The people we like, we’ll make excuses for. The people we don’t, we make them step down and never show their faces again. How does this treatment belong in a so-called democratic society? Are we going to pretend that everyone that comes forward is a victim and everyone that denies an allegation is a victimizer? There must be a better way of dealing with this.
Michael endured more scrutiny than any other child abuser, pedophile, and other monsters in our society. Not only was he subjected to the criminal justice system, there was a ten-year FBI investigation into him. Investigations done by local and federal law enforcement that turned up absolutely nothing. If there was justice that needed to be done, surely Michael Jackson endured the brunt of it. He came out on the other side, reputation tarnished, but certainly not guilty of the crimes that they claimed he committed.
To believe these accusers, you must believe that during the 1993 investigation into Michael, he was actively molesting children as if he wasn’t fighting for his career at the same time. It is a stretch of the imagination, but because Michael was considered “weird”, “strange”, and “not like the rest of us”, it seems as though the media and his detractors are willing to believe any nonsense against him. Why not? People believed that he bought the Elephant man’s bones, had a shrine to Elizabeth Taylor, and slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.
It’s absurd. It buys into many racist theories of black men that somehow, they are just “different” than the rest of us. They deserve to live under scrutiny and nothing they say is to be believed. Those that are groaning and shaking their heads at yet another “delusional supporter” of Michael’s cult , but these same people won’t answer to at least why they haven’t even bothered to look into the accusers and the accusations that they’ve levied against the world’s most talented and scrutinized pop star. They don’t have answers to why the small number of accusers always seemed to get lost on the way to a police station when making allegations against Michael just to find their way to an attorney. They don’t have answers to why Wade’s and Jimmy’s lawsuits have been amended several times, each changing the claims against Mr. Jackson, and why one discovered he was abused after watching a man, who perjured himself, just to get around the statute of limitations, started making claims that he was abused as well. They don’t have answers as to why Wade Robson hid the fact that he had a girlfriend during the time he claims Jackson told him to stay away from girls. A girlfriend that currently and vociferously refutes many of the statements that Wade has made.
The public need to only ask the question as “Why?” If the sex abuse is real, why omit so much relevant information. What are you trying to hide? Yet, no media outlet at the time of this writing has allowed her to come on the air, including Good Morning America, who scheduled her, decided against it at the last moment and cancelled her appearance.
Just as we didn’t see the truth during the 2005 trial against Michael, where he walked out of court a free man, ask yourself why are the real facts being omitted just to sell a narrative? If you begin to ask yourself these questions, a different picture emerges. Not a conspiracy as some of the wildest Jackson fans would like to perpetuate, but a story that fits a narrative.
If Michael was a great human being, humanitarian, entertainer, a great talent to the world, and innocent, there is nothing to be gleaned from that. If Michael was a sick pedophile and the greatest criminal mind that ever lived, then the media can gain a lot from that. Two-hour long specials, featuring the same people who crumbled and were shown to be liars in court, no new information as Piers Morgan repeatedly points out, and books, movie deals, articles, etc. It’s like trying to draw blood from a stone if Jackson is innocent. However, if Jackson is guilty, that stone becomes a dam bursting forth. That dam bursting to the sound of $1.6 billion dollars in the pockets of Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck.
They both get to tell the gruesome stories of a man that is in the ground, while they hide behind the #MeToo and #Timesup movements. If someone does the work and asks the hard questions, their stories will crumble like a house built with a pack of cards. Until then, they are “victims” and the media will continue to buy it.
However, you should know that dam is built on shaky ground. When the other side gets to tell the truth, the already evident cracks will begin to crumble, but it won’t be water showering you from the dam that they built….