Category Archives: AEG Trial

The Slap Heard 'Round The World

randy-phillips-and-mjLately, the sounds coming from the pro-AEG camps have sounded more and more like crickets chirping. And small wonder. Really, how can anyone continue to defend these guys in the wake of everything this trial has-and continues-to bring out?

What’s interesting is that I have witnessed a slow turnaround in the media’s coverage of this trial as well. Although I do agree with fellow MJ advocate Helena of Vindicating Michael that we continue to get bombarded with a lot of smokescreens in order to distract us, nevertheless, I think that a few short weeks ago, most pundits (including myself, frankly) felt this was an unwinnable case. For myself, it wasn’t that I was on AEG’s side. Far from it. I just felt that AEG might be too big-make that, too intimidating-of a Goliath to take on, one that would only result in more harm than good as we witnessed another round of media mud slinging. I said many weeks ago that, whether Katherine wins or loses the case, ultimately, Michael loses.

But I also said I would keep an open mind as the trial progressed. I have done just that. And in so doing, I’ve come to realize why this trial needed to happen. As someone else has said, it was high time for the evil that surrounded Michael to be exposed.

The funny thing is that a lot of what we’re hearing isn’t exactly news. Some of it we have known-or at least suspected-for a long time. A lot of it was circulated in the weeks and months after Michael died. Recently, I revisited a video that was posted shortly after Michael died, during the time that This Is It was being promoted. Looking back on this video now, it gives me chills to realize just how accurately a lot of what this “insider” said has panned out.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDaTZUDbSyQ[/tube]

I still remember how sharply the feud between the “This Is Not It” camp and those fans, like myself, who were supporting the film and wanting it to succeed, divided the fan community. It was, to my knowledge, the first major division in the fan community (though it would hardly be the last). It was hard in those days to know what to believe. We had peeps like Karen Faye and this insider telling us one story; we had Kenny Ortega and Randy Phillips on TV telling us quite another. Then came the film itself, and we saw Michael (albeit looking very thin) seemingly on top of his game-rehearsing, dancing, joking, and perfectly in charge. It seemed easy then to believe what we so much wanted to believe, and to dismiss the This Is Not It fanatics as a maverick group of troublemakers

Ultimately, it came down to which version-and perhaps which myth-of Michael we wanted to believe, and hang onto for posterity. Did we want to believe he went out in a proverbial blaze of glory, doing what he loved best? Or do we believe that here was a vulnerable and ill man, whose back was forced by circumstance against a wall, who spent his last months bullied, full of anxiety, and being worked to the point of exhaustion by people who did not respect him and only saw him as a cash cow? A cow who could only deliver if kicked hard enough, at that.

As Fans, I Think A Lot Of Us Are Torn Between The Desire To Believe The Romantic Picture TII Painted For Us...And The Reality Of What Has Been Coming Out Of This Trial.
As Fans, I Think A Lot Of Us Are Torn Between The Desire To Believe The Romantic Picture TII Painted For Us…And The Reality Of What Has Been Coming Out Of This Trial.

There is still a part of me that wants to believe in the “he went out in a blaze of glory” myth. It’s not altogether a lie, for we saw many flashes of brilliance in his last performances-and as we know, the movie brilliantly captured those moments. But we also have to admit, that was one helluva an editing job. So basically, we have a two hour film comprised of about two nights’ worth of really great rehearsals, and a lot of filler.

I still see the greatness in Michael in those rehearsals. But I can no longer shut my eyes and ears to the truth of what I know, now, that his last months and weeks were like.

Even more of the ugliness came to light during the Murray trial.

Yes, a lot of this has been known, or at least suspected, for a long time.  But there’s something about actually having all of Gongaware’s and Philip’s lies, inconsistencies, and displays of arrogant, callous bullying actually put on public display, transcribed, and put forth in black and white testimony, that has really hit home. It has hit home for me, at least, and I think for many others, as well. When I last did a full, in-depth write-up on the AEG trial, Shawn Trell’s testimony had produced a bombshell with the revelation of email exchanges between Trell and Ted Fickre, where they referred to Michael as a “freak.” That was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, however. Since then, the testimonies of Paul Gongaware and Randy Phillips have produced what any reasonable person can only conclude as a harrowing picture of what Michael Jackson’s last few months must have been like.

The cumulative effect of Gongaware’s and Phillip’s testimonies has produced an interesting turnaround in the media. I wouldn’t exactly call it pro-MJ. But I think the simple fact that the apparent lies, inconsistencies, and cover-ups of their testimonies have cast a new light on the perception of this trial is at least a kind of progress. It denotes a subtle shift from the perspective of Michael Jackson as the drug-addled junkie who was solely responsible for his own tragic demise, his family as merely the greedy, bloodsucking leeches, and AEG as the all-powerful and all innocent company who, gosh darn it, just wanted to give this “junkie” and ‘loser” the  opportunity of a lifetime to make a dazzling comeback.

It is not nearly enough. But I think, for what it is, it is a subtle shifting of the media narrative. Journalists who, just a few short weeks ago, were scoffing at this trial aren’t snickering quite so loudly anymore. (Okay, maybe I have to eat some humble pie here and admit Panish has done better than my initial impressions). Consider these recent headlines:

Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Trial: Could AEG Actually Lose? 

http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2013/06/michael-jackson-wrongful-death-trial-could-aeg-actually-lose/

(And an interesting paragraph excerpted from the above article):

Experts believed AEG would and could make the case that they felt Jackson being properly cared for by Murray, who MJ is said to have hand-picked.

In other words, the explanation that Jackson knew what he was getting into and AEG can’t be held responsible for his recklessness seemed airtight). 

Or this one:

Music industry expert says Michael Jackson promoters were ‘highly inappropriate’

http://www.legendarymichaeljackson.nl/news/music-industry-expert-says-michael-jackson-promoters-were-highly-inappropriate/#.UcX_bzucf5t

Even TMZ has now joined the ranks of those voicing a turnaround, with Harvey Levin admitting the other day that he is one of those no longer scoffing at this case. (I still won’t link to them, though, but it was on TMZ Live; you can google it if you care to know what he said).

But all of that has been a rather long pretext to what I really wanted to discuss in this post, which is the events leading up to the March 2009 press conference announcing the London 02 shows, and Randy Phillips’s startling admission that he slapped Michael.

Helena has already written a great post on this topic, and if you haven’t seen it, please check it out.

http://vindicatemj.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/aeg-jacksons-trial-day-24-randy-phillips-and-their-business-with-michael-jackson-as-a-slap-in-his-face/

I just wanted to add a few thoughts of my own to this, as well as taking a fresh look at the London 02 announcement in light of what we now know took place that day.

I love Michael, but I’ve never been able to muster a positive vibe about that press conference. Everything about it seemed “off” to me, from Michael’s mannerisms to the rambling redundancy and even vacuousness of the speech (however, we also now know that there is a very good and plausible explanation for this, which I will get to shortly). The entire speech could best be summed up by two phrases repeated enough times to fill approximately four minutes: “I love you” and “This is it.”

Michael's 02 Press Conference, I Am Convinced Now, Was A Statement of Anger And Defiance
Michael’s 02 Press Conference, I Am Convinced Now, Was A Statement of Anger And Defiance

But something about his entire demeanor that day seemed forced, awkward, and out of sync with his usual manner of public speaking-and especially his usual manner of addressing his fans. And yes, I believe it was him (I know all about the body double rumors, but I don’t buy them). Maybe I should clarify that to say, I believe this was certainly him in body. But in spirit? That’s a different matter. However, in light of what I now know, I believe his demeanor had more to do with anger and defiance than a simple case of poor preparation or nerves.  And I have been quietly observing, and studying, this press conference for some time to arrive at my present conclusions.

Michael was clearly not in a good place that day, and I doubt it had anything to do with substance abuse of any kind. There is a certain petulance and defiance in his words and mannerisms; a quiet anger just barely given vent. But it is undeniably there. I have spent countless hours watching Michael’s videos in many, many situations, observing his body language and getting a feel for his base line mannerisms. I may not can tell you whether he is lying or being truthful, but I can certainly tell when he was happy, relaxed, sad, angry, or tense. And I can tell you that what we had on March 5th, 2009-aside from a couple of very brief flashes where he was genuinely moved by the response from the crowd-was an angry and defiant Michael, chomping at the bit. But why?

Well, let’s ask anyone how they might feel if, just minutes before an important press conference, they had been manhandled, roughed about, and slapped in the face. How might you feel if you suddenly stepped into that spotlight realizing you have just become a slave in essentially what you thought was a business partnership? But you still have to go out there, and put on your best face for your fans, who, after all, have been waiting over two hours to see you?

Although I called this “the slap heard ’round the world” all it takes is a bit of googling to see a huge disparity in the way this was reported by the mainstream press vs. MJ websites. Since the phrases that pop up in Google and Bing searches are directly indicative of the headline key phrases, it’s interesting to note that almost all pro-MJ websites use the phrase “Randy Phillips Slapped Michael Jackson” while mainstream media outlets were going with the less dramatic (but, ultimately, more evasive) “Promoter Slapped Drunk and Despondent Michael Jackson.”

It doesn’t take much brain power to figure out the strategy behind this. By including the mention that Michael was “drunk” or ‘despondent” (or both) it shifts blame away from Phillips, and squarely onto Michael. Readers might well ask: Did Jackson deserve to be slapped about?

Granted, this all goes back to something very interesting I learned in basic journalism. The same story can be slanted many ways, depending on the phrases that are used and the words that are emphasized. It might look to an untrained eye that the mainstream media is taking the more sensible, balanced, middle of the road approach, while the MJ sites are playing up the sensationalism angle-oh my god, Michael was slapped by the concert promoter! How awful!

You get the idea. There are almost always mitigating circumstances, even for the worst deeds. But in the end, the question we really have to ask is: Do those mitigating circumstances excuse the behavior?

Slanting Is A Common Media Practice. Guess What...I'm Doing It Right Here, By Purposely Selecting An Image Of Michael That Looks Vulnerable. But The Bigger Question Is, Should Physical Violence Against Someone EVER Be Condoned, Under Amy Circumstances?
Slanting Is A Common Media Practice. Guess What…I’m Doing It Right Here, By Purposely Selecting An Image Of Michael That Looks Vulnerable. But The Bigger Question Is, Should Physical Violence Against Someone EVER Be Condoned, Under Amy Circumstances?

Think of it this way. Does any wife “deserve” to be slapped around by her husband? Does any human being ever deserve to be physically abused or manhandled? We live in a supposedly enlightened society where physical abuse is supposedly no longer condoned-under any circumstances. Women are encouraged to not accept physical abuse of any kind from their spouses, nor excuses for it. Teachers are no longer allowed to use corporal punishment in schools. A slap on the behind in the work place is grounds for a sexual harassment suit. The subject of police brutality is so sensitive today that a person could make a case for simply being pushed too hard by an officer. Even parents who spank their children are prone to scrutiny and societal disapproval; people will say they are abusing their children.

So where does it become acceptable for an upset concert promoter to slap his star, no matter how “despondent?”

The simple truth is that there is never any excuse for physical violence against another human being.

But let’s look at how at least a couple of media outlets covered this story, and testimony. I have emphasized key passages.

The New York Post was, at first, the only media outlet reporting the incident. Richard Johnson’s account was published June 5th, 2012:

Concert exec says Michael Jackson was ‘drunk and despondent’ when final tour was announced

  • By RICHARD JOHNSON
  • Last Updated: 5:40 AM, June 6, 2013
  • Posted: 10:49 PM, June 5, 2013

LOS ANGELES — The top executive in charge of Michael Jackson’s final doomed concert tour testified today he had to slap the “drunk and despondent” star on the day those gigs were announced.

AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips also called Jackson “a self-loathing emotionally paralyzed mess,” in a March 5, 2009, to his then-boss at parent company AEG, Tim Leiweke.

Phillips told jurors today he was “exaggerating” in those e-mails, and hopes to make them go away in this civil lawsuit being pushed by Jackson’s family. Phillips doesn’t want jurors to believe he and other AEG officials knew how sick he was before The King of Pop died on June 25, 2009.

<br /><br /><br /><br />

AP
AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips testified in court that Michael Jackson was “drunk and despondent” and he had to slap him on the day his final tour was announced.

“MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent,” Phillips wrote on March 5, when Jackson showed up two hours late for his press conference at London’s O2 Arena. “(Jackson’s manager) Tohme and I are trying to sober him up and get him to the press conference with his hair-dressing/make-up artist.”

Leiweke replied: “Are you kidding me?”

Philips wrote back: “I screamed at him so loud the walls were shaking. Tohme and I have dressed him and they are finishing his hair and then we are rushing to the O2. This is the scariest thing I have seen. He is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self-loathing and doubt now that it is show time. He is scared to death. Right now I just want to get through the press conference.”

At his deposition six months ago, before he was shown his e-mails, Phillips denied that Jackson was either drunk or despondent on the day of the president conference, and denied yelling at The Gloved One, saying he merely “raised his voice.”

Phillips says he was telling the truth in his deposition, and was not accurate in his email. “I was relaying what Dr. Tohme told me… I wrote it as fast as I could write it.”

Panish said, “You have to yell pretty loud to make the walls shake. Do you have a tendency to exaggerate?”

Phillips said, “No.”

To another business associate, Phillips wrote: “I haven’t pulled it off yet. We still have to get his nose on properly. You have no idea what this is like. He is a self-loathing emotionally paralyzed mess... I just slapped him.”

Phillips admitted, “I slapped him on the butt.”

The article doesn’t really clarify at the end that it was only in his testimony that Phillips back pedaled and tried to claim that it was actually a slap “on the butt.” But here I will echo what Helena has already stated so well: I don’t buy it. Phillips admitted he was screaming loud enough to “shake the walls” so the idea of him following this up with the equivalent of football coach giving an affectionate pat on the behind just doesn’t add up. Secondly, even if it was a slap on the butt, the idea of anyone slapping a 50-year-old man on the butt is absurd.

Interestingly enough, it was a full five days later when Alan Duke’s write-up appeared on CNN:

Promoter: I slapped ‘despondent’ Michael Jackson

By Alan Duke, CNN

updated 4:46 PM EDT, Mon June 10, 2013

Los Angeles (CNN) — AEG Live’s CEO said he “slapped” and “screamed” at Michael Jackson because the promoter was “nerve-racked” before the public announcement of Jackson’s comeback concerts.

Randy Phillips, testifying in the Jackson wrongful death trial, recounted that it was “a miracle” that a “drunk and despondent” Jackson finally appeared at the London event.

Phillips, who faced a fourth day of questioning Monday, described “a highly charged situation” after the show director, production manager and Jackson’s doctor observed that the singer was declining just five days before Jackson’s death.

Michael Jackson’s mother and children accuse concert promoter AEG Live of liability in Jackson’s drug overdose death, claiming the agency negligently hired, retained or supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Phillips and other AEG Live executives ignored “red flags” that should have alerted them that Jackson’s health was at risk as they pressured him and his doctor to stop missing rehearsals as the “This Is It” tour premiere approached in the summer of 2009, Jackson lawyers argue.

AEG exec confronted at Jackson trial

Phillips feared MJ would sabotage his comeback tour

Jackson, not AEG Live, chose and controlled Murray, company lawyers argue. Although they negotiated a contract to pay Murray $150,000 a month to attend to Jackson, it was never fully executed because Jackson died before they signed, they contend.

AEG executives — including Co-CEO Paul Gongaware, who had managed Jackson’s last two tours — had no way of knowing that Jackson was abusing drugs, especially the surgical anesthetic propofol, which the coroner ruled played the largest role in his death, AEG Live lawyers argue.

Murray told investigators he was infusing propofol into Jackson nearly every night to treat his insomnia so Jackson would be rested for rehearsals.

Director worried Jackson didn’t get “enough sleep”

Phillips acknowledged for the first time Monday that he was aware of concerns that Jackson was not getting enough sleep when he and show director Kenny Ortega met with Murray and Michael Jackson on June 20, 2009.

The meeting in Jackson’s living room was called after Ortega sent Jackson home from a rehearsal because he was to ill to perform.

Ortega raised his concerns at the meeting, Phillips said in a video of his deposition played for jurors Monday. “He said he was concerned Michael wasn’t focused, wasn’t taking it seriously enough. He was concerned whether he was getting enough food, enough sleep, things like that.”

After the meeting, Phillips wrote to other AEG executives, “We have a real problem here.”

“But I didn’t know what the problem was,” he testified Monday.

Murray “pretty much assured us that Michael Jackson was fine,” Phillips said.

It was agreed at the meeting that Murray would be responsible for getting Jackson to rehearsals, he said.

“You didn’t have any idea of Dr. Murray’s qualifications to address Kenny Ortega’s concerns?” Jackson lawyer Brian Panish asked Phillips.

“Other than being Michael Jackson’s physician, no,” he said.

MJ’s “decline”

When Phillips spoke to Murray for 25 minutes the morning of June 20, 2009, the doctor told him that Jackson was “physically equipped to perform” at rehearsals, but “if we stop the production, it would hasten the decline,” Phillips testified.

Production manager John “Bugzee” Houghdahl sent an e-mail days earlier saying that he was alarmed by Jackson’s “deterioration.”

“I don’t believe Dr. Murray put it exactly that way,” Phillips testified.

“Please stay steady,” Phillips wrote to Ortega about the show director’s concerns. “Enough alarms have sounded. It is time to put out the fire, not burn the building down.” By “burning down the building,” he meant pulling the plug on the tour that was set to begin in three weeks, Phillips said Monday.

“In a highly charged situation like this, I just wanted to keep things calm until we could have the meeting,” Phillips testified.

Doctor frequented strip club before Jackson’s death

The judge wouldn’t let jurors hear that Phillips sent an e-mail after Jackson’s death to the head of Sony Pictures saying that Murray had spent time in a strip club in the days before Jackson died. Instead, Panish described it as visits to a “social establishment.” Laughter from the jury box suggested the jurors understood what that meant.

“Did you learn that Dr. Murray wasn’t at the house caring for Michael Jackson?” Panish asked.

“After his death, I learned,” Phillips answered.

Promoter: Learned MJ went to rehab just now”

Jackson made a highly publicized announcement in 1993 that he was ending his “Dangerous” tour early to enter a substance abuse rehab program because of an addiction to painkillers.

“I don’t remember hearing it,” Phillips testified.

“When’s the first time you heard?” Panish asked.

“Just now,” Phillips responded.

Phillips said he didn’t learned about it from a December 2008 news story focusing on Jackson’s drug abuse and rehab, even though he sent it in an e-mail to Jackson’s manager saying: “Have you read these stories? This reporter did a lot of research.”

“I don’t remember reading it,” Phillips testified.

“Slapped him and screamed at him”

Phillips began worrying about Jackson backing out of the concert tour just a month after he signed the contract with AEG Live to promote and produce it and more than a week before the announcement.

“I was worried that we would have a mess, his career would be over,” Phillips testified. “There were a lot of things I was worried about.”

But instead of pulling the plug then, before millions of dollars were spent, AEG Live chose to force Jackson to continue.

“Once we go on sale, which we have the right to do, he is locked,” Gongaware wrote to Phillips.

Jackson, his children and manager Tohme Tohme boarded a private jet for the London announcement, but he was not ready when Phillips went to his hotel suite to escort him to the O2 Arena.

“MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent. Tohme and I are trying to sober him up and get him to the press conference with his hair/makeup artist,” Phillips told parent-company AEG CEO Tim Leiweke in an e-mail.

Phillips testified it was “a very tense situation” and “frankly, I created the tension in that room. Because I was so nerve-racked, OK, the time slipping away, and his career slipping away.”

AEG was hosting thousands of Jackson fans and hundreds of journalists for the anticipated announcement, which would be seen live around the world.

“I screamed at him so loud the walls were shaking,” Phillips wrote to Leiweke. “Tohme and I have dressed him, and they are finishing his hair, and then we are rushing to the O2. This is the scariest thing I have ever seen. He’s an emotionally paralyzed mess, filled with self-loathing and doubt now that it is show time. He is scared to death. Right now I just want to get through this press conference.”

Phillips e-mailed a man who was waited outside the hotel with a convoy of vehicles that he put Jackson in a cold shower and “just slapped him and screamed at him.”

In court, Phillips downplayed his words as “an exaggeration.”

“I slapped him on the butt,” he testified, comparing it to what a football coach would do to a player.

Jackson arrived at the 02 more than two hours late to announce: “This is it. This is really it. This is the final curtain call. OK, I’ll see you in July.”

“An intervention”

“Now I have to get him on the stage. Scary!” Phillips wrote in an e-mail to another promoter.

Jackson lawyers contend this fear led AEG Live executives to take control of Jackson’s life as he prepared in Los Angeles to premiere the tour in London July 2009.

Show producers sent warnings in mid-June that Jackson’s health appeared to be failing.

Associate producer Alif Sankey testified earlier in the trial that she “had a very strong feeling that Michael was dying” because of his frail health.

She called show director Kenny Ortega after one rehearsal. “I kept saying that ‘Michael is dying, he’s dying, he’s leaving us, he needs to be put in a hospital,'” Sankey said. “‘Please do something. Please, please.’ I kept saying that. I asked him why no one had seen what I had seen. He said he didn’t know.”

After Jackson failed to show up at several rehearsals in June — or was unable to perform sometimes when he did appear — Gongaware sent an e-mail to Phillips that Jackson lawyers call their “smoking gun.”

They argue the message shows the executives used Murray’s fear of losing his lucrative job as Jackson’s personal physician to pressure him to have Jackson ready for rehearsals despite his fragile health. “We want to remind (Murray) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary. We want to remind him what is expected of him,” Gongaware wrote.

Gongaware testified earlier that he did not remember writing the e-mail and Phillips testified last week that he didn’t remember reading it.

However, Phillips convened what he called “an intervention” at Jackson’s home with Murray, Jackson and Ortega present.

A Los Angeles police detective summarized what Phillips told investigators about that meeting: “Randy (Phillips) stated that Kenny (Ortega) got in Michael’s face, at which time Dr. Murray admonished Randy, stating, ‘You’re not a doctor. Butt out.”

Asked about it in court, Phillips said the detective’s summary is wrong. “That’s not what I said,” Phillips testified. “I told them something completely different than this. They just conflated the people and the things.”

What actually happened was Murray “got into and admonished Kenny Ortega not to be an amateur physician and analyze Michael,” Phillips said.

Phillips sent an e-mail after the meeting saying he had confidence in Murray, “who I am gaining immense respect for as I get to deal with him more.”

“This doctor is extremely successful (we check everyone out) and does not need this gig, so he (is) totally unbiased and ethical,” Phillips’ e-mail said.

He conceded in court that no background check of Murray was conducted by AEG Live. Jackson lawyers argue that had it been done, they would have discovered Murray was in deep debt and dependent on the lucrative job.

Phillips contradicted Gongaware’s earlier testimony that Jackson was under no contractual obligation to attend rehearsals. Phillips refused to advance money to help Jackson pay his staff days before his death because he believed the singer was “in an anticipatory breach” of his contract because he had missed rehearsals, he testified.

Key witnesses meet during trial

Phillips acknowledged that he and his lawyer met with Jackson’s former manager Tohme — another key witness in the trial — last month. The meeting happened in the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel on May 4, at the end of the first week of testimony.

“I don’t remember if it was the testimony in this case or what the lunch was about, but Marvin Putnam (AEG’s lead lawyer in the trial) was at the lunch with me,” Phillips said when asked about it by Panish.

He couldn’t remember “100%” but they may have discussed Tohme’s legal battle to get paid by Jackson’s estate, he said.

“I don’t remember what I ate that day,” Phillips said.

“I didn’t ask you what you ate,” Panish replied. “I asked you what you talked about.”

Judge: Beware being evasive

Panish’s feisty exchanges with Phillips — a successful music industry executive who dropped out of law school — has forced Los Angeles County Judge Yvette Palazuelos to intervene.

“I can’t jail somebody for not answering a question,” Palazuelos said when Panish complained Phillips was being evasive. “There’s only so much I can do.”

She warned Phillips that jurors would see it for themselves.

“You give an answer, and you’re not answering the question, the jury is going to get the impression that you’re being evasive.”

“I realize that,” Phillips said.

When I first read these reports, I envisioned something very much like this scene from A Streetcar Named Desire (0:18-0:20) where a drunken Stanley is given the same “sobriety treatment” by his friends:

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4ukWEZ7ebw[/tube]

The mainstream media reports, in other words, succeed in painting a picture of a frantic Phillips doing, perhaps, what needed to be done in order to get this guy to his scheduled press conference on time. Even if we don’t agree with the methods used, we might be prone to sympathize with a man in that situation-and whatever tactics had to be done to get an erratic star to his scheduled gig, before all is lost.

But there are some important details-in fact, several-which the mainstream media is failing to report. Reading the transcripts is the only way to assess the full story, along with all of its holes and inconsistencies.

In the transcripts, Panish asked Phillips about the email to Tim Lewike, CEO of AEG. In that email, Phillips stated that “I just slapped him and screamed at him louder than I did with Arthur Cassell.”

http://teammichaeljackson.com/archives/8709

When asked the identity of Arthur Cassell, Phillips responded that he is “one of the most annoying human beings on the face of the earth.”

I think any reasonable person can deduce from this context that what he gave to Michael was no nice, motivational slap on the behind.

And there are also conflicting testimonies as to Michael’s actual condition. Was he truly drunk and despondent? I think it’s certainly reasonable to assume that he may have been paralyzed with fear. He didn’t know how he would be received. It can’t be stressed enough that this was his first public announcement of any kind since the 2005 trial and  the resultant lynch mob mentality against him that had resulted, at least in the USA and UK. Michael’s method of dealing with stressful or anxiety-producing situations was avoidance and procrastination. It’s feasible that he may have been dragging his heels a bit; he may well have had a few drinks. But the story that he was drunk-and, in fact, drunk enough to require a mass effort of physical manhandling in order to sober him-has been contradicted by at least three sources. Tohme Tohme and his attorney Dennis Hawk called the claims “an exaggeration” when interviewed by Randy Sullivan for his book. Paul Gongaware contradicted the claims in his testimony:

Q  Did Randy ever tell you that Michael was drunk and despondent before that press conference?
A   No, not drunk and despondent.
Q  Did he say something else?
A  He just said he was having a hard time getting — getting him going.
Q  And did he explain that further?
A  No.
Q  Did you have an understanding of what he meant?
A  I — no. I was just too busy at the press conference.

Q. Describe a little bit the scene. Was there any press?

A. Not in the area backstage. He walked into that area and he saw me and he came up to me and he gave me a big hug. And he whispered in my ear, he said, “make sure the teleprompter has big words. I don’t have my glasses.”

Q. OK. Were there Teleprompters to assist him?

A. Yes.

Q. All right. And what big words for what? What did he need words for?

A. On the Teleprompters.

Q. OK. How did he seem to you?

A. He was good.

Q. Did you say anything back?

A. I said OK.

Q. OK. Who did he arrive with?

A. He came with Dr. Tohme, Randy, some security. I don’t remember who else was with him.

Q. So after he gave you that hug and told you he’d forgot his glasses, what happened next?

A. Then I said, “are you ready?” he went, “yeah, let’s go.” and then we had like an emcee, I guess you’d call it, that went up and sort of announced  you know, made the announcement, “here’s Michael Jackson.”

Q. Now, when he came in and hugged you and spoke to you, did he seem inebriated in any way to you?

A. No.

Q. Did he seem drunk?

A. No.

Q. Did he smell of alcohol?

A. No.

Q. Did he seem altered in any way?

A. No.

Perhaps most damaging of all, Randy Phillips in his own deposition. contradicted his own, earlier story:

Q. Was Mr. Jackson drunk? 

A. No. Not to the best of my knowledge, no.

Q. Ok. Was he despondent? 

A. No. 

Q. Now, sir, you testified there that Mr. Jackson was not drunk and he was not despondent, correct?

A. There? Yes.

Of course, the problem with these guys is that they have all lied and contradicted themselves so many times that it’s hard to know what to believe. In an apparent effort at damage control, Phillips tried to spin his emails as himself simply being a “drama queen.”

Michael Jackson looked ‘hung over’ but wasn’t ‘drug-addled’ before announcing comeback tour, says AEG CEO

BY / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

UPDATED: THURSDAY, JUNE 13, 2013, 8:39 AM

Michael Jackson looked more “hung over” than drunk before the 2009 London announcement of his comeback tour and wasn’t some “drug-addled 5-year-old,” the top exec for AEG Live testified Wednesday.

Randy Phillips said he was being a “drama queen” when he sent secret emails to colleagues claiming he had to “scream” at the King of Pop and personally dress him in his black satin neo-military garb for the much-anticipated March 2009 press conference.

“MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent,” Phillips wrote in one email. “He is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self-loathing and doubt.”

Under questioning by his lawyer, the CEO of AEG Live said he wrote the email before seeing Jackson with his own two eyes, basing it on information from Jackson’s manager that he “got a little drunk” and was acting depressed.

“I knew I was going to go into his room and I wouldn’t be able to write emails (once inside),” he said. “I figured I owed my immediate report an idea of what was happening.”

He said when he finally entered Jackson’s suite at the Lanesborough Hotel, he found the superstar sitting in a robe on a couch with a clear bottle of what looked like vodka or gin on the floor.

“To me he looked hung over,” Phillips said. “I talked to him. I said, ‘Michael, you okay?’ Randy Phillips said. “That’s when he said to me he was really concerned there was not going to be anyone there and. . . people didn’t care anymore.” Phillips said he assured the singer thousands of fans already had assembled. He said he helped the pop icon pick from three shirts to put on over his white v-neck undershirt.

In the van riding over to the event, Jackson told Phillips he looked thinner and laughed when Phillips attributed his physique to the frantic pacing he’d done outside Jackson’s room, Phillips told jurors.

As he walked up to the podium, Jackson grew taller and taller, like the “chart of homo sapien” evolution, Phillips recalled.

“He started a little hunched over, got up, got up, and when he went through that curtain, that was Michael Jackson,” Phillips recalled.

The testimony came during the seventh week of a wrongful death trial pitting Jackson’s mom and kids against the concert giant.

Katherine Jackson claims the company negligently hired the doctor who overdosed her son. Her lawyer said during his opening statement that Michael’s “despondent” behavior before the London press conference should have been a red flag.

AEG has denied any wrongdoing, saying it was Michael who hired Dr. Conrad Murray and secretly sought out a powerful anesthetic to treat his chronic insomnia.

“We seem to be talking about Michael like he’s the 5-year-old singer of the Jackson 5,” Phillips said on the stand Wednesday, referring to prior testimony from other witnesses. “He was a sophisticated, articulate 50-year-old man who had control of his life….he’s being presented as a drug-addled 5 year old, and that’s not the man I dealt with. The man I dealt with was forceful, kind, but determined.”

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/jacko-hung-article-1.1371298

Michael Jackson And Randy Phillips-A Relationship Full Of Contradictions, And Conflicting Stories
Michael Jackson And Randy Phillips-A Relationship Full Of Contradictions, And Conflicting Stories

When Randy Phillips stated that the Michael he knew was “a sophisticated, articulate 50-year-old man who had control of his life” and not “a drug-addled 5 year old,” the quote was passed around by many fans as a kind of affirmation of the folly of this trial. The danger in this propaganda, however, is that Phillips knows what Michael’s fans want to hear, and how to play into the narrative. I have no problem believing Michael was, in fact, every inch that sophisticated, articulate business man that Phillips describes. His career accomplishments are proof of that, and I don’t need Randy Phillips to confirm the obvious for me. But at the end, he was not in control of his life. AEG was in control, and pulling the strings. And Phillips’s words and actions, as confirmed by himself and many witnesses, are certainly not the words and actions of someone who respected Michael Jackson-on any level. Let’s not forget that these were the alleged words Randy Phillips had to say about Michael, according to Conrad Murray’s documentary. (Granted, Murray isn’t exactly a beacon of truth and virtue, but based on what we now know and what many other witnesses have confirmed, I have no problem believing Phillips said this):

“What’s this bulls**t all about? Listen this guy is next to skid row. He’s going to be homeless. Nine security guards? Why does he need that? I’m paying for that s**t. I’m paying for the toilet paper he wipes his f**king a** with.”

Here are some important things to keep in mind about the situation and how it escalated that day. On the one had, a part of me can sympathize with Phillips’s plight. He’s got over 3,000 fans waiting at the 02. He’s getting frantic calls from 02 personnel. He knows they are facing, at the very least, a 90 minute drive across town through “mind boggling” traffic. And here is Michael, whether drunk or hung over, still undressed and dragging his heels. But was the situation really that dire, let alone dire enough to warrant physical abuse? Phillips seemed to admit that he allowed his own short temper to get the best of him, and that it was largely his own anxiety that fueled and then escalated the situation.

“We have a little issue”

Phillips had doubts Jackson would show up for the London announcement because he couldn’t reach him a week before the scheduled date. The singer was not returning his manager’s calls because he was upset that Tohme Tohme had planned to auction off some of his belongings. Phillips couldn’t call Jackson directly — only through Tohme, he said.

“I was flying blind,” Phillips testified. “I didn’t know what was happening in Michael’s camp.”

Phillips was starting to worry about Jackson breaking his contract with AEG Live for his “This Is It” concerts. “If there ever was a time to stop the process,” it was then in late February, he testified. “That’s when we had the least amount of risk and the greatest amount of collateral.”

But Phillips decided to press ahead, even if Jackson failed to get on the private jet for London.

Jackson arrived with his children, Tohme, a bodyguard, and a nanny who also did his hair and makeup on March 4, 2009. Phillips, who had to stop in Miami for the launch of Britney Spear’s “Circus” tour, landed in London on March 5, just hours before the press event was set to begin.

Phillips went to the Lanesborough Hotel, where Jackson and Tohme had adjacent suites on the first floor. He sat on Tohme’s couch watching CNN while the manager checked on Jackson, he testified.

“I was starting to freak out,” after a while, he said. Getting from the hotel to the O2 Arena on the east end of London could take 90 minutes since “traffic is mind-boggling,” he said.

After more waiting, “I am completely freaking out,” Phillips said. “I was in the hallway pacing back and forth.”

“We have a little issue,” Tohme eventually told him, he testified. “Michael got drunk.”

Tohme returned to Jackson’s suite, leaving an anxious Phillips in the hotel hallway, he said.

“I had an earpiece in my ear, Blackberry in my hand, and I was typing e-mails at the same time I was talking and receiving e-mails from a lot of very concerned people at the O2,” Phillips testified.

One of those e-mails was to his boss — parent company AEG CEO Tim Leiweke:

“MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent. Tohme and I are trying to sober him up and get him to the press conference with his hairdresser/makeup artist.”

Leiweke responded: “Are you kidding me?”

“Sweating bullets”

There were 3,000 fans and 350 news organizations waiting at the O2 for Jackson. “Time was ticking away,” he testified. “I was sweating bullets.”

Phillips eventually talked his way past bodyguard Alberto Alvarez and into Jackson’s room, where he saw an empty liquor bottle on the floor by his couch.

Jackson, wearing a robe and pants, “looked hung over,” Phillips testified.

“I said ‘Michael, are you OK?'” he said. “He said to me that he was really concerned that there wouldn’t be anyone there and maybe this would be a bust.”

“Trust me, Michael,” Phillips said he told him. “You’re quite wrong. You have over 3,000 adoring fans, many who have camped out over night.”

Phillips helped Jackson pick out the black shirt he wore to the event. But he reached his breaking point when Jackson could not get his armband fastened to his sleeve. After 10 minutes, the hotel engineer was called to help, he said.

“It was more than I could take,” Phillips testified.

Phillip’s next e-mail to his boss suggested his tone with Jackson was anything but soothing:

“I screamed at him so loud the walls are shaking,” Phillips said in another e-mail to Leiweke. “Tohme and I have dressed him and they are finishing his hair. Then we are rushing to the O2. This is the scariest thing I have ever seen. He’s an emotionally paralyzed mess, filled with self-loathing and doubt now that it is show time. He is scared to death. Right now I just want to get through this press conference.”

Phillips vented his frustration with more than words.

“I just slapped him and screamed at him louder that I did with Arthur Cassell,” he wrote to the person waiting outside the hotel with a Ford Expedition SUV and bus to take Jackson’s entourage to the O2.

Cassell is someone he once screamed at over a booking issue with Lionel Richie, he said in court.

“I slapped him on the butt,” like a football coach would with a player, he testified.

“A drama queen”

Phillips now takes the blame for letting the situation with Jackson get out of control.

“I admit to being a bit of a drama queen,” Phillips testified. “I was so nervous, I created so much tension in the room, you could cut the tension with a knife.”

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/12/showbiz/jackson-death-trial

Again, I want to stress that I agree absolutely with Helena’s assessment, that this was no mere slap on the behind, and I believe Phillips is lying through his eyeteeth. None of the scenario he is describing about this intensely stressful situation lends itself to a good-natured, motivational slap on the rear. By his own admission, Phillips was angry, frustrated, and tense, and it’s easy to believe he lost his temper. He wasn’t there to motivate Michael, nor was he interested in motivating him. Simply put,  he was angry at him and taking out his stress and frustration on him. Tempers were high. Everything he has testified points to a slap in the face. (But even a slap on the butt is no less humiliating and degrading, not that I believe that’s what it was).

And what was Michael actually slapped over? Let’s revisit this sentence, paraphrased from Phillips’s own testimony:

But he reached his breaking point when Jackson could not get his armband fastened to his sleeve.

So…an errant armband is what brought Phillips to the breaking point, resulting in violence? I don’t know what else could possibly be inferred from this statement.

The Well-Known Silver Armband That Michael Wore That Day Was What He Was Slapped Over. It Broke While Phillips Was Hellping Him Put It On.
The Well-Known Silver Armband That Michael Wore The Day Was What He Was Slapped Over. Phillips, Who Was Helping Him Dress, Admitted He “Lost It” When The Armband Wouldn’t Attach To The Sleeve.

All told, we have a lot of reasons to now understand why Michael’s 02 press conference seemed so rambling and disjointed that day. There was no speech formally prepared. In the haste to get to the 02 arena (and no doubt, with Phillips screaming in his ear) he had forgotten his glasses, and was unable to read the Teleprompter. He had been slapped in the face and brutally manhandled just hours before (I would consider being thrown into a shower, whether clothed or unclothed, a case of brutal manhandling). The thoughts swirling in his mind that day must have been conflicted and chaotic, indeed.

Phillips described it as an almost heroic transformation, as the frightened and “self loathing” superstar took the stage to face his fans. I don’t doubt that he grew taller in the moment. Michael had always gained his strength from the stage, from the spotlight, and from his fans. But I see much more when I watch this clip. Michael certainly isn’t walking drunk from the moment he steps out of the van. He is strutting his famous strut; confident and head held high. But it’s as if he has now gone into a determined “Let’s get this over with” mode. From the moment he steps out of that van, it becomes obvious he is creating distance between himself and Tohme and Phillips (watch as he walks; not only does he purposely stride several steps ahead of Tohme, but he never once even acknowledges his presence). This may or may not mean anything; he doesn’t acknowledge Alvarez, either, whose job at this point is merely to serve as security. But his demeanor seems to be clearly one of distancing himself from everyone around him. When he begins to speak at around 5:45, there is something else very interesting, as well. He says, “Thank you all” in a noticeably deeper voice. Although Michael was using his natural voice much moreso in later years, as I have noted before, Michael’s use of his “real” voice was reserved only for what he considered very important and momentous events-or, in other words, the more serious the subject at hand, and the higher the stakes, the more apt it would be for the vocal register to come down. This was a message to the fans: I am stripping away the pretense. What I’m about to tell you is very serious, and very important, so pay attention.  What follows next could be genuine nervousness and fumbling, or a calculated pause to let the moment sink in; it’s hard to tell. Michael was always the ultimate showman and certainly knew how to milk the moment. But when he intones, “THIS…IS…IT” at 5:58, there is a noticeable energy shift. The bravado seems forced to me. I don’t think he’s excited about announcing the shows. If there is genuine bravado here, it is from being able to take control and say the words, “THIS IS IT!” One has to wonder, was this the first that Phillips, Thome, and company had heard of any plans to make this “the final curtain call?” Or had Michael cleverly kept this ace up his sleeve, to be delivered at the right moment for maximum impact? Was it, possibly, a way of saying, “After this, you won’t control me anymore?”

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKaySqh1XPU[/tube]

Now watch these few minutes carefully from 6:10 to about 6:33. This is where I most sense that Michael is holding anger in check. It seems like he wants to say more, and is chomping at the bit because he knows he must keep a tight lid on things. He’s reluctant to say too much (hence, he relies on a lot of repetition). Watch his emphatic hand gestures that are punctuating his words; the raised eyebrow at 6:26 when he says, “These will be my final shows, performances, in London.” These are all base line gestures that Michael used to emphasize strong and genuine emotions, and to drive home a point. “When I say this is it, I really mean this is it because…”

Notice this. Michael almost starts to say why “this is it.” He gets as far as “because” and then there is a very, very long extended pause. It seems at first that he is merely overtaken by the crowd’s response-and I do think that is part of it. These few seconds right here are probably the rawest, and most genuine of the entire press conference, and one can especially appreciate this moment if we believe that he really was full of such doubt as Phillips described at the hotel, wondering if the fans would even care enough to turn out, let alone give such an overwhelming response. But perhaps there is something deeper going on here, as well. Perhaps in that moment Michael realized why he really couldn’t go into all the reasons “because.” It was not the time or place to vent those feelings, and perhaps, in the end, he simply didn’t want to let the fans down. There could be a number of possible scenarios, all of which may have been racing through his mind in those few seconds:

Perhaps he realized this wasn’t the time or place to vent, and expose AEG.

OR:

Perhaps in that instance, buoyed by the fans’ response, he really started to think, “Yes, I can do this, after all!”

OR:

Perhaps he simply felt bad for the fans, thus bringing us right back to Square One (realizing it simply wasn’t the time or place, and that he would have to bite the bit for now).

After this very long pause-one that must have given him ample time to let a lot of things sink in-he simply switches gears, and instead of giving us his “because” simply launches into his rehearsed (but emotionless) line, “I’ll be performing the songs my fans want to hear.”

I sense that Michael is torn between two very strong and conflicted emotions throughout the press conference: Anger at some hidden cause, and genuine love for the fans (along with a sense of regret at what has to be done and said). Throughout the conference, he reminds me of a dog we used to have who was an expert at growling out of one side of his mouth (at whatever he was angry at) while keeping his tongue out the other side of his mouth, for us. While Michael is stifling his anger at Phillips and company, he is trying hard to put his best face forward for his fans and for the press. But his growl is ever present-and I’m willing to bet it wasn’t lost on Phillips or Thome.

Most of all, he had to have been chafing at the indignity he had just endured. He once said that one of the hardest things to do was to endure Joe’s harsh punishmnets and criticisms, and then have to go onstage, smile, and pretend to the world that everything was just honky dory. And here he was, at fifty, enacting almost the exact same scenario.

Watching the video at 7:54, I’m also struck by how many times Michael felt compelled to repeat to the crowd, “I love you, from the bottom of my heart. You have to know that.” It reminds me of when a parent is trying hard to convince a child that what they’re doing is for the child’s own good. For whatever reason, it seemed of vital importance to Michael that day to make sure the fans took this message away from the press conference.

"He Seemed Angry At Us," One Fan Reported At The Time. Perhaps We Can Understand Now That He WAS Angry-But Not At The Fans.
“He Seemed Angry At Us,” One Fan Reported At The Time. Perhaps We Can Understand Now That He WAS Angry-But Not At The Fans.

I have heard some fans who were there that say say, later, that they felt a little put off by Michael’s demeanor that day-or at least, puzzled by it.  “He seemed angry at us,” one fan reported. I think those fans, possibly, were picking up on the same thing I am picking up on, but ignorant as to the cause, misdirected the reasons for that anger. It was certainly not at them. But now that we understand what it must have taken for Michael to come out and face them, after that horrific scene at the hotel, I think we are now in a much better position to understand what he must have been feeling. Phillips was right, in a way. Michael did undergo an amazing and heroic transformation that day. But did it come from simply reaching deep within and finding the courage to face that crowd, or perhaps because somewhere in those 90 minutes between the hotel and the 02 arena, he had plenty of time to think out a plan, and plenty of time to determine, “I’m not taking this sh_t.”

One can almost sense, with baited breath, that in that long pause after Michael says “This is it because…” that he just might say, “Because I’m not taking this &^%$ anymore.”

It might have been the day that officially ended Michael Jackson’s music career. But who knows, it just might have saved him.

In the end, his better judgment ruled. But he still managed to get across a loud message to the world, in three words: “THIS IS IT.”

I chose to call this piece “The Slap Heard ‘Round The World” despite the media’s rather tepid coverage of this story. I chose to do so simply because I do think, in many important ways, that this slap has been a wake-up call. It has been a wake-up call to a media that, so far, has refused to acknowledge the responsibility of the entertainment industry in how our artists are treated. Even if the truth must come to us in watered down fashion, we can still manage to look past “despondent” and “drunk” to the only words that matter:

Randy Phillips slapped Michael Jackson. Does the rest really matter? Again, I will ask the hypothetical question: If someone is physically abused, do we ask, “What did they do to deserve it?”

Personally, it seems to me that one of the saddest and most tragic aspects of Michael’s life is knowing that, in the end, at age fifty, his life had come full circle. As a child, he was often beaten and yelled at when he couldn’t or wouldn’t perform, or if he missed a step, or gave an “okay show.” As an adult, he was finally able to take full control of his life and career. But it seems now, from all indications, that his last months must have been a harrowing return right back to what he had endured in childhood. His life and show business career began with verbal and physical abuse, and that was how it ended.

I don’t have the heart to sugarcoat it. Perhaps when Michael said “This is it” that was his way of proclaiming that slap to the world, in a way that would allow him to keep his dignity intact.

Silence can often be the most powerful sound of all. Perhaps we’ll never know what Michael wanted to tell us when his “because” trailed off into silence. But I believe that the truth he couldn’t speak then, is coming out now.

And all I can say is, thank God that it is.

They Called Him Freak!

This Was Recently Shared On FB. I Saved It Because Jodi Gomes's Sentiments Express A Profound Truth As To Why Those Who Love Michael Continue To Fight For His Total Vindication-And Respect. But How Can The Above Words-And The Word "Freak"-Possibly Describe The Same Human Being? If You Have To Ask The Question...Then Welcome To The Life, and World, of Michael Joseph Jackson!
This Was Recently Shared On FB. I Saved It Because Jodi Gomes’s Sentiments Express A Profound Truth As To Why Those Who Love Michael Continue To Fight For His Total Vindication-And Respect. But How Can The Above Words-And The Word “Freak”-Possibly Describe The Same Human Being? If You Have To Ask The Question…Then Welcome To The Life, and World, of Michael Joseph Jackson!

Strangers came and scorned his joy
With ridicule and banter they tried to destroy
What in their minds was a skillful ploy
With cruel darts they tried to plunder
To suffocate and strangle his innocent wonder
Fighting hard, despite their blunder
Again and again to steal his thunder
Despite their attacks, they could not break
With all their barbs, they could not take
God’s gift of love, which they could not fake
Not knowing his strength of what he sought to seek
They complained aloud and called him a freak-Michael Jackon, Excerpted From Dancing The Dream, “Magical Child Part 2”.

I love a recent comment  I read that said: “AEG promised that things would get ugly. But so far, they are the ones who look like jerks!”

By the way, my title isn’t a typo. I intentionally left out the article “a” just as Shakespeare did in the famous line from Othello.  The line comes when the villain Iago asks Desdemona why she weeps, after having just had a confrontation with her husband. But the chaste Desdemona cannot bring herself to speak the word “whore.” “It abhors me now, that I speak the word.”

So the blunt and far more liberated Emilia does the job for her, effectively explaining all that needs to be said about the cause of those tears. “He called her whore.”

Sometimes I am reminded of the beauty and stark power of Elizabethean verse. By removing the article, the word takes on more significant power as a label. For Desdemona, being called whore was more than just an unfair accusation. It was a label that shook the very core of her self-identity. From that point forward, she would become a vulnerable victim-tormented and subject to doubting even her own innocence. Shakespeare’s play is a fascinating glimpse into the complexities of the human psyche, for as Othello and Desdemona both learn, if one is led to believe something long enough, and convincingly enough, it becomes their truth. Labels have the ability, and the power, to define us-if we let them.

The Power Of A Word. In Shakespeare's Othello. Desdemona Is Destroyed By A Single Word-"Whore."
The Power Of A Word. In Shakespeare’s Othello. Desdemona Is Destroyed By A Single Word-“Whore.”

Here is the write-up that CNN’s Alan Duke did on the story:

Los Angeles (CNN) — A top AEG executive referred to Michael Jackson as “the freak” and another called him “creepy” just hours before their company signed the pop icon to a huge concert deal.

The revelation brought an audible gasp in the Los Angeles courtroom at the wrongful death trial Wednesday and left fans crying.

Jackson’s mother and children are suing AEG Live for what they say was the negligent hiring, retention or supervision of Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the singer’s death.

Katherine Jackson watched from the front row as her lawyer questioned AEG Live Senior Vice President and General Counsel Shawn Trell about an e-mail exchange with his boss at parent company AEG.

The Jackson family matriarch began weeping when Trell returned to the witness stand Thursday morning. She left the courtroom and did not return.

“Is it the policy of AEG to talk in derogatory terms about the artist you’re going to do business with?” Jackson lawyer Brian Panish asked.

 “No,” Trell answered.

Panish then showed jurors an e-mail Trell sent on January 28, 2009, to Ted Fikre, AEG’s chief legal officer, letting him know he was about to go to Jackson’s home for the signing of the contract for his “This Is It” concert tour.

“Does that mean you get to meet the freak?” Fikre replied.

Trell responded: “Apparently. Not sure how I feel about that. Interesting for sure, but kind of creepy.”

The e-mail exchange happened less than four hours before Trell and other AEG executives visited Jackson’s Los Angeles home.

“This is a man you hoped to make millions and millions of dollars from?” Panish asked Trell. “Didn’t your mom ever say if you don’t have anything good to to say about someone, don’t say anything?”

Trell earlier testified that he was excited to meet Jackson for the first time and was impressed with his “good, firm handshake.”

“I may not have necessarily agreed with some of the life choices Michael Jackson made, but I certainly had enormous respect for him as an entertainer.”

Most of Wednesday’s session was a dry review of Jackson and Murray’s contracts as AEG Live’s defense team worked to convince jurors that Murray was not hired by the concert promoter. Jackson chose, hired and supervised the doctor, they contend.

Murray signed his contract the day before Jackson’s June 25, 2009, death, but AEG executives and Jackson never put their signatures on it. Jackson lawyers, however, argue he had been already working for two months based on an oral contract.

The Jackson lawsuit contends that AEG Live executives ignored red flags that should have warned them that Jackson was in danger from Murray’s treatment.

The coroner ruled that Jackson died from an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol, which Murray told police he was using to treat the singer’s insomnia.

Panish — the Jackson family’s lead lawyer — questioned Trell Thursday about his previous testimony that there were no “red flags” to alert AEG executives about Jackson’s declining health.

He showed jurors an e-mail sent to AEG Live President Randy Phillips and Co-CEO Paul Gongaware by “This Is It” stage manager John “Bugzee” Houghdahl on June 19, 2009 — six days before Jackson died.

“I have watched him deteriorate in front of my eyes over the last 8 weeks,” Houghdahl wrote. “He was able to do multiple 360 spins back in April. He’d fall on his ass if he tried now.”

Another Prince

The name of Prince Rogers Nelson — the artist commonly known as Prince — came up when Trell acknowledged that while AEG Live had promoted about 100 tours, it had produced only one other concert tour the size of Jackson’s shows.

When Panish suggested Prince had not had “a very favorable experience” with AEG, Trell said he’d not spoken to him about it.

Panish: “Did you ever try to get a doctor for $150,000 a month for Prince?”

Trell: “No.”

Panish: “And is Mr. Nelson is still alive today?”

Trell: “Yes.”

http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/23/showbiz/jackson-death-trial/index.html

For years, the media mocked Michael Jackson and labeled him “freak.” I am not going to get into all of the why’s and how’s of this conspiracy, a conspiracy that determined to knock Michael Jackson down once he became too powerful in the industry-or, more aptly, as a black man who became too powerful. That is all ground that has been covered quite thoroughly in other posts, and by other writers-not to mention, this post would be a million miles long if I got into all the back history.

For A Musical Genius and Iconic Legend To Be Labeled as "Freak" And "Wacko" Remains One Of The Great Tragedies Of Our Time
For A Musical Genius and Iconic Legend To Be Labeled as “Freak” And “Wacko” Remains One Of The Great Tragedies Of Our Time

But it has become one of the great-and sad-ironies of our time that one of the greatest musical geniuses of our time has also been saddled with such a derivative label. While some may point to the personal choices Michael made, nevertheless, the label derived from a deep-rooted desire to knock him from his pedestal. Of this, I am thoroughly convinced, because the media backlash against him began as soon as Thriller became the biggest selling album of all time-or to be more precise, right about the time that his then manager Frank Dileo began planting stories in the press about hyperbaric chambers and the Elephant Man’s bones. While at first intended to simply create a harmless mystique and the idea of an eccentric genius, the strategy backfired. Instead, these stories became like a wildfire that, once started, had no end in sight. It didn’t help that we were seeing Michael’s skin color getting lighter and lighter-with no explanation at the time, and that he was wearing more eyeliner with every subsequent album release (but, hey, it was the 80’s, after all!). All of these factors combined just in time to satisfy the jealous people in the industry who wanted to see him knocked from his throne.

Michael was not only acutely aware of the label, but even began to embrace and own it. Part of his public bravado, as evidenced in songs like 2 Bad, Is It Scary, and Threatened, was to say, “I will proudly be a freak, if that’s what you want/need me to be.” In other words, he was giving us permission to project onto him whatever we desired him to be. In doing so, he was holding up a mirror to ourselves, so that we might see our true human nature-and our driving need to have a scapegoat. “Freaks,” after all, have always served a vital function in our society. They show us the best and worst of who we are.

That Michael was well aware of his public perception as a “freak” is further evidenced in this clip from “Ghosts” in which he literally has a showdown-with himself. It is no coincidence that much of the dialog in Michael’s showdown with The Mayor (who, in turn, is simply Michael under a different guise) revolves around the liberal use of the word “freak” and “freaky.”

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnEmzNYc-1w[/tube]

If you are interested to learn more about “Ghosts” and what this scene perhaps tells us about how Michael viewed the “freak” label, you can read it here:

http://www.allforloveblog.com/?m=201202

Michael once said that he had rhinoceros skin. But despite all the public bravado; despite all the show of having embraced and “owned” the label, there can be no doubt. Labels hurt. Kids learn the power of names, from the time they are old enough to bully on the playground. True, names are not sticks and stones…but contrary to what the nursery rhyme teaches us, they have the power to bruise.

Micheal spoke out publicly many times about the pain and humiliation of these labels, as well as his suspicions of their origins:

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OBUgE6EDFo[/tube]

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-mXsCIoVyw[/tube]

But you might say, well, what can one expect from the tabloids? Sure, the press relished in calling Michael “freak.” But what about the people in the industry who worked with him? Surely we could expect higher standards of human conduct from them? Well, the bombshell dropped last week during the AEG trial. The revelation of the  email exchange between AEG Senior Vice President Shawn Trell and AEG chief legal officer Ted Fickre sheds light on something even infinitely sadder than what Michael had to deal with in the press. It shows the extent of disrespect that Michael had to deal with even from those within the industry-from the very people who stood to make millions off of his talent!

michaeljackson336961635
Sadly, It Had Been The Reality Of Michael’s Life Since Age 5

Sadly, I wish I could say that this was an isolated incident. But it is pretty much the story of Michael Jackson’s life from the age of five. I am not trying to add to the chorus of “poor Michael.” But it is a fact that his entire life became subjected to people who would gladly use him for what they could get out of him, with little to no respect for him as a human being.

Look, I have read all the excuses from the AEG apologists. But I’m not buying them. It doesn’t matter if this was a private exchange and never intended to be made public. When Michael said that Jews were leeches, that was a private, off-the-record remark never intended to be public, either. He was venting in an unguarded moment over some of his acquaintances whom he felt had betrayed him. But it didn’t stop his detractors from ripping him apart over it (yet these are some of the same people who now defend Fickre and Trell’s exchange on the basis of it being a private email!). Michael’s remark may have had some mitigating circumstances, but that still didn’t make it right. And you know what? Nor does the same excuse wash now, with what Trell and Fickre did.  The logic that it was a private exchange, and therefore above reproach, is as ludicrous as trying to defend something stupid that someone might blurt out while drunk by excusing it with  “oh, they were drunk.” Okay, maybe they were under the influence. But as we all know, alcohol only lowers inhibition; it doesn’t plant the thoughts in our heads!

In short, people can offer a lot of excuses. But words-once recorded or in print-are there forever.

In other words, it shouldn’t matter in the least if this was a private email between Trell and Fickre; it doesn’t matter if Fickre was joking; it doesn’t matter if it was never intended for Michael or his family or fans to know the remark was made. It doesn’t even matter if Trell made his comment based on preconceived notions before he met Michael (which he claims to have been the case).

The fact is, none of that matters. The comment was made. And no matter how some try to justify it, it wasn’t right. In fact, it was downright dehumanizing.

And let’s not forget, this is a mere few hours before AEG is set to sign a huge contract with Michael.

I can’t emphasize the sad irony of this enough. Michael would basically spend the last months of his life at the mercy of people who thought of him as “freak.” This isn’t merely a case of, say, two immature, college frat boys having a laugh about a geeky roommate.

Let’s reiterate Panish’s statement again:

“This is a man you hoped to make millions and millions of dollars from?” Panish asked Trell. “Didn’t your mom ever say if you don’t have anything good to to say about someone, don’t say anything?”

And let’s reiterate what stage manager John “Bugzee” Houghdahl stated in his June 19th, 2009 email to Randy Phillips:

“I have watched him deteriorate in front of my eyes over the last 8 weeks,” Houghdahl wrote. “He was able to do multiple 360 spins back in April. He’d fall on his ass if he tried now.”

I believe, as many do, that Michael’s health actually deteriorated from the time Murray began treating him on a daily and nightly basis. Which gets us right back squarely to the heart of what this trial is really all about. Michael’s death was ruled a homicide. So who is responsible? It seems to me that Murray was under just as much pressure as Michael to deliver at all costs-not that this in any way absolves him of his own guilt. But clearly there were strings at work, and someone was pulling them. The picture is emerging that Michael spent his last months bullied and pressured by people who had no respect for him other than as a commodity (and this by no means lets the Jacksons off the hook, either; he was a lifelong commodity to them, as well. But at least they were his family, not a corporate entity whose only personal interest in Michael was to see what “the freak” was like in person, and how much money can “the freak” make for us?).

Michael Shined In His Last, Few Nights Of Rehearsal. But It Seems His Health Had Deteriorated At An Alarming Rate Since April of 2009-Exactly When Murray Began "Treating" Him
Michael Shined In His Last, Few Nights Of Rehearsal. But It Seems His Health Had Deteriorated At An Alarming Rate Since April of 2009-Exactly When Murray Began “Treating” Him

Of course, I will agree on one thing. As many have pointed out, this email exchange only sheds light on the character of a few individuals behind the scenes. It can’t stand as evidence that AEG is responsible for Michael’s death, or that AEG hired Murray-which, after all, is what the jury will have to ultimately decide.

AEG attorney Jessica Stebbins Bina said that the emails served no function except to “embarrass AEG.”

Well, perhaps they should be embarrassed. Perhaps they need to be embarrassed. It doesn’t exactly reflect well on them for the public to know that this is how they privately discuss the entertainers they sign.

AND…

Let’s not forget that there is a valid reason why character assassination is such a vital part of both prosecution and defense strategies. Juries are comprised of human beings, who of course are susceptible to the same prejudices as all of us. Didn’t AEG’s attorneys promise to reveal “ugly things” regarding Michael? I say, turnabout is fair play.

Knowing that AEG executives blatantly disrespected Michael may not determine the company’s guilt.

But it sure succeeds in making them look like a__holes.

Which just may make it seem all the more likely that they held his life in as little regard as they held him.

As for Shawn Trell, after agreeing that Michael was a “freak” and that meeting him was going to be “kind of creepy,” what impression did he ultimately walk away with?

Shawn Trell was questioned by both sides.

“I won’t forget meeting Michael Jackson,” said Shawn Trell.

“He seemed very personable when I met him. I thought it was

very interesting when he got up and met me at the door,” explained Shawn Trell.

https://twitter.com/ABC7Courts

He had also mentioned, as noted, being impressed by his “good, firm handshake” (this doesn’t seem like much, but in the business world, it is everything).

Trell also stated that he had “enormous respect for him as an entertainer” even if he didn’t agree with “some of the life choices he made.” But hmmm. That’s an interesting choice of words. What life choices, exactly? He was never convicted of anything, and didn’t even indulge in most of the wild excesses of so many of the celebrities that I’m sure AEG deals with on a daily basis. It would still seem to me that this was a prejudice based on reputation alone.

Just how badly can words hurt? It was reported that Katherine Jackson left the courthouse weeping on Thursday, and was unable to return. Fans were reported openly weeping in the hallway, saying that animals are treated better. No doubt, these reactions were the culmination of hearing so many painful details, stacked one upon the other. But you know it has to be hard for any mother, especially one who has buried her child, to have to sit and hear him called “freak”

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQzEmelPVa4[/tube]

Trell Described Meeting A Humble Man Who Met Him At The Front Door; Whose Handshake Was Firm; Whose Demeanor And Hospitality Was Every Bit A Gentleman. A Far Cry From The "Creepy Freak" He Expected To Meet.
Trell Described Meeting A Humble Man Who Met Him At The Front Door; Whose Handshake Was Firm; Whose Demeanor And Hospitality Was Every Bit A Gentleman. A Far Cry From The “Creepy Freak” He Expected To Meet.

But it’s not the word itself. “Freak” is, after all, merely a five-letter word. However, its implications have the power to stretch far beyond its diminutive appearance. It says everything about the world that Michael Jackson-one of the greatest musical geniuses of our time- had to live, work in, and face on a daily basis. Somehow, it just shouldn’t be this way.

The interesting thing about trials-barring the fact that they have very serious consequences for those involved-is that they are a lot like watching a really good tennis match. One side serves, and they are off, slinging back and forth until, ultimately, one side comes out victorious. AEG will be working overtime to prove their case, and in the months ahead, they will be unloading every weapon in their arsenal to make Michael out to be the jerk. But right now, they have some tough hurdles to overcome.

I am glad, for his sake, that  Trell had an opportunity to get to know the real Michael Jackson. Like so many (I have heard this same story play out a million times!) he expected to meet a “freak” and instead, met a true gentleman whose decorum and manners left a lasting impression on him.

It would be nice to think that, somewhere in the back of his mind, he regretted those words. It would be nice to think he sent a follow-up letter to Ted Fickre that said, “We may have misjudged the guy.”

In a perfect and ideal world, maybe. But this is the real world, and it is the reality of a world where multi-million dollar deals trump any concerns for human respect, dignity, or even-in some cases-human welfare.

It was the reality of Michael’s world for forty-five years.

Wade Robson: What The Heck Is Really Going On? Pt 1

Michael Once Said He Could Count His True Friends On One Hand. That Number Continues To Shrink.
Michael Once Said He Could Count His True Friends On One Hand. That Number Continues To Shrink.

How the heck did we go from this:

I used to talk to Michael for three hours a day. I never really worked out how he came to find so much time because he seemed so busy, but he would ring me and we would talk and talk and talk. When he got a cell phone he would call and text all the time.It was part of an amazing friendship that lasted for 20 years.
I had firdt met Michael when he was kicking off his bad tour in 1987. I was five, but Michaels company were holding a dance competition in every country and i entered the one in brisbane. I remember being a kid and dancing to his video- the first iever say was “Thriller” when i was two. It was my mum’s tape and i just went nuts over it. I used to run into the kitchen scared everytime the wereworlf came on. By the time i was three i had pretty much learned its entire choreoghraphy.
I ended up winning the dance competition. We went to see Michael in brisbane and at a meet and greet i was introduced to him. I remember wearing a custome made outfit from “Bad”- my mum’s belt was wrapped around me, like five times. Michael was impresssed and asked me if I had danced. I told him that I did and he said ” Do you want to perform with me in the show tomorrow night?”
I couldn’t believe it. He was due to play brisbane the next night. His idea was for me to come out for the last song of the show which was “Bad”. He was bringing on some orphaned children so he figured it would be cool to bring me out in the full “Bad” outfit. At the end of the song we were all onstage- Stevie Wonder was there too and Michael came on and said “Come on”. | took it as him meaning “Get into it!”.I moved downstage and threw my hat into the crowd and started going crazy. When i turned around Michael was saying goodbye to the crowd, the other kids were gone and Stevie Wonder was being escorted off. What he meant was “Come on lets go, It’s over”.
When I realised, I ran off. After my mum and I spent two hours with Michael into his hotel and we became friends. He showed us clips from the new Moonwalker he was working on and we talked and talked. We didn’t really stay in contact but i joined a dance company- literally the next day and two years later i was in America to play at Disneyland. I got in touch with Michael through his people, he remembered me. Me and my family went to Record one studio where he was mixing the dangerous album.I showed him some of my dance videos and he said to me. “Do you and your family want to come to Neverland tonight”? We all agreed and ended up staying for two weeks.
Our friendship blossomed. For two weeks he’d take me into his dance studio, put some music on and we’d dance and jam for hours.We’d sit there and watch films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.Other time we’d just leave Neverland and drive out in a car, blasting music really loud.
He even taught me how to do the moonwalk.We were in his dance studip. He taught me foot by foot. I couldn’t sleep that whole night. The thrill of pushing off the bar and sliding backwards in a moonwalk with the guy that made it famous was so exciting.
Later, me and my mym wanted to move to America to pursue my dreams of becoming a dancer and he helped us out. He gave me a big start by putting me in some of his videos like “Black or White”. The role he took on was one of a mentor. He told when I was seven that I’d be a film director and thats what I became, he created a thirst for knowledge in me.Once, a mini recording studio turned up on my doorstep, but what was cool was that he stopped me from becoming a spoiled brat. He would say “This is for you, but I want to see you do something with it. Dont take it for granted or I”ll take it back”. The last time I saw him was in July 2008. I was in Vegas working on a show and he was living there.Me, my wife and him and his three kids had a barbecue. It was the most normal thing in the world. Me and my wife had been to Whole foods and bought stuff to cook. But when we got there he’d provided loads of catering. I said “Dude, Why did you bring loads of catering? We’ve got regular food here”.I remember cooking outside while Michael sat there under an umbrella.
We had great times because he was such a caring person. Most of all I’ll miss those phone conversations. I still have my mobile phone with his number on it. I just cant bear the thoughts of deleting his messages.

Hope you all enjoy reading as much as I did.-Wade Robson, Introduction to Michael Jackson Opus

 

To this?

wade-robson-creditor-claim

 

Even with all of the AEG trial news going on last week, this was the story that rocked the fan community.  It has been almost a week ago as I am typing the finishing touches on this post, and “some” of the dust has started to settle a bit. But as the initial shock has begun to wear off, the deeper and more puzzling questions remain. Why the heck is Wade Robson doing this-and the bigger question so many are asking, Why now?

Wade-robson-and-Michael-Jackson-1While I am sure that most of my diehard readers know the full details of this story by now, I will just reiterate briefly for the sake of those casual readers who may be stumbling across this for the first time. On May 1st, 2013, an attorney representing choreographer Wade Robson-a longtime friend and supporter of Michael Jackson and one of the young men who defended him most adamantly in his 2005 molestation trial-filed a debtor’s claim against the Michael Jackson estate. While the details of the claim are sealed, Robson, via his attorney, is apparently seeking monetary compensation for childhood sexual abuse he claims to have suffered for seven years, from 1989-1996. Ordinarily, the statute of limitations for such a claim would have long expired, but Robson is relying on the still relatively new and unproven science of “repressed memory” to make a case. You see, according to his claim (if you find this believable) the whole reason he so adamantly defended MJ all those years, and paid such glowing tributes to him as his mentor and friend, was because…well, simply that he didn’t remember any such abuse happening. Until he had a breakdown and went for some therapy. Now, voila…he has a memory, and needs some cash. Get it? Good. Because that’s the story, in a nutshell.

The problem is that many might have been inclined to take his claims a lot more seriously if : 1:He had come forward years ago, and sought a criminal or even civil charge when Michael was alive to defend himself, rather than waiting four years after his death to file a debtor’s claim, and 2: If he hadn’t testified under oath-not once, but twice-that nothing ever happened. The thing about Robson, in fact, is that he not only swore under oath, but actively and aggressively defended his friend.

You can read the full document here:

http://amradaronline.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/wade-robson-full-doc.pdf

Mr. Robson’s claim is outrageous and pathetic. This is a young man who has testified at least twice under oath over the past 20 years and said in numerous interviews that Michael Jackson never did anything inappropriate to him or with him…Now, nearly 4 years after Michael has passed, this sad and less than credible claim has been made.”-Howard Weitzman, Michael Jackson Estate Attorney, In A Statement To TMZ.

All I can say is that I’m glad my schedule prevented me from firing off any knee jerk responses to this story. Instead, I was able to take a few days to cool my heels, gather some facts, and really take a good, long, hard look at what the heck is going on with Wade Robson.

First of all, this news isn’t separate from the AEG trial at all. I think most reasonable people-including even the media-have recognized the suspicious timing of Robson’s accusations. Here is what Michael’s attorney Thomas Mesereau had to say:

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xQ9Z4LLPqY[/tube]

And from the looks of things, Robson isn’t exactly getting a lot of sympathy. After all, it’s one thing for a child victim to accuse someone. It’s quite another when said “victim” is a thirty-year old-man who has sung the praises of his “abuser” for years, was a star witness for him in court, and now waits-hold on-not one, not two, but four years after said “abuser” is dead and cannot defend himself-to suddenly have “repressed memories” that entitle him-again, not to file a criminal complaint, or even a civil complaint, but a debtor’s claim-in hopes that he can somehow convince the Michael Jackson estate to pay him enough “yum yum” money dollars” to make him go away.

Roger Friedman: Wade Robson Will Have To Refute This Video: http://www.showbiz411.com/2013/05/08/michael-jackson-accuser-will-have-to-refute-this-video-we-had-a-wonderful-relationship

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqubEuZmLfM[/tube]

Sharon Osbourne rips Wade Robson a good one on The Talk!

[tube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ki1JYshsI8[/tube]

Omarion rips him another one!

050813_omarion_lunch

 

TMZ Poll: Readers Speak!

 

Do You Believe Robson?

  • No
    75%
  • Yes
    25%

Total Votes: 59,119

 
Now add to this mix the fact that all of this just “happens” to break with the start of the AEG trial, and you have The Perfect Storm…and the perfect recipe for so few are taking this story seriously. For sure, it certainly looks like a crass money grab at the very least (if one believes Robson is acting alone) or perhaps part of a much larger, and deeper conspiracy (if one believes that AEG is behind it).

I have been asking myself a lot of hard questions the last few days. Just how plausible might Wade’s story be? How reliable is the science of repressed memory? Is it just possible that he was lying in 2005, and is telling the truth now? I know there are some fans who are so adamant in their unwavering belief in Michael’s innocence that they will never entertain, for a moment, the need to question a story like Robson’s.   But I think that is the wrong approach to take.  In order to get to the truth, we have to ask the tough questions-and not be afraid to do so.  The possibilities have to be at least examined before they can be debunked. So hear me out and follow where I am going with this.

There is very good reason why this story is so upsetting to the fan community. Wade Robson was, as stated, a key witness in Michael’s 2005 molestation trial-one who was not only adamant, but unwavering in his testimony that no abuse or inappropriate behavior had ever occurred. For years, Robson’s testimony-in addition to that of Macaulay Culkin and Brett Barnes-has been the cornerstone of fans who take comfort in being able to point out, “Look, of all these kids that Michael supposedly hung out with, only two have ever accused him of anything. All of the others have sworn up and down that nothing ever happened, and have been more than reliable witnesses.”

Wade Robson Arriving To Testify In Michael's 2005 Trial
Wade Robson Arriving To Testify In Michael’s 2005 Trial

Robson, in fact, was more than just a reliable witness. He was, in the words of Thomas Mesereau, a “star witness” for the defense.

As has been pointed out time and again, Robson certainly has a “lot of explaining to do,” to quote Roger Friedman. If he purjured himself in 2005, he’s got to explain that. If he’s been lying all these years that he’s been singing Michael Jackson’s praises to the skies, he’s got a lot of explaining to do.

And if he’s been telling the truth all these years, he has even more  explaining to do.

I can’t claim to know what is true or not. Even though I know fans take issue with those who say things like, “Only Michael and Wade know for sure” it is, nevertheless, true. I did not, for example, take offense when Lisa Marie said in her Oprah interview that she could only vouch for what she had seen, and that she had never seen any inappropriate behavior between Michael and children. Her comment that she wasn’t “in the room” with Michael and his alleged victims drew some ire from those who felt she was leaving a chink open for the doubters. (Ironically enough, according to the timeline Robson has given, at least some of the alleged abuse would have been during the time of Michael’s marriage to LMP). But really, what else could she say with good conscience?  I know people wanted her to say adamantly, “Absolutely not, Michael would never have done such a thing!” But here is the truth. No matter how much we might think we know someone (even our own spouses!); no matter how much we might want to believe, “Michael wasn’t that kind of person” the unfortunate reality of child sexual abusers is that we can’t base anything on the person’s character or what kind of person we “think” they are. This is fact, and I’m not going to entertain any comments to the contrary. There is simply no way to judge whether someone is or is not a pedophile or a child molestor based on their good works, their good name, or their good character. I have mentioned here several times that I, myself, am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I won’t reveal the identity of my abuser, except to say he was a family member and a most upstanding citizen-to the outside world. Someone no one would have ever suspected of such things. But as a child sexual abuse survivor, it also gives me some clearer insight into Michael’s “alleged” victims. Of course, every victim’s case is somewhat different, and there is no one-size-fits-all gauge with which to assess a “victim’s” story. But it does, in some ways, give me the ability to better filter what is truthful and plausible vs. what is total BS.

Secondly, I consider myself a Michael Jackson fan second, and a Michael Jackson researcher/scholar first. Which, simply translated, means I am proud to say that my belief in Michael’s innocence is based on factual research and evidence, rather than knee-jerk, emotional responses based on what I “want” to believe.  I’m sorry if my blunt approach offends some. I don’t mean for it to offend. I just believe that in order to truly vindicate Michael, it takes a hard stance approach and the ability to not flinch at some less-than-pleasant muck that has to be waded through.

I Do Believe 100% In Michael's Innocence. But I Don't Believe The Truth Can Be Obtained By Avoiding The Tough Questions, Or Going For The Easy, Obvious Defenses.
I Do Believe 100% In Michael’s Innocence. But I Don’t Believe The Truth Can Be Obtained By Avoiding The Tough Questions, Or Going For The Easy, Obvious Defenses.

And I’m going to say one thing right now in regards to all this “repressed memory” nonsense. It is pure bs. Yes, it may have some validity if we’re talking a five year old child. It may have some validity if we’re talking a child too young to have comprehension of what sex is, or more aptly, too young to realize that what an adult is doing is making them uncomfortable. It would be perfectly logical in that case to assume that the memory might become repressed, only to be triggered later in life.

But I don’t buy it in the case of an older child, especially a child over the age of seven. I was nine when my abuse first occurred. I was molested repeatedly from the age of nine to fourteen. Trust me, you don’t forget. You can block it out as a coping mechanism, but the images; the memories do not just go away or become “blanked out.”  What actually happens has more to do with one simple fact: Some people simply have a higher tolerance for trauma than others. While some may become emotionally debilitated by such a trauma, to the point of being almost dysfunctional, some can simply accept it as something bad that happened, and move on. This is really, essentially, what the “compartmentalization” is all about that some therapists speak of. It is, however, not so much compartmentalization as simply being able to put the bad memory on a shelf-or on the backburner of one’s life-and move on.

However, that doesn’t mean the memory isn’t there. My abuser didn’t conk me on the head and force me to black out. I didn’t quite know what was happening when I was nine, but I knew it was sick and unnatural; that it was NOT something an adult and a child were supposed to be doing together. By the time I knew what sex was, I was very consciously aware of what had been done to me.

I reported him the first time; that led to years of therapy that basically went nowhere (the abuse continued, despite the best efforts of DHR to keep the family together) and finally, at fifteen, I just removed myself from the situation altogether. I lived with my grandmother until I was a legal adult.

I moved on with my life. Eventually, I forgave my abuser, but I never forgot. I simply made a conscious choice to not allow this to be something that ruled my life. I still have my “issues” but I don’t dwell on what happened to me. I think that abuse victims make a conscious choice-either to work at healing and to get on with life, or to let another person’s actions overtake their life. However, I can say that sexual abuse does f_k with a kid’s head on so many levels, it isn’t even funny. There is just something about that manipulation of trust, and abuse of power, that one never gets over.

Which is also why it is something one never forgets. There was never a time when I couldn’t recall, in exact, vivid detail, exactly what was done to me-where, when, even down to what time of day it was. I could tell you in most instances what I was wearing. I could tell you that the first time I remembered it happening, I was lying on a rug in the living room, coloring in my coloring book. I remember that exact moment when the complete innocence of childhood ended for me.

How does one just forget a thing like that? If anything, traumatic experiences are even more branded into memory than the inconsequential stuff. I certainly couldn’t tell you anything about the first time I ate a bowl of breakfast cereal (but I could tell you all about the time I got salmonella poisoning from eating a bowl of cereal when I was eleven!). I couldn’t tell you about the first day I went to school, but I could tell you all about the day in second grade when a bully slapped me so hard on the playground that it knocked me dizzy.

And, yes, I could tell you more detail about the night I was first molested by my abuser than my first, consensual sexual experience as an adult.

You simply don’t forget a thing like that, if you’re old enough to have conscious memory at all. While I do think it is certainly possible that one can consciously bury a memory, I don’t buy into the idea that one can simply blank them out. Certainly not someone claiming a long-standing abuse that went on, allegedly, for seven years! That puts the time frame of Wade’s “abuse” roughly equivalent with my own, with only a difference of one year, for in my case, it was six years.

Okay, so even if a reasonable minded person bought into the idea of one repressed memory from one incident, we are supposed to believe that Wade Robson somehow miraculously blocked out seven whole years of his life?

Gosh gee, I sure remember my six years of abuse, cause I was living in fear and revulsion every single day of it! I went to school every morning sick to my stomach; I came home from school sick to my stomach. I couldn’t concentrate in class, and my grades plummeted. How the hell does one forget such feelings?

Robson Expects A Gullible Public To Buy That He Somehow Mnagaed To Block Out Seven YEARS Of His Life!
Robson Expects A Gullible Public To Buy That He Somehow Mnagaed To Block Out Seven YEARS Of His Life!

In short, the whole idea of “repressed memory” is really a bogus science that has yet to be proven. Its reliability as grounds for a civil or criminal case in a court of law is still very much up for debate.  While some cases based on “repressed memory” have gone in favor of the plaintiffs, many more have not.

This was a very good, unbiased article that I found which examines both the validity and shortcomings of repressed memory as a science-and especially as a valid, legal claim for adults seeking compensation for alleged abuses that occurred 20, 30, even 40 years ago!

http://faculty.washington.edu/eloftus/Articles/lof93.htm

The article is too long to paste here in its entirety, and not all of it is directly relevant to Wade Robson’s claims, but I did want to include this excerpt, which  I found extremely interesting, on  how it is possible for false memories to be implanted, which the unsuspecting patient may then take as genuine repressed memory (to be fair, the first half of this article deals with cases in which the memories are authentic, which in some cases they have proven to be. But let’s look at what is said about non-authentic memories (note that the case of Patti Barton, beneath the heading “Litigation Accounts” is an example of a so-called “repressed memory” that occurred when the victim was fifteen months old-again, a perfect example that repressed memory may be viable for abuse that occurs before the child is consciously old enough to be aware of the act, but becomes increasingly doubtful the older the child is at the time of the alleged abuse:

The Memories Are Not Authentic

To say that memory might be false does not mean that the person is deliberately lying. Although lying is always possible, even psychotherapists who question the authenticity of reports have been impressed with the honesty and intensity of the terror, rage, guilt, depression, and overall behavioral dysfunction accompanying the awareness of abuse ( Ganaway, 1989, p. 211 ).

There are are at least two ways that false memories could come about. Honestly believed, but false, memories could come about, according to Ganaway (1989), because of internal or external sources. The internal drive to manufacture an abuse memory may come about as a way to provide a screen for perhaps more prosaic but, ironically, less tolerable, painful experiences of childhood. Creating a fantasy of abuse with its relatively clear-cut distinction between good and evil may provide the needed logical explanation for confusing experiences and feelings. The core material for the false memories can be borrowed from the accounts of others who are either known personally or encountered in literature, movies, and television. 5

 

Sources of Details That Could Affect Memory
There are at least two important sources that could potentially feed into the construction of false memories. These include popular writings and therapists’ suggestions.

Popular Writings

All roads on the search for popular writings inevitably lead to one, The Courage to Heal ( Bass & Davis, 1988 ), often referred to as the “bible” of the incest book industry. The Courage to Heal advertises itself as a guide for women survivors of child sexual abuse. Although the book is undoubtedly a great comfort to the sexual abuse survivors who have been living with their private and painful memories, one cannot help but wonder about its effects on those who have no such memories. Readers who are wondering whether they might be victims of child sexual abuse are provided with a list of possible activities ranging from the relatively bening (e.g., being held in a way that made them uncomfortable) to the unequivocally abusive (e.g., being raped or otherwise penetrated). Readers are then told “If you are unable to remember any specific instances like the ones mentioned above but still have a feeling that something abusive happened to you, it probably did” (p. 21). On the next page, the reader is told

 

You may think you don’t have memories, but often as you begin to talk about what you do remember, there emerges a constellation of feelings, reactions and recollections that add up to substantial information. To say, “I was abused,” you don’t need the kind of recall that would stand up in a court of law. Often the knowledge that you were abused starts with a tiny feeling, an intuition… Assume your feelings are valid. So far, no one we’ve talked to thought she might have been abused, and then later discovered that she hadn’t been. The progression always goes the other way, from suspicion to confirmation. If you think you were abused and your life shows the symptoms, then you were. (p. 22)

What symptoms? The authors list low self-esteem, suicidal or self-destructive thoughts, depression, and sexual dysfunction, among others. 6

Others have worried about the role played by The Courage to Heal. A recent survey of several hundred families accused by derepressed memories revealed that the book was implicated “in almost all cases” ( Wakefield & Underwager, 1992, p. 486 ). Complaints about the book range from its repeated suggestion that abuse probably happened even if one has no memories of it and that demands for corroboration are not reasonable, to its overt encouragement of “revenge, anger, fantasies of murder or castration, and deathbed confrontations” ( Wakefield & Underwager, 1992, p. 485 ). In all fairness, however, it should be mentioned that the book is long (495 pages), and sentences taken out of context may distort their intended meaning. Nonetheless, readers without any abuse memories of their own cannot escape the message that there is a strong likelihood that abuse occurred even in the absence of such memories.

The recent incest book industry has published not only stories of abuse but also suggestions to readers that they were likely abused even if there are no memories, that repressed memories of abuse undoubtedly underlie one’s troubles, or that benefits derive from uncovering repressed memories and believing them. One popular book about incest is the paperback by E. Sue Blume (1990), the book jacket of which itemizes one of the author’s chief credentials as the “Creator of the Incest Survivors’ Aftereffects Checklist.” Blume, a private practice therapist, tells readers that she has “found that most incest survivors have limited recall about their abuse” (p. 81). She goes on to say that “Indeed, so few incest survivors in my experience have identified themselves as abused in the beginning of therapy that I have concluded that perhaps half of all incest survivors do not remember that the abuse occurred” (p. 81).

Some of the volumes provide exercises to help readers lift the repression. Farmer (1989), for example, tells readers to try one particular exercise “whether or not you have any conscious recollection of the abuse you suffered” (p. 91). The reader is to sit down, relax, and mentally return to childhood. The next step is to choose a particular memory, whether fuzzy or clear, and “bring that memory to your full attention” (p. 91). Details about what to do with the memory are provided, along with an example from the life of “Danielle,” who thought about how verbally abusive her father had been, and “Hazel,” who remembered anger at her mother’s treating her like a rag doll. This exercise allegedly helped to “lift the lid of repression” and unbury the “Hurting Child.”

Do these examples lift the lid of repression? Perhaps. But another equally viable hypothesis is that the examples influence the creation of memories or, at the very least, direct the search through memory that the reader will ultimately take. 9

Therapists’ Suggestions

Blume’s (1990) observation that so many individuals enter therapy without memories of abuse but acquire memories during therapy naturally makes one wonder about what might be happening in therapy. According to Ganaway (1989), honestly believed but false memories could come about in another way, through unintentional suggestion from therapists. Ganaway noted a growing trend toward the facile acceptance and expressed validation of uncorroborated trauma memories, perhaps in part due to sensitization from years of accusations that the memories are purely fantasy. Herman (1992, p. 180) made a similar point: Whereas an earlier generation of therapists might have been discounting or minimizing their patients’ traumatic experiences, the recent rediscovery of psychological trauma has let to errors of the opposite kind. Some contemporary therapists have been known to tell patients, merely on the basis of a suggestive history or symptom profile, that they definitely had a traumatic experience. Even if there is no memory, but merely some vague symptoms, certain therapists will inform a patient after a single session that he or she was very likely the victim of a satanic cult. Once the “diagnosis” is made, the therapist urges the patient to pursue the recalcitrant memories. Although some therapists recommend against persistent, intrusive probing to uncover early traumatic memories (e.g., Bruhn, 1990), others enthusiastically engage in these therapeutic strategies. Evidence for this claim comes in a variety of forms: (a) therapist accounts of what is appropriate to do with clients, (b) client accounts of what happened during therapy, (c) sworn statements of clients and therapists during litigation, and (d) taped interviews of therapy sessions.

Therapist accounts.

One therapist, who has treated more than 1,500 incest victims, openly discussed her method of approaching clients ( Forward & Buck, 1988 ). “You know, in my experience, a lot of people who are struggling with many of the same problems you are, have often had some kind of really painful things happen to them as kids–maybe they were beaten or molested. And I wonder if anything like that ever happened to you?” (p. 161). Other clinicians claim to know of therapists who say “Your symptoms sound like you’ve been abused when you were a child. What can you tell me about that?” ( Trott, 1991a, p. 18 ); or worse, “You sound to me like the sort of person who must have been sexually abused. Tell me what that bastard did to you” ( Davis, 1991, p. 82 ).

At least one clinician advocated “It is crucial…that clinicians ask about sexual abuse during every intake” ( Frawley, 1990 ). The rationale for this prescription is that a clinician who asks conveys to the client that the client will be believed and that the clinician will join with the client in working through the memories and emotions linked with childhood sexual abuse. Asking about sexual abuse along with a list of other past life events makes sense given the high instance of actual abuse, but the concern is how the issue is raised and what therapists do when clients initially deny an abusive past.

Evidence exists that some therapists do not take no for an answer. One therapist (who otherwise seemed sensitive to problems of memory tampering) still recommended “When the client does not remember what happened to her, the therapist’s encouragement to `guess’ or `tell a story’ will help the survivor regain access to the lost material” ( Olio, 1989, p. 6 ). She went on to provide the example of a client who suspected sexual abuse but had no memories. The client had become extremely anxious at a social gathering in the presence of a three-year-old girl. She had no idea why she was upset except that she wanted the little girl to keep her dress down. When encouraged in therapy to tell a story about what was going to happen to the little girl, the client ultimately related with tears and trembling one of the first memories of her own abuse. She used the story to “bypass her cognitive inhibitions and express the content of the memory” (p. 6). Later she “integrated the awareness that she was indeed the little girl in the story” (p. 6). One cannot help but wonder about these mental fantasy exercises in light of known research showing that the simple act of imagination makes an event subjectively more likely (e.g., Sherman, Cialdini, Schwartzman, & Reynolds, 1985).

Even if the therapist does not encourage the client to guess or tell a story, stories sometimes get told in the form of client dreams. If discussions of incest go on during the day, and day residue gets into the dreams at night, it would not be surprising to see that dreams of incest might result. Poston and Lison (1990) described a woman with “repressed memories” of incest who reported a dream about watching a little girl ice skate on a frozen river. In her dream, the woman tried desperately to warn the child that monsters and snakes were making their way through the ice to devour her. Although frightened, the woman was powerless and could not warn the innocent child. A few days later, the client began remembering incest from her childhood. Knowing she had “a trusted relationship with a therapist and a survivor’s group that would understand and accept her” (p. 197), the memories began to flow.

Examples of therapists interpreting dreams as signs of memory of abuse can be found throughout the literature. One clinician described with pride how she communicated to her male patient the basis for her suspicions that he had been abused: “On many occasions, I explained that these dreams had preserved experiences and impressions of an indelible nature” ( M. Williams, 1987, p. 152 ).

Frederickson (1992), who has worked with many incest survivors, has also described in detail her methods of getting patients to remember. She recommended that the therapist guide the patient “to expand on or explore images that have broken through to the conscious mind, allowing related images of the abuse to surface. The process lets the survivor complete the picture of what happened, using a current image or flash as a jumping-off point” (p. 97). She also suggested that the therapist help the patient expand on the images and sensations evoked by dreams “to shed light on or recover our repressed memories” (p. 98). She extolled the virtues of hypnosis to “retrieve buried memories” (p. 98) and recommended that patients “jot down suspected memories of abuse you would like to explore. Include your own felt sense of how you think you were abused” (p. 102).

Even if clinicians are not the first to bring up sexual abuse, they will often reinforce what begins as a mere suspicion. One client developed the idea that she might have been sexually abused, tried hypnosis to help her recover memories, and obsessed for years. Only after her therapist stated that she believed sexual assault was “indeed possible” and cited nightmares, phobia of men, and other symptoms as evidence did the client come up with some specific memories ( Schuker, 1979, p. 569 ).

Before leaving the examples of therapist accounts of what goes on in therapy, it is important to add a word of caution. Sherrill Mulhern, a psychiatric anthropologist, has documented the alarming discrepancies that often exist between therapists’ accounts of what they have done in therapy and what is revealed in video- or audiotapes of those same sessions ( Mulhern, 1991 ).

If memories are uncovered–whether after repeated probing, after telling stories, after dreams, or seemingly spontaneously–or even if the memories remain buried, therapists often send their clients to support groups. In one study of clients who had, in the course of therapy, verbalized their victimization through ritualistic abuse, the majority reported that they had participated in these types of groups ( Shaffer & Cozolino, 1992 ). One group, Survivors of Incest Anonymous (SIA), publishes extensive reading materials intended to aid the recovery of incest survivors. (SIA merged with Sexual Abuse Anonymous in 1987.) The criteria for admission make it clear that entry is fine for those with no memories of sexual abuse: “Do you have blocks of your childhood you can’t remember? Do you have a sense that `something happened’?” ( SIA, 1985 ). These and other questions (e.g., Do you have problems with self-confidence and self esteem? Do you feel easily intimidated by authority figures?) are among the set of 20 questions that help a potential survivor decide whether SIA can be of assistance. SIA emphasizes that it is OK not to remember at first, because “Many survivors have `repressed’ actual abuse memories in order to survive.” However, the goal is to remember: “Participating in SIA helps us to remember what happened to us so we can stop being controlled by incest” ( SIA, 1990, p. 1 ).

Although support groups are undoubtedly invaluable for genuine survivors of sexual abuse, as they are for other survivors of extreme situations, such as combat and political persecution ( Herman, 1992, p. 215 ), concerns about the incest survivor groups have been expressed. Do these groups foster the development of constructed memories? An investigative journalist attending a four-day workshop watched the construction of memory at work ( Nathan, 1992 ). With members recounting graphic details of SRA abuse, how long will they listen to the person who can only say “I think I was abused, but I don’t have any memories.” Others have worried in the literature that such groups may induceproto-extension –that is, they actually encourage a troubled person to remember details from other survivor stories as having happened to them as well ( Ellis, 1992 ).

Client accounts.

Another source for suggestions in therapy can be found in client accounts of what happened to them. Recently, clients have been reporting that a therapist has suggested that childhood abuse was the cause of their current distress. However, these clients have no memories of such abuse. One woman from Oregon entered therapy to deal with depression and anxiety, and within a few months her therapist suggested that the cause could be childhood sexual abuse. She wrote asking for help in remembering:

 

Since that time, he has become more and more certain of his diagnosis… I have no direct memories of this abuse…. The question I can’t get past is how something so terrible could have happened to me without me remembering anything. For the past two years I have done little else but try to remember. I’ve tried self-hypnosis and light trance work with my therapist. And I even travelled to childhood homes…in an attempt to trigger memories.

 

 One client revealed the suggestive nature of his therapist’s questioning on ABC’s Primetime Live ( ABC News, 1992 ). Attorney Greg Zimmerman went to a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado, to deal with his father’s suicide. He told ABC, “I would try to talk to her about the things that were very painful in my life and she kept saying that there was something else” (p. 1). Zimmerman grew more and more depressed as the mystery of that “something else” would not unravel, and then, during a therapy session, his therapist stunned him with her diagnosis: “I don’t know how to tell you this, but you display the same kinds of characteristics as some of my patients who are victims of Satanic ritualistic abuse” (p. 1). Zimmerman had said nothing whatsoever to her to provoke this diagnosis, apparently her standard.

It is easy to find published accounts that describe the emergence of memories in therapy and the techniques that therapists have used to uncover those memories (e.g., Bass & Thornton, 1991). One account, written under the pseudonym of Jill Morgan, told of a series of positively horrifying memories of abuse by her father. He raped her when she was 4 years old, again at age 9, once again at age 13, for seven straight days and nights at age 15, and for the final time at age 18. For the next several years, all misery was withheld from conscious memory, and then, at age 29, she was helped to remember in therapy: “Through hypnosis and age regression, a skilled therapist gave me back my memory” (p. 111). The involvement of hypnosis and age regression prompts the natural inquiry into whether these techniques produce authentic memories. Unfortunately, the evidence is discouraging: There is an extensive literature seriously questioning the reliability of hypnotically enhanced memory in general ( Smith, 1983 ), and hypnotic age regression in particular ( Nash, 1987 ). Hypnotic attempts to improve memory increase the confidence in what is recalled more than the accuracy ( Bowers, 1992 ). Even more worrisome is the impossibility of reversing the process; the hypnotically induced memory becomes the person’s reality ( Orne, 1979 ). With hypnotic regression, men and women have been known to recall being abducted by aliens aboard exotic spacecraft and other forgotten events ( Gordon, 1991 ).

A more detailed client account is that of Betsy Petersen (1991), as described in an autobiographical account, Dancing With Daddy. Petersen, a Harvard graduate and accomplished writer, revealed in her first book that she repressed memory of sexual abuse by her father until she was 45 years old. She now remembers sexual abuse from the time she was 3½ until she was 18. Betsy entered therapy (with “Kris”) for problems relating to her children, and almost a year after starting therapy she started worrying, “I’m afraid my father did something to me.” She tried hard to recall, putting “together a scenario of what might have happened” (p. 65). When she told her therapist about this, she said “I don’t know if I made it up or if it’s real.” Kris replied, “It feels like a story to you, because when something like that happens, everybody acts like it didn’t.” Betsy: “You mean it might really have happened!” Kris told her there was a good chance it had happened. Kris told her, in Betsy’s words, “It was consistent with what I remembered about my father and my relationship with him, and with the dreams I had been having, and with the difficulties I had being close to my children, and also, she said, with the feelings I had during and after sex with my husband” (p. 65). Betsy worked hard to retrieve incest memories: “I had no memory of what my father had done to me, so I tried to reconstruct it. I put all my skill–as a reporter, novelist, scholar–to work making that reconstruction as accurate and vivid as possible. I used the memories I had to get to the memories I didn’t have” (p. 66). 10 If accurate, this account tells us something about one therapist’s approach. The therapist convinces the patient with no memories that abuse is likely, and the patient obligingly uses reconstructive strategies to generate memories that would support that conviction. These techniques can be found in numerous autobiographical accounts (see also Smith & Pazder, 1980.

In addition to the first-person accounts, more formal studies of incest survivors provide clues to what might be happening in therapy. One study ( Shaffer & Cozolino, 1992 ) of 20 adults who uncovered ritualistic abuse memories stemming from childhood revealed that the majority sought psychotherapy because of symptoms (e.g., depression and anxiety). The primary focus of their therapy was “the uncovering of memories” (p. 189). The majority participated in 12-step programs (e.g., Incest Survivors Anonymous) as “necessary adjuncts to their psychotherapy” (p. 190). These groups provided substitute families for the clients who had severed ties with their families of origin. Other similar studies of ritualistic abuse rememberers have revealed that most of the victims have no memory of the abuse before therapy (e.g., Driscoll & Wright, 1991) but that techniques such as hypnosis ( Driscoll & Wright, 1991 ) or dreams and artwork (e.g., Young, Sachs, Braun, & Watkins, 1991) were used by therapists to unlock those recalcitrant memories.

Litigation accounts.

Information gathered during litigation is another source of knowledge about the emergence of memories in therapy. Take the case of Patti Barton against her father, John Peters, a successful businessman. 11 Depositions taken in the case of Barton v. Peters (1990) reveal that Patti Barton began therapy with a Dr. CD, a doctor of divinity, in July 1986. Dr. CD’s notes indicate that, during the 32nd session of therapy, Patti expressed “fear her father has sexually tampered with her” (Deposition of CD, April 21, 1991, Barton v. Peters, 1990, p. 39). This was the first time that anything like that had come up in any of the sessions. Shortly thereafter, Patti related a dream that a man was after her. 12 Dr. CD apparently then used the technique of visualization wherein Patti would try to visualize her past. He got her to remember eye surgery at the age of 7 months. As for the abuse, one of the earliest acts of abuse he managed to dredge up with this method occurred when Patti was 15 months old. “I visualized that my father stuck his tongue in my mouth”.

After he stuck his tongue in my mouth–Well, it seemed to last for hours and hours even though I know it didn’t. But it was awful to me and an event that seemed to last for hours. I started crying, and I crawled over to the wall. And I started banging my head on the wall. And my mother came into the room, and she picked me up. And I tried to tell her in baby talk what had happened. I said “Ma, ma, ma, ma,” and I said, “Da, Da, Da, Da” and I said, “Me-e-e-.” And that’s all that I can remember. (Deposition of PB, May 1991, Barton v. Peters, 1990, p. 193)

Later, Patti would remember that her father touched her in her crotch and put his penis in her mouth when she was three years old, and that she stroked his penis over and over at age four. Rape would come later. Patti’s father eventually agreed to give his daughter the deed to a piece of land he owned, but he continued to deny the charges. Her brother, a Baptist minister in Alaska, claimed that Satan’s wicked spirits planted untruths in Patti’s head ( Laker, 1992 ). Did it take 30-some sessions for the therapist to uncover actual memories of abuse, or 30-some sessions for false memories of abuse to begin to be visualized and constructed?

Taped interviews.

Often, confidentiality considerations prevent access to interactions between therapists and clients. However, when cases get into litigation, special interviewing is frequently done, and occasionally it is recorded. Recordings were done in a case implicating a man named Paul Ingram from Olympia, Washington ( Watters, 1991 ). Ingram was arrested for child abuse in 1988, amid expressions of shock from his community. At the time he was chair of the county Republican committee and was chief civil deputy in the sheriff’s office. He had worked in law enforcement for more than a decade.

The Ingram case began at a time when waves of rumor and media hype over satanic ritualistic abuse were rampant. At first Ingram denied everything, and detectives told him he was in denial. With the help of a psychologist who exerted enormous pressure over endless hours of interrogation, Ingram’s memories of abusing his daughter began to appear. Then the psychologist, with the help of a detective, “interviewed” Ingram’s son. In that interview, the son reported on his dreams, and the therapist and detective convinced him that the dreams were real. 13

In another case, a father (Mr. K) hired a private investigator after his 26-year-old daughter reported a recently uncovered repressed memory and accused him of incest. The investigator, acting under cover, went to see the daughter’s therapist complaining that she had night-mares and had trouble sleeping. On the third visit, the therapist told undercover agent that she was an incest survivor. According to the investigator’s report ( Monesi, 1992 ), the therapist said this to her pseudopatient: “She then told me that she was certain I was experiencing body memory from a trauma, earlier in life, that I could not remember. I could not remember because my brain had blocked the memory that was too painful to deal with.” When the patient said she didn’t remember any trauma, the therapist told her “that is the case and many people at far later times in their lives go through this when the memory starts to surface.” The therapist told her that many people go through this experience, such as “Viet Nam Vets, Earthquake Survivors and Incest Survivors.” When the patient said that she had never been in Vietnam or in an earthquake, the therapist nodded her head and said “Yes, I know.” The therapist then said she should read Courage to Heal, a book she recommends to all abuse survivors. After that there was the Courage to Heal Work-book, which tells survivors how to cope with the fears and memories. She pulled Secret Survivors by E. S. Blume (1990) from the shelf, opened the cover, and read the list of symptoms of incest survivors. With two thirds of the symptoms, she would look at the pseudopatient and shake her head yes as if this was confirmation of her diagnosis. She recommended incest survivor groups. In the fourth session, the diagnosis of probable incest victim was confirmed on the basis of the “classic symptoms” of body memory and sleep disorders. When the patient insisted that she had no memory of such events, the therapist assured her this was often the case.

Why Would Therapists Suggest Things to Their Patients?

The core of treatment, it is widely believed, is to help clients reclaim their “traumatic past” ( Rieker & Carmen, 1986, p. 369 ). Therapists routinely dig deliberately into the ugly underbelly of mental life. They dig for memories purposefully because they believe that in order to get well, to become survivors rather than victims, their clients must overcome the protective denial that was used to tolerate the abuse during childhood ( Sgroi, 1989, p. 112 ). Memory blocks can be protective in many ways, but they come at a cost; they cut off the survivors from a significant part of their past histories and leave them without good explanations for their negative self-image, low self-esteem, and other mental problems. These memories must be brought into consciousness, not as an end in itself but only insofar as it helps the survivors acknowledge reality and overcome denial processes that are now dysfunctional (p. 115).

Another reason therapists may be unwittingly suggesting ideas to their clients is that they have fallen prey to a bias that affects all of us, known as the “confirmatory bias” ( Baron, Beattie, & Hershey, 1988 ). People in general, therapists included, have a tendency to search for evidence that confirms their hunches rather than search for evidence that disconfirms. It is not easy to discard long-held or cherished beliefs, in part because we are eager to verify those beliefs and are not inclined to seek evidence that might disprove them.

The notion that the beliefs that individuals hold can create their own social reality is the essence of the self-fulfilling prophecy ( Snyder, 1984 ). How does “reality” get constructed? One way this can happen is through interview strategies. Interviewers are known to choose questions that inquire about behaviors and experiences thought to be characteristic, rather than those thought to be uncharacteristic, of some particular classification. If therapists ask questions that tend to elicit behaviors and experiences thought to be characteristic of someone who had been a victim of childhood trauma, might they too be creating this social reality?

Whatever the good intentions of therapists, the documented examples of rampant suggestion should force us to at least ponder whether some therapists might be suggesting illusory memories to their clients rather than unlocking authentic distant memories. Or, paraphrasing Gardner (1992), what is considered to be present in the client’s unconscious mind might actually be present solely in the therapist’s conscious mind (p. 689). Ganaway (1989) worried that, once seeded by the therapist, false memories could develop that replace previously unsatisfactory internal explanations for intolerable but more prosaic childhood trauma.

Creation of False Memories

The hypothesis that false memories could be created invites an inquiry into the important question of what is known about false memories. Since the mid-1970s at least, investigations have been done into the creation of false memories through exposure to misinformation. Now, nearly two decades later, there are hundreds of studies to support a high degree of memory distortion. People have recalled nonexistent broken glass and tape recorders, a cleanshaven man as having a mustache, straight hair as curly, and even something as large and conspicuous as a barn in a bucolic scene that contained no buildings at all ( Loftus & Ketcham, 1991 ). This growing body of research shows that new, postevent information often becomes incorporated into memory, supplementing and altering a person’s recollection. The new information invades us, like a Trojan horse, precisely because we do not detect its influence. Understanding how we can become tricked by revised data about our past is central to understanding the hypothesis that suggestions from popular writings and therapy sessions can affect autobiographical recall.

One frequently heard comment about the research on memory distortion is that all changes induced by misinformation are about trivial details ( Darnton, 1991; Franklin & Wright, 1991 ). There is no evidence, the critics allege, that one can tinker with memories of real traumatic events or that one can inject into the human mind whole events that never happened.

 Can Real Traumatic Memories Be Changed?

There are some who argue that traumatic events leave some sort of indelible fixation in the mind (e.g., “traumatic events create lasting visual images…burned-in visual impressions,” Terr, 1988, p. 103; “memory imprints are indelible, they do not erase–a therapy that tries to alter them will be uneconomical,” Kantor, 1980, p. 163). These assertions fail to recognize known examples and evidence that memory is malleable even for life’s most traumatic experiences. If Eileen Franklin’s memory of witnessing her father murder her eight-year-old best friend is a real memory, then it too is a memory replete with changes over different tellings. However, there are clearer examples–anecdotal reports in which definite evidence exists that the traumatic event itself was actually experienced and yet the memory radically changed.

In the category of documented anecdotes there is the example of one of the worst public and personal tragedies in the history of baseball ( Anderson, 1990; described in Loftus & Kaufman, 1992 ). Baseball aficionados may recall that Jack Hamilton, then a pitcher with the California Angels, crushed the outfielder, Tony Conigliaro, in the face with a first-pitch fastball. Although Hamilton thought he remembered this horrible event perfectly, he misremembered it as occurring during a day game, when it was actually at night, and misremembered it in other critical ways. Another example will be appreciated by history buffs, particularly those with an interest in the second world war. American Brigadier General Elliot Thorpe recalled the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor one way in a memoir and completely differently in an oral history taken on his retirement. Both accounts, in fact, were riddled with errors ( Weintraub, 1991 ).

Evidence of a less anecdotal, more experimental nature supports the imperfections of personally experienced traumatic memories. For example, one study examined people’s recollections of how they heard the news of the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger ( Harsch & Neisser, 1989; Neisser & Harsch, 1992 ). Subjects were questioned on the morning after the explosion and again nearly three years later. Most described their memories as vivid, but none of them were entirely correct, and more than one third were wildly inaccurate. One subject, for example, was on the telephone having a business discussion when her best friend interrupted the call with the news. Later she would remember that she heard the news in class and at first thought it was a joke, and that she later walked into a TV lounge and saw the news, and then reacted to the disaster.

Another study ( Abhold, 1992 ) demonstrated the malleability of memory for a serious life-and-death situation. The subjects had attended an important high school football game at which a player on the field went into cardiac arrest. Paramedics tried to resuscitate the player and apparently failed. The audience reactions ranged from complete silence, to sobbing, to screaming. (Ultimately, fortunately, the player was revived at the hospital.) Six years later, many of these people were interviewed. Errors of recollection were common. Moreover, when exposed to misleading information about this life-and-death event, many individuals absorbed the misinformation into their recollections. For example, more than one fourth of the subjects were persuaded that they had seen blood on the player’s jersey after receiving a false suggestion to this effect.

These anecdotes and experimental examples suggest that even details of genuinely experienced traumatic events are, as Christianson (1992) put it, “by no means, completely accurate” (p. 207).

Can One Inject a Complete Memory for Something That Never Happened?

It is one thing to discover that memory for an actual traumatic event is changed over time but quite another to show that one can inject a whole event into someone’s mind for something that never happened. There are numerous anecdotes and experimental studies that show it is indeed possible to lead people to construct entire events.

Piaget’s memory.

Whole memories can be implanted into a person’s real-life autobiography, as is best shown by Piaget’s classic childhood memory of an attempted kidnapping ( Piaget, 1962; described in Loftus & Ketcham, 1991, p. 19 ). The false memories were with him for at least a decade. The memory was of an attempted kidnapping that occurred when he was an infant. He found out it was false when his nanny confessed years later that she had made up the entire story and felt guilty about keeping the watch she had received as a reward. In explaining this false memory, Piaget assumed, “I, therefore, must have heard, as a child, the account of this story, which my parents believed, and projected into the past in the form of a visual memory.”

Loud noises at night.

Although widely disseminated and impressive at first glance, Piaget’s false memory is still but a single anecdote and subject to other interpretations. Was this really a memory, or an interesting story? Could it be that the assault actually happened and the nurse, for some inexplicable reason, lied later? For these reasons it would be nice to find stronger evidence that a false memory for a complete event was genuinely implanted.

An apparently genuine 19th-century memory implantation was reported by Laurence and Perry (1983) : Bernheim, during hypnosis, suggested to a female subject that she had awakened four times during the previous night to go to the toilet and had fallen on her nose on the fourth occasion. After hypnosis, the woman insisted that the suggested events had actually occurred, despite the hypnotist’s insistence that she had dreamed them. Impressed by Bernheim’s success, and by explorations by Orne (1979), Laurence and Perry asked 27 highly hypnotizable individuals during hypnosis to choose a night from the previous week and to describe their activities during the half hour before going to sleep. The subjects were then instructed to relive that night, and a suggestion was implanted that they had heard some loud noises and had awakened. Almost one half (13) of the 27 subjects accepted the suggestion and stated after hypnosis that the suggested event had actually taken place. Of the 13, 6 were unequivocal in their certainty. The remainder came to the conclusion on basis of reconstruction. Even when told that the hypnotist had actually suggested the noises, these subjects still maintained that the noises had occurred. One said “I’m pretty certain I heard them. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty damned certain. I’m positive I heard these noises” ( Laurence & Perry, 1983, p. 524 ).

The paradigm of inducing pseudomemories of being awakened by loud noises has now been used extensively by other researchers who readily replicate the basic findings. Moreover, the pseudomemories are not limited to hypnotic conditions. Simply inducing subjects to imagine and describe the loud noises resulted in later “memories” for noises that had never occurred ( Weekes, Lynn, Green, & Brentar, 1992 ).

Other false memories.

Other evidence shows that people can be tricked into believing that they experienced an event even in the absence of specific hypnotic suggestions. For example, numerous studies have shown that people misremember that they voted in a particular election when they actually had not ( Abelson, Loftus, & Greenwald, 1992 ). One interpretation of these findings is that people fill in the gaps in their memory with socially desirable constructions, thus creating for themselves a false memory of voting.

In other studies, people have been led to believe that they witnessed assaultive behavior when in fact they did not (e.g., Haugaard, Reppucci, Laurd, & Nauful, 1991). In this study, children aged four to seven years were led to believe that they saw a man hit a girl, when he had not, after hearing the girl lie about the assault. Not only did they misrecall the nonexistent hitting, but they added their own details: Of 41 false claims, 39 children said it happened near a pond, 1 said it was at the girl’s house, and 1 could not specify exactly where the girl was when the man hit her.

Violent false memories

People can hold completely false memories for something far more traumatic than awakening at night, voting in a particular election, or a simulation involving a man and a girl. Pynoos and Nader (1989) studied children’s recollections of a sniper attack at an elementary school playground. Some of the children who were interviewed were not at the school during the shooting, including some who were already on the way home or were on vacation. Yet, even the nonwitnesses had memories:

One girl initially said that she was at the school gate nearest the sniper when the shooting began. In truth she was not only out of the line of fire, she was half a block away. A boy who had been away on vacation said that he had been on his way to the school, had seen someone lying on the ground, had heard the shots, and then turned back. In actuality, a police barricade prevented anyone from approaching the block around the school. (p. 238)

The memories apparently were created by exposure to the stories of those who truly experienced the trauma.

Memories of being lost.

A question arises as to whether one could experimentally implant memories for nonexistent events that, if they had occurred, would have been traumatic. Given the need to protect human subjects, devising a means of accomplishing this was not an easy task. Loftus and Coan (in press), however, developed a paradigm for instilling a specific childhood memory for being lost on a particular occasion at the age of five. They chose getting lost because it is clearly a great fear of both parents and children. Their initial observations show how subjects can be readily induced to believe this kind of false memory. The technique involved a subject and a trusted family member who played a variation of “Remember the time that….?” To appreciate the methodology, consider the implanted memory of 14-year-old Chris. Chris was convinced by his older brother, Jim, that he had been lost in a shopping mall when he was 5 years old. Jim told Chris this story as if it were the truth: “It was 1981 or 1982. I remember that Chris was 5. We had gone shopping at the University City shopping mall in Spokane. After some panic, we found Chris being led down the mall by a tall, oldish man (I think he was wearing a flannel shirt). Chris was crying and holding the man’s hand. The man explained that he had found Chris walking around crying his eyes out just a few mements before and was trying to help him find his parents.”

Just two days later, Chris recalled his feelings about being lost: “That day I was so scared that I would never see my family again. I knew that I was in trouble.” On the third day, he recalled a conversation with his mother: “I remember mom telling me never to do that again.” On the fourth day: “I also remember that old man’s flannel shirt.” On the fifth day, he started remembering the mall itself: “I sort of remember the stores.” In his last recollection, he could even remember a conversation with the man who found him: “I remember the man asking me if I was lost.”

It would be natural to wonder whether perhaps Chris had really gotten lost that day. Maybe it happened, but his brother forgot. But Chris’s mother was subjected to the same procedure and was never able to remember the false event. After five days of trying, she said “I feel very badly about it, but I just cannot remember anything like this ever happening.”

A couple of weeks later, Chris described his false memory and he greatly expanded on it.

 

I was with you guys for a second and I think I went over to look at the toy store, the Kay-bee toy and uh, we got lost and I was looking around and I thought, “Uh-oh. I’m in trouble now.” You know. And then I…I thought I was never going to see my family again. I was really scared you know. And then this old man, I think he was wearing a blue flannel, came up to me…he was kind of old. He was kind of bald on top…he had like a ring of gray hair…and he had glasses.

Thus, in two short weeks, Chris now could even remember the balding head and the glasses worn by the man who rescued him. He characterized his memory as reasonably clear and vivid.

Finally, Chris was debriefed. He was told that one of the memories presented to him earlier had been false. When asked to guess, he guessed one of the genuine memories. When told that it was the getting-lost memory, he said, “Really? I thought I remembered being lost…and looking around for you guys. I do remember that. And then crying. And mom coming up and saying ‘Where were you. Don’t you…Don’t you ever do that again.'”

A false memory of abuse.

The lost-in-a-shopping-mall example shows that memory of an entire mildly traumatic event can be created. It is still natural to wonder whether one could go even further and implant a memory of abuse. Ethically, of course, it would not be possible, but anecdotally, as it happens, it was done. It is one of the most dramatic cases of false memory of abuse ever to be documented–the case of Paul Ingram from Olympia, Washington ( Ofshe, 1992; Watters, 1991 ). As described above, Ingram, was arrested for child abuse in 1988 at the time he was chair of the county Republican committee. At first Ingram denied everything, and detectives told him he was in denial. After five months of interrogation, suggestions from a psychologist, and continuing pressure from detectives and advisors, Ingram began to confess to rapes, assaults, child sexual abuse, and participation in a Satan-worshiping cult alleged to have murdered 25 babies ( Ofshe, 1992 ). To elicit specific memories, the psychologist or detectives would suggest some act of abuse (e.g., that on one occasion, Ingram and several other men raped his daughter). Ingram would at first not remember these fragments, but after a concerted effort on his part, he would later come up with a detailed memory.

Richard Ofshe, a social psychologist hired by the prosecution to interview Ingram and his family members, decided to test Ingram’s credibility. Ofshe had made up a completely fabricated scenario. He told Ingram that two of his children (a daughter and a son) had reported that Ingram had forced them to have sex in front of him. As with the earlier suggestions, Ingram at first could not remember this. But Ofshe urged Ingram to try to think about the scene and try to see it happening, just as the interrogators had done to him earlier. Ingram began to get some visual images. Ingram then followed Ofshe’s instructions to “pray on” the scene and try to remember more over the next few hours. Several hours later, Ingram had developed detailed memories and wrote a three-page statement confessing in graphic detail to the scene that Ofshe had invented ( Ofshe, 1992 ;Watters, 1991 ). Ofshe (1989, 1992) noted that this was not the first time that a vulnerable individual had been made to believe that he had committed a crime for which he originally had no memory and which evidence proved he could not have committed. What is crucial about the Ingram case is that some of the same methods that are used in repressed memory cases were used with Ingram. These include the use of protracted imagining of events and authority figures establishing the authenticity of these events.

These examples provide further insights into the malleable nature of memory. They suggest that memories for personally experience traumatic events can be altered by new experiences. Moreover, they reveal that entire events that never happened can be injected into memory. The false memories range from the relatively trivial (e.g., remembering voting) to the bizarre (e.g., remembering forcing one’s daughter and son to have sex). These false memories, with more or less detail, of course do not prove that repressed memories of abuse that return are false. They do demonstrate a mechanism by which false memories can be created by a small suggestion from a trusted family member, by hearing someone lie, by suggestion from a psychologist, or by incorporation of the experiences of others into one’s own autobiography. Of course, the fact that false memories can be planted tells nothing about whether a given memory of child sexual abuse is false or not; nor does it tell how one might distinguish the real cases from the false ones. These findings on the malleability of memory do, however, raise questions about the wisdom of certain recommendations being promoted in self-help workbooks, in handbooks for therapists, and by some therapists themselves. The false memories created in the examples above were accomplished with techniques that are not all that different from what some therapists regularly do–suggesting that the client was probably abused because of some vague symptoms, labeling a client’s ambiguous recollections as evidence of abuse, and encouraging mental exercises that involve fantasy merging with reality.

What does this mean in relation to Wade Robson? For the moment, we’ll just give him benefit of the doubt and assume that maybe he, at least, genuinely believes he is having repressed memories of abuse. We know from reports that he supposedly suffered his breakdown-or the beginning of it-in 2010.  It’s certainly conceivable that an aggressive therapist, already familiar with Wade’s history as a friend of Michael Jackson’s-could have planted the idea of repressed memories and could have worked to extract those “memories.” If Robson was in a vulnerable state, he certainly could have been susceptible to the planting of false memories-except in that case, it wouldn’t explain why he then went on to pay glowing tribute to his mentor in July of 2011, when the breakdown and resultant therapy supposedly occurred in March of 2011! (It’s hard to keep track of the dates, however, as they keep changing conveniently to suit the story!). Note, however, that at the time  Robson is speaking here, praising his mentor and his “essence” that he had supposedly already started the therapy that had unleashed his repressed memories of abuse! At the very least, he was supposedly already suffering his breakdown here. Hmm. All I can say is, he looks pretty cool and collected here to me!

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElQQeUIyU0w[/tube]

It gets better. This interview was from 2012. Watch how utterly at ease he is talking about Michael and their friendship here, supposedly five months after beginning therapy and the resurfacing of his repressed memories!

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWazdCJxTFI[/tube]

And watch how coolly he shoots down d**kwad Jimmy Kimmel back in 2003!

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCOiY0r0hRs[/tube]

This might be an interesting time to look at a recent statement made by body language expert Craig Baxter, whose book on Michael’s body language, “Behind The Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Had To Tell The World” has become an Amazon best seller. Granted, body language is no more an exact science than repressed memory, and I am in no way endorsing or suggesting this as infallible proof. But I do think it’s very interesting what Baxter had to say in regards to the above videos from Wade Robson:

I have been inundated with messages to cover Wade Robson’s body language in relation to his recent claims that Michael Jackson sexually abused him for 7 years.

I have watched many videos of Wade talking positively about Michael and I see no hidden or concealed emotions. I see NO flashes of disgust, anger, fear, contempt or any other negative emotion linked with the abuse he now claims. Furthermore, I see no other body language behaviour correlated with anxiety or stress. In… my opinion, if Wade had been sexual assaulted by Michael, there would be an abundance of behavioural leakage. There is N-O-N-E.

“I hope the evidence I have presented in my book will prove Michael’s doubters to be wrong, as there is an overwhelming body of evidence that shows Michael to be innocent in every sense of the word.” < This is final sentence I wrote in my book about Michael Jackson. The sooner the world realises this the better.

Kind regards,
CJB

https://www.facebook.com/cjbaxx

 

It Was The Highest Grossing North American Tour Of 2012...And Wade Robson Was Out!
It Was The Highest Grossing North American Tour Of 2012…And Wade Robson Was Out!

For the moment, I want to return to Robson’s 2011 vid discussing the Cirque du Soleil show. Let’s ask the logical question: If you had suddenly remembered that this person abused you-not once or twice, but repeatedly over a seven year period, would you want to be involved with a multi-million dollar production that is glorifying your abuser?

Well, maybe. If you were getting to be said director of such production. Except that never happened, either.  That gig went to Jamie King (also directing the current Michael Jackson One Cirque show, and who also replaced Robson on the Britney Spears Circus tours).

“But here’s the rub.  A spokesperson for the Michael Jackson Estate — which produced the Cirque du Soleil show — tells TMZ … Robson was “on the list of choreographers but his son got sick and he wasn’t used.”  The spokesperson said there was never a contract between Wade and the show.”

And it has not escaped the notice of some that Robson (or his attorney, more aptly) filed the claim on the same day as the opening of the One show. Hmm. Kind of begs the question: Could this have possibly been the motivation behind the suspicious timing of the claim, and not the AEG trial, as so many have suspected? Or is there still a connection? While it seems plausible, it doesn’t explain the motivation for the two, other alleged claims that has been hinted by at least one tabloid source.  So what exactly is going on? Obviously, some force is behind this latest rash of “claims.” I do not buy for an instant that three perfectly grown men have suddenly had a rash of repressed memories, all bubbling forth simultaneously.

That being said, the possibility had always been in my mind that, at some point, someone might try something like this. It’s a crying shame, considering that a dead man should be allowed to rest in peace. In my estimation, this is lower than anything the Chandlers or Arvizos ever did. At least, they brought their allegations when Michael was alive to defend himself-and when some type of real justice (provided the accusations had been true) could have been carried out. Although as pointed out in the article I quoted above, civil litigation is sometimes encouraged by therapists as a way for victims to reclaim ownership of what happened to them, the unique circumstances in this case just makes the whole thing very, very suspect. The person being accused is deceased; there is no chance for criminal justice, and no chance of a defense. Michael isn’t here to deny the charges. His estate, meanwhile, is generating money hands over fist. And Michael Jackson is an easy target, since there is still a lot of public doubt and speculation regarding past allegations.

The simple fact is, these days it doesn’t really matter whether Michael is/was guilty or innocent. The accusation alone is sufficient, for it is the accusation that will guarantee Robson the attention and the results he wants. Those who want to believe Michael was a pedophile and child molestor, and already have their minds made up regardless, will believe it, anyway. It will guarantee maximum negative publicity, which is something we know the estate doesn’t want. Therefore, if we are thinking the way any logical extortionist would think, we might conclude: Paydirt. Either the estate is going to give me what I want, to make this go away, or I will make such a stink that they wish they had.

We don’t know how this will turn out until it goes before the probate judge, who of course may still toss the whole thing out unless he/she buys into the repressed memory excuse. Otherwise, the statute of limitations has long expired on Robson. At any rate, the absolute worst thing the estate could do would be to pay this guy a dime. If they do, they are only setting a precedent for many more bogus such claims to come out of the woodwork (as the Daily Star reported, those other two so-called allegations waiting in the wings are doing just that…that is, waiting to see how the Robson case pans out. Let’s translate: They are waiting to see if, ultimately, there is any pay out!).

And speaking of setting a precedent, that is definitely something that needs to be discussed in more detail, and which will be in upcoming installments. If I’ve heard the phrase “Where there is smoke, there must be fire” one time, I’ve heard it a million since this story broke. But what the average layperson fails to take into account is the unique history of how the first set of allegations made against Michael Jackson paved the way for a trail of “phantom” cases and bogus, “phantom victims.” The reputation that unfortunately dogged Michael after (and even before) the Chandler case made such accusations all too easy to pull off. It didn’t even particularly matter if the claims could be disproven; for many, simply making the accusations could mean a huge payoff in terms of media attention and lucrative offers from tabloids. If you’re not familiar with the long trail of phantom victims and bogus claims from those who have unsuccessfully tried to set Michael Jackson up through the years, then just wait until we get to Part 5…it will boggle your mind! The simple truth is that, at this point, Wade Robson doesn’t even have to have his own memories or his own story to make a semi-credible case for himself. With so much detail of the Chandler and Arvizo cases being public record, all he has to do is parrot the details of those cases; maybe twist a few details around here and there, and he will have a perfectly believable story to sell. And those prone to believing Michael was guilty will simply see it as evidence of a repeated pattern, rather than questioning the source of his information.

Regardless of what happens with this debtor’s claim, Robson may well end up with a substantial payoff, just in terms of the offers he will get to speak to the tabloids. It’s an established fact that the tabloid magazines and news shows will pay big bucks for anyone willing to make up dirt on Michael Jackson. Whether the story is true or not has never been a matter for concern. Michael’s former maid Blanca Francia was offered $20,000 to lie outright for Hard Copy. When I interviewed Michael’s artist friend David Nordahl in 2010, he spoke of having been offered as much as $25,000 by the tabloids and media.

Nordahl says he was constantly bombarded by tabloid and media requests, some even offering up to as much as “$25,000″ to “dish dirt” on Michael. True or not, it didn’t matter. “They would want to know who the kids in the paintings were, what their names were,” he said. “Well, we couldn’t give them any names, because none of the kids really existed. They were all made up.”

(That interview in its entirety is still on the OldAllforloveblog website, but the link may be currently down; however you can also read it here:
 
Wade’s own mother, Joy Robson, was reportedly offered a six-figure sum from The National Enquirer to change her story and claim that Michael Jackson had molested her son. She was also approached and bribed by Victor Guiterrez, according to Jermaine Jackson’s book You Are Not Alone. The following is an excerpt from sanemjfan’s latest post on Michael Jackson Vindication 2.0 (and who, btw, is also posting the entire transcript of Robson’s 2005 testimony, as well as that of his mother and sister Chantal):

The below commentary is from sanemjfan:

Before we get to her testimony, I want to share an interesting tidbit of information from Jermaine Jackson’s book “You Are Not Alone”; on page 155 , he briefly describes how Joy was approached by a “journalist” name Victor Gutierrez in 1992. He was conducting an “investigation” to prove his suspicions that Jackson was a pedophile, and after meeting with Gutierrez, Joy immediately phoned Jackson’s office:

Excerpt from Jermaine's book about VG approaching Joy Robson, part 1

Gutierrez published the trash book “Michael Jackson Was My Lover” overseas, but was unable to get a US publisher to distribute it after he lost a multi-million dollar slander lawsuit against Jackson in 1997. Throughout the book, Gutierrez wrote about his interactions with Joy Robson and other associates of Jackson (including the Chandlers), but fortunately his book was fact checked by using Joy’s testimony in this aptly post titled “Joy Robson vs. Victor Gutierrez: The Truth against Lies”. There are almost two dozen posts that have been written to refute the lies of Victor Gutierrez (that number of posts is indicative of how instrumental he was in Jackson’s downfall), and you can see them all here.

Not only did Joy reject any money that Victor Gutierrez offered her, but she also turned down a six figure bounty from the National Enquirer! Here is an exceprt from page 159 of Jermaine’s book:

Joy Robson turned down money from National Enquirer to lie on MJ

It’s really unbelievable that Joy would turn down money from the tabloids and reject Victor Gutierrez’s assertions during Jackson’s darkest hour, yet all of a sudden do a complete 180 degree turnaround and support her son (in my opinion, he silence so far is a sign of support for her son).

http://michaeljacksonvindication2.wordpress.com/

Joy Robson and the rest of her family defending Michael in 1993:

[tube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLT3gncZW2k[/tube]

Just to add my own two cents to what sanemjfan wrote above, it really doesn’t bother me what Chantal or Joy have to say about this-or not, as the case may be. They are Wade’s family, so I would expect that they would support him. I bear them no particular enmity. They weren’t the ones who made this claim; that was solely Wade’s own doing. This time-unlike the Chandler and Arvizo cases, where the “accusers” were minors and their parents the ones who were largely orchestrating things-we have an adult who is acting solely of his own accord. I am sure that Wade’s family may be going through their own shock at this bomb Wade has dropped, and may not be quite sure how to deal with it. So for now, at least, I am not concerning myself too much with them. I will, however, keep an eye on their future words and actions. I am sure they are once again getting offers from tabloids, so we’ll see if Joy Robson maintains the same integrity she has displayed in the past. In upcoming installments, I will be looking at some of both her and Chantal’s court testimony, as well as Wade’s (remember, Robson has sworn under oath-twice!-that nothing inappropriate ever happened!).

Will The REAL Wade Robson Please Stand Up?
Will The REAL Wade Robson Please Stand Up?

The big question that remains is…will the real Wade Robson ever stand up? Which one do we believe, the old, reliable 1989-2011 version that we all grew to believe and know so well, or this new (and not so  improved) 2013 version who has suddenly become a stranger to us-someone we thought we knew, but apparently did not? (Perhaps we never did).

In upcoming installments, I am going to be addressing several issues. Of course, this is still a developing story, so as with all SIP’s (that’s stories in progress!) I have to allow some flexibility to accomodate those developments. But among the things I will be looking at in more depth in upcoming installments will be: 1. The psychological (and misunderstood)nature of Michael’s relationships with children, which is really where this all begins; 2. Michael’s relationship with the Robson family, and how it compares to other families he befriended; 3. Wade’s staunch, adamant, and nearly 20-year-defense of Michael (so what the heck was that all about if he really believes what he’s saying now?); 4. How the pattern of this case follows the ones that have gone before-and why that may actually vindicate Michael; 5. The peculiar and unique history of the allegations made against Michael (why he’s been targeted so often, and why so many bogus/phantom cases), and 6: What the future and implications of this latest claim may mean-regardless of what a judge decides.

Given how closely entwined these topics are, I expect there will be lots of overlapping, but that’s okay. None of these can exist in isolation, as they all form an essential role in understanding what is happening-and more importantly, in arriving at some sense of just what the heck is really going on here.

UPDATE: 5/15/13: We may just have the answer to the question, What the heck is really going on? Answer: Wade Robson has lost his frickin’ mind! Now he has apparently decided that his debtor’s claim isn’t enough. In what has to be one of the most weirdly bizarre and unprecedented cases in recent history, Robson has decided to sue a dead man-or at the very least, it seems, every profitable entity connected with him! TMZ broke the story today. As a rule, I don’t link to TMZ or any of the trashier tabloids, but since TMZ seem to be the ones breaking these stories and updates exclusively, there isn’t much of a way to avoid them, unfortunately.

Here was the story TMZ reported:

Wade Robson WILL have his day in court in his attempt to prove he was molested by Michael Jackson … even if he’s shut down by the Michael Jackson Estate.

TMZ has learned … Robson has filed a civil lawsuit in L.A. County Superior Court … and it has nothing to do with his creditor’s claim against the Estate. We broke the story … Robson belatedly filed his creditor’s claim, alleging MJ molested him between the ages of 7 and 14.

Robson may get shut down by the probate judge because he waited too long to file his claim.  But the civil lawsuit we found will NOT go away that easily.

The allegations in the civil lawsuit are sealed, but TMZ has obtained the face page of the complaint, which shows Robson is suing DOE 1, an individual, DOE 2, a California corporation, and DOE 3, a California corporation.  As for who these anonymous DOES are … TMZ has done some digging, and it’s clear.  Robson is targeting MJJ Productions — Michael’s record label (owned by Sony) which hired Wade when he was 11 — and MJJ Ventures … which produced Michael’s music videos.
0515-wade-robson-tmz-pull-out
The two corporations may have been involved in bringing Wade to the U.S. from his home in Australia, and it’s clear Wade will argue they had some responsibility for protecting him — kind of like the relationship between priests who molest and the Catholic Church.

As for the individual DOES (Wade names 50 DOES) … it’s very clear from our research that Robson is targeting the two executors of the MJ Estate — John Branca and John McClain.

Short story — even if Wade loses in probate court, he can probably have his day in civil court and put Michael Jackson and allegations of molestation before a jury.

And-just as I predicted here yesterday-Wade is apparently planning to do the media circuit, kicking off with an interview on The Today Show scheduled for 5/16. TMZ posted this video of him  arriving at JFK airport, ostensibly for his Today Show interview. In the comment section, we were discussing Wade’s body language here as compared to many of the earlier videos posted here, where he was still adamantly defending Michael as his friend. I am going to say that after watching this vid twice, I have somewhat reassessed my earlier opinion. I don’t think he has the same, calm and easy demeanor as in those earlier videos-and certainly none of the sincerity. He seems curt, angry, and evasive. Yes, dealing with paparazzi is annoying, but all the same, something just seems very off about Wade now. To me, his very demeanor now comes across as someone with something to hide, and as someone with malicious, ulterior motives. Dare I say it? He just looks like a snake in the grass here!

This seems a really good time to call attention back to this, and redouble our efforts to get this passed!

http://www.cadeflaw.com/

http://www.petitiononline.com/MJJ2010/petition.html

UPDATE: 5/16/13: Wade’s TODAY SHOW interview and my analysis of it: (Note: I am no Craig Baxter, but I’m going to give a good stab at it, anyway! Hopefully, Baxter -the REAL body language expert-will be weighing in shortly).

However, let’s note already that Robson has dropped a huge bombshell, in having publicly recanted his “repressed memory” defense. Well, good for you, Wade! We knew it was baloney, so at least you came to your senses on that one. But…where does this leave his credibility now?

Since the show’s airing and the posting of the vid this morning, I’ve been reading various amateur attempts at analysis (and admittedly, mine is one more amateur attempt to add to the growing list). But I want to caution against placing too much emphasis on things like eye contact and breaking gaze. These things can mean someone is lying. But they can also be signs of intense concentration or a kind of defense mechanism when speaking on a subject that is emotionally distressing.

However, Wade’s entire demeanor here seems to me incredibly calculated and rehearsed-far more than he ever appeared in all of his videos praising Michael, which seemed to derive from a naturally bubbly personality and the easy, spontaneity of truth.

That is gone now. THIS Wade appears calculated and restrained, and under duress. (The duress of his lie? Fear of its repercussions? Guilt? Fear of not living up to his coaches/sponsors? Or the strain of bearing the burden of truth? It could well be all of these; I’ll explain more in due order).

I do sense a lot of anger in Wade. I believe the stories of the breakdown are true. But just who is he angry at, and why? Well, if we could get to the heart of that, we could certainly get to the heart of this whole mystery.

There are a couple of very obvious stress triggers for Wade in this interview: Any mention of money, his coaching story, and when pressed directly about his feelings for Michael-then and now. I think it would be fair to say that his interview represents a mixed bag of lies and truth. But how to separate which is which?

At 1:54 Robson is asked how he feels. His statement, “I feel strong” is a huge contradiction between words and body language, and to me is at the core of everything that is wrong and “off” about him in this interview. He is not feeling strong or confident at all; quite the contrary, his body language and entire demeanor is that of someone feeling very vulnerable and unsure of himself. Ever hear the phrase squirming? I believe wholeheartedly this is a man squirming inside.  He keeps a very defensive pose throughout the interview, with legs crossed and body posture very rigid. This is a sign of extreme discomfort. Since Wade is already a public figure, and has been for much of his life, we can’t attribute this to nerves, so obviously it is the discomfort with the subject at hand.Now, possibly, there are two ways to read into this. One could be that he is under duress because he is lying, and knows it. Another “possible” explanation could be that coming out the other end of a traumatic ordeal, such as a complete emotional breakdown, can leave one feeling drained and devoid of animation. It’s too close to call which it might be, but I would reason to guess that Wade HAS been through some sort of trauma in the past year, and it has either left him  shell shocked OR has just completely transformed him into a bitter, lying jackass. Take your pick.

What does he mean by “MY truth?” His sister Chantal used that same choice of words on her FB page.

Here is something Wade would have learned from his idol MJ: When Michael released his album “HIStory” there was a reason that the emphasis was placed on “HIS,” giving the title an instant double meaning-or additional layer of meaning. History, in essence, is written by the conquerors. History is a narrative written by others, of past events that have shaped us into who we are. But in emphasizing “HIS” Michael was personalizing the story to say, “This is MY history and MY story.” It remains to this day one of the most clever album titles in all the “history” of pop music.

But it can also be a very neat way to circumvent truth. After all, no one can invalidate one’s personal truth because truth is always in the eye of the beholder. A child, for example, may recall an event completely differently from the way the adults around him remember it. Does that, then, make the child’s version invalid? Or the adults’? No. It is simply two versions of the same truth, or the same reality-but viewed differently because the perceptions of an adult are vastly different from those of a child. A house that looks incredibly small to an adult may, for example, appear incredibly large to a small child. You get the idea.

If Wade Robson says, “This is my truth,” who is going to argue that? I think his words are coming from a complete knowledge and understanding that, from this moment going forward, there are going to be two distinct versions of this “truth”-the one he puts out vs. what the fans of Michael and his proponents will continue to put out to deflect him, not to mention the attorneys down the road who will rip him under cross examination.  By phrasing it as “my truth” he is getting an early edge on the uphill battle against his credibility that he knows is coming.

It can also be read as a defiant statement against what the rest of the world thinks. Either way, he is making his phrasing very deliberate in order to circumvent the tough questions to his credibility that are surely coming.

It’s like trying to argue with a class of freshmen in English 102 that everyone’s interpretation of a piece of literature has validity…to a point. But then, at some point, you have to be able to back your claim. If you don’t have the evidence to back it up, your entire thesis/hypothesis will fall through. Same thing here.

Wade is asked about his 2005 testimony. Here is where he drops the ball completely and admits this was never an issue of repressed memory. But here is a huge problem for Wade. His own attorney has already made the statement to the press that this was a case of repressed memory! He has doctors who have already sworn to repressed memory as the entire basis of his claim! And basically, by admitting now that it was not repressed memory and that he was always aware of what was happening to him (alleging anything “did” happen), he is confessing that-as a fully competent adult in 2005-he knowingly committed perjury on the witness stand!

Either way, his credibility is shot because the way any judge is going to look at this case is: This guy either lied big time-twice!-under oath, and once as a fully competent adult, OR he is lying now. In either event, it puts his credibility into dire question.

I wanted to share with you a kick-ass comment I read from GlitterySocks on the Positively Michael forum (the underlined emphasis is mine):

I hope that people are not conflating the issues you mentioned with the facts at hand. Here, the facts at hand are that 1) his lawyer said that it is a repressed memory, and 2) that is what the case is built on. This is the entire psychological phenomenon that they used as a basis to be eligible for this late filing, and to explain the discrepancies in his 2005 testimony. Surely Wade was complicit with this assessment prior to filing– I would imagine that extensive tests and analysis occurred before deciding to go forward with this lawsuit. Doctors are involved in this case based on the repressed memory theory and lawyer statements have been made to the public (ie-potential judge and jurors). Now this incredibly critical point is suddenly dismissed and it is a case built on something else entirely (and which may not be eligible for a late filing). 

I do not see how any judge or jury will ever be able to ascertain if this man is ever telling the truth about anything.

http://www.positivelymichael.com/forums/showthread.php?39483-Wade-Robson-files-child-molestation-claim/page27

 

The problem is that, regardless of whether this is being treated as a civil matter of a debtor’s claim, the statute of limitations isn’t that easily circumvented. And Wade has just effectively shot down whatever slim chance he had on the repressed memory angle-not to mention having called his entire history of credibility into serious questioning!

Wade’s next uncomfortable trigger is when pressed about his 2005 testimony. He waivers visibly under any direct questions regarding money or this alleged “coaching” from Michael Jackson. Here is why I have a very hard time buying his coaching story: He states very specifically that after the Chandler allegations broke, Michael would call him every day and they would role play, rehearsing what Wade was to say.

For starters, Michael would have been way too smart to be having such phone conversations with ANY kid at ANY time, but especially after 1993! Michael was all too aware that anything said in a phone conversation could be taped at any time, by anybody, and used against him. As a celebrity, he was always aware of the threat of extortion; and over the years, as his mistrust increased, he would have been extra careful to not put himself in such a vulnerable and incriminating position.

Of course, given the nature of what he was being accused of, and its dire seriousness-and knowing full well that his young friends would be questioned and even grilled, it might have been understandable that Michael may have coached him in some regard about what to say; after all, even a true statement from a child can be misconstrued by an over zealous attorney or investigator. So perhaps it might be plausible  Michael did coach him, but I don’t buy that these sessions occurred over the phone, and certainly not every day.

Wade breaks his gaze and shifts when asked directly about what Michael did to him. Of course, that again could be read two ways: Shame and embarrassment with discussing such a private issue, or lying. It seemed to me that he was almost fishing for a plausible response that would sound honest enough without making him sound as if he was totally throwing Michael under the bus (even though, of course, he was doing just that!). It is interesting that the information he did share sounded suspiciously like Jordan Chandler’s interview with Dr. Gardner. Again, this “could” be proof of a pattern, but just as likely, could also mean nothing more than that Wade is familiar with these sources. Take it for what it’s worth.

And just to reiterate a very powerful comment I saw on TMZ, “Michael wasn’t role playing with him for the last three years!”

And let’s go back to this point, which can’t be stressed enough: Wade Robson was a 22-year-old ADULT when he testified in 2005. If he was being manipulated, he was freely and willingly allowing himself to be manipulated!

No, here is the straight and skinny on that. He was either being completely truthful in 2005, OR:

He is a stinking, lying piece of offal who thoroughly enjoyed having sex with MJ, loved it, loved Michael, and loved what Michael was doing for him, and loved him even into adulthood, so much that he was perfectly willing to throw Gavin Arvizo and the others under the bus…and is just as willing now to throw Michael under that bus with him. (And isn’t it strange that he would use the term “an expression of our love?” Yes, I know he was supposedly quoting Michael, but I detected more than a hint of mutual sincerity in that statement. As they always say, it’s a very thin line between love and hate, and what I believe is that something-whatever-has pushed Wade over that edge from love to hate).

Sorry to be so blunt, but those are the only two choices. Wade doesn’t get to have it both ways. And given his adult status at the time, he can’t just admit he lied in 2005 and brush it all off that easily. “Oh, I was brainwashed.”

Like I said before, this is a young man with a LOT of answering to do, either way. It boils down to one simple truth: He is a liar. Whether he lied in 2005 or now, either way he is a liar. And I can’t wait for the cross examinations to begin!

Is there any sincerity in his interview? I believe there is still some genuine. mixed emotion when he is asked how he feels about Michael. There is a hint of the old animation here. All of his praise of Michael’s talent and as an inspiration to him through the years has been sincere, and that still comes through here. But there is also a lot of obvious discomfort with once again being put in a position to describe Michael in even these mixed terms. Again, this can be read one of two ways: Discomfort because it is a distressing and painful subject, or guilt because it forcing him to confront and acknowledge what he is doing to this man’s legacy and to his children. Since it can be read either way, I don’t know how much weight to give it, but clearly it is a sore point for him.

Whatever the case may be, it was a done deal when he uttered the “p” word and Michael’s name in the same breath, on national TV. There is no turning back from this point. Fans are never going to forgive Wade Robson. Michael Jackson’s family and children are never going to forgive him.

Okay, so maybe he doesn’t need the fans, or the Jackson family.

But he does need a judge to take him seriously, and at the rate he’s going, he is effectively shooting himself in the foot.

And besides, there’s something to be said about burned bridges. You never know when you might want to turn back, or wish you’d never been so quick to light that match.

Wade has burned his bridges along with his credibility.

Of all the things I take from this interview, there are only two things for which I believe Wade is truly sincere: Something has happened to him in the last year or so. Perhaps he was abused (but who’s to say that Michael was the abuser? As Corey Feldman has said, pedophilia is rampant in Hollywood). Could it be possible that he is simply transferring his anger and pain at another onto Michael, simply because Michael is an easier target and/or AEG is sponsoring him to lie?

Well, that is getting into the realm of pure speculation, but here is one thing that is not speculation: Wade Robson, currently, is a very angry and troubled man. My personal belief is that he is making Michael a scapegoat for his own issues-and not for the reasons he is raising here.  His current demeanor also reveals a strong, sociopathic streak that was not evident before. He seems to be out for #1 now, and will stop at no means to do that.

I will apologize again if some of my words seem uncharacteristically blunt, but either way the scales are tipped (whether you believed Wade in 2005, or now) he has openly revealed himself as a liar who places his own needs and his own motives ahead of the welfare of others. He did not care about other abused children in 2005 (and let me remind you again, he was a fully capable adult at that time) and he does not care about them now.

What he does care about, very much,  is Michael Jackson’s money.

But I have a feeling all the money in the world can’t fix Wade Robson’s problems.

Whatever they are.

UPDATE: 5/17/13: Craig Baxter has posted his analysis of the interview. Here are Parts I and II:

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpTcU1bjkk4[/tube]

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w_QbTglW3E[/tube]

ETA: And…while it may not seem like much, this latest video from TMZ Live does set something of a historical precedent. For perhaps the first time ever, we see a gossip outlet seriously questioning the story of an MJ accuser. While I’m not ready to give TMZ any cookies just yet-trust me, they are relishing this story just as they have always relished any dirt on Michael-I think this does represent an important and progressive step forward. (Harry Levin is still a douche, however; just maybe a slightly less douche than before!):

http://www.tmz.com/vi