June 18, 2005
Lessons from the Michael Jackson Case
There are lessons to be
learned from the Michael Jackson case that have nothing to do
with Michael Jackson himself, who is suigeneris - a unique case,
not likely to be repeated.
"This jury allowed their
dislike of the victim's mother to overshadow the evidence," said
Janet LaRue, of Concerned Women of America. "He acknowledges
that he slept with boys every night. The housekeeper saw him
nude in the shower with the kid. The guy is a classic pedophile,
a 45-year-old man who sleeps with other people's little boys. He
uses alcohol and pornography to seduce boys."
"I know the cop who
investigated him in 1993," added LaRue. "I know the heartbreak
of the lead detective for the LAPD, a sexual abuse investigator.
He says that in Neverland, the alarms go off only when you walk
down the hallway to his bedroom. The detective grieved that the
boy would not testify because of the ($20 million) settlement."
Jackson earned goodwill by
creating Neverland and letting sick children attend for free.
They clearly became his future victims. Few pedophiles have
Michael Jackson's millions, which not only gave him an endless
flow of children right to his home but also a brilliant defense
attorney who knew how to attack the credibility of the victim
and his mother.
However, one lesson of the
Jackson case is that all pedophiles target vulnerable children
in a dysfunctional family. They are easier to victimize.
Are you a single parent of a
young boy? If so, he is vulnerable. Are you in an intact home,
but he is teased at school for some physical imperfection? If
so, he too, is vulnerable.
How can you protect
him? First, be suspicious of any man who shows excessive
devotion to your son - the scoutmaster who takes boys camping,
without another adult along; the coach who spends excessive time
with your boy after practice is over.
Patrick Trueman, the U.S.
Justice Department's Chief of the Child Exploitation and
Obscenity Section from 1988-2001, warns that a second lesson
about pedophiles is that "They have great skill in taking
parents into their confidence as well."
One reason so many Catholic
priests got away with molesting children is that they were
trusted by parents.
A single mother may welcome
her brother's attention to her son, believing the boy will be
safe with his uncle who takes the boy to movies. She thinks the
boy needs to have a male mentor. She may believe there is no
danger since her brother is married. But remember Michael
Jackson was also married - twice. Marriage provides a cover.
However, if the uncle
invites her boy to go on an overnight trip, the alarm signals
should flash. Do NOT allow your son to stay overnight with
him. In fact, break off the relationship altogether.
What if you have evidence
that your son was molested by a family member, a teacher, a
coach? He needs to be questioned by a detective with
sophisticated training in dealing with victims of such
abuse. "Child witnesses tend to be less reliable in their
rendition of the facts than an adult because they can be more
easily led than an adult," says Trueman.
"A report on child sexual
abuse might lead to a cop on the beat being the first to
interview the child. He is not trained to do so. He might say,
`Who did this to you? Your uncle?' Where prosecutors have gone
wrong in the past in child sexual abuse cases, is in having more
than one person interview the child," said the former top
The child ends up giving
different versions, as happened in the case involving Jackson.
That can be used by the defense to undermine the child's
The day after the trial
Jackson's attorneys said he yielded to advice not to repeat the
behavior that got him into so much trouble - sharing his bed
Trueman retorted, "A
pedophile cannot be cured. There is no one who has shown that
there is any treatment - even if you castrate him - that will
stop a pedophile from going back to molesting children. No
counseling has ever cured a pedophile."
My fear is that Jackson's
acquittal will be great encouragement to America's pedophiles,
that they can get away with it. The only way for major change to
occur, as in the Catholic Church, is for many more adults who
were molested as kids, to bring law suits against the school
systems or other institutions which covered up such crimes.