Michael Jackson fans around the world are recognizing an interesting anniversary for the late King of Pop, as June 13, 2020 marks 15 years since MJ was acquitted on charges of child abuse in one of the most talked-about trials of the decade.
Jackson had been indicted on 14 counts total, including four counts of molesting a minor, four counts of intoxicating a minor to molest him, one count of attempted child molestation, one count of conspiring to hold the boy and his family captive, and conspiring to commit extortion and child abduction.
The People v. Michael Jackson was a criminal case in 2005 held in Santa Barbara Superior Court, near the then-home of MJ’s famed Neverland Ranch. The singer had been accused of molesting a young 13-year-old boy named Gavin Arvizo.
Jackson’s lead attorney was Thomas Mesereau, and the trial attracted international attention with defense testimony from celebrities like Macaulay Culkin, Jay Leno and Chris Tucker. One of the defense witnesses was also Wade Robson, who has made a name for himself in the later years by reversing his stance on Jackson and taking legal action against the late singer’s estate.
The jury deliberated for almost 32 hours over seven days, and in the end came back with a “not guilty” verdict on all counts. Afterwards, the jurors said they felt the case presented by prosecutors was weak and they felt there were red flags with the victim’s family. One juror was quoted as saying:
“We expected better evidence, something that was a little more convincing. It just wasn’t there.”
Another juror explained that MJ’s celebrity had to be taken out of the equation and they examined the case on evidence alone:
“We looked at all the evidence and we looked at Michael Jackson, and one of the first things we decided was we had to look at him just as another person and not a celebrity.”
Even though the King of Pop is not alive to recognize the anniversary of his vindication against child abuse charges, fans began paying respects and immediately got the hashtag, #MichaelJacksonVindicated, trending on Twitter. Saturday morning saw more than 21,000 tweets in acknowledgement of the moment, which is especially interesting at a time when MJ’s legacy has once again been questioned.
“MJ was acquitted in a court of law, convicted guilty by the court of public opinion, and thus persecuted for the rest of his live and beyond. The man was a hero, I wish we had another like him today,” one Jackson fan wrote.
“Friendly reminder that till this day there’s not one piece of information that could make Michael guilty. NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING ,” another die-hard fan commented.