Michael Jackson Booked

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Michael Jackson Booked


By: Anonymous

Date: November 20, 2003

Source: AP Images

About the Photographer: The photographer who took this booking photograph (mug shot) of Michael Jackson for the Santa Barbara, California, Sherrif's Deptartment is unknown.


Having lived most of his life in the glare of media spotlight, Michael Jackson's eccentric lifestyle has frequently been scrutinized. He became the world's most famous singer after launching his solo career with Off The Wall in 1979. Three years later Thriller became the biggest-selling album of all time with 51 million albums sold since 1982.

Dubbed "Wacko Jacko" by the British tabloid media, Jackson became as famous for his eccentric behavior as he was for his music. Much attention was focused on his extensive plastic surgery, his penchant for exotic pets and other strange purchases, as well as his perpetually childish demeanor. Jackson cultivated this Peter Pan image, even calling his massive California ranch "Neverland" and filling it with fairground equipment.

However this reputation for eccentricity took on a darker complexion when Jackson was accused of sex abuse. In 1993 Jordan Chandler, the teenage son of a Beverly Hills dentist, accused Jackson of molestation. Police investigating the case raided the Neverland Ranch, but the Chandler family settled out of court with Jackson and never filed criminal charges. The settlement was said to be in excess of $20 million.

After the Chandler case Jackson's career began to decline. In 2003 the British broadcaster Martin Bashir, who had built his reputation with celebrity interviews, was granted unprecedented access to Jackson's home to make the documentary Living with Michael Jackson. The film was an extraordinary portrayal of a seemingly troubled man, but the most incredible part was when children whom Jackson had befriended were interviewed. They admitted to attending "sleepovers" he hosted and to sharing his bed. Given the pop star's inherent childishness this did not by itself point to child abuse, but it begged a fundamental question: What 44-year-old man attended sleepover parties with young boys?

Living with Michael Jackson created a storm of headlines. After its screening one of the children interviewed by Bashir, Gavin Arvizo, came forward with new allegations of sexual molestation. Like the Chandler family, the Arvizo's were represented by Larry Feldman; and as before the investigation was launched by District Attorney Tom Sneddon.

Jackson was arrested in November 2003, booked in Santa Barbara County, California, and brought to trial in spring 2005. He faced ten charges ranging from child abduction, false imprisonment, and extortion to administering alcohol to and committing of a lewd act on a minor. On June 13, 2005, Jackson was acquitted of all charges.



See primary source image.


Booking photographs (mug shots) are taken during every booking after arrest, and often contain addi-tional identifying information as in this case, the height, weight, race, hair color, eye color, and sex of Michael Jackson. Whether the individual is eventually acquitted or found guilty, a record of the mug shot remains and is kept available to share among other law enforcement agencies.

Jackson's acquittal owed as much to the lack of firm evidence as it did to the defense's discrediting of the main prosecution witness, Janet Arvizo.

Accusations that Jackson kept a "suitcase" full of pornography in the bedroom he shared with young boys on his controversial sleepovers were found to be unsubstantiated. When it was suggested that he kept and shared pornographic material on his computers, the judge examined the material but agreed with the defense that it may have been automatically stored by the computers and "there wouldn't be any way of knowing if anyone looked at the material or not." The judge also agreed that the material did not match the time period of the alleged crimes. The judge tired of hearing outlandish charges not backed up with evidence. When Mrs. Arvizo told the jury that "Neverland is all about booze, pornography and sex with boys" the judge admonished her for her outburst. Charges that Jackson regularly served children alcohol were also never substantiated.

It was the discrediting of Mrs. Arvizo, in fact, that proved the turning point. The Jackson defense team had hired a private detective to uncover information about her and then successfully turned the trial into an examination of her credibility, portraying her as venal and money-grubbing. Her aggressive manner also riled the jurors. One juror, Melissa Herard, told the Guardian, "A lot of the parts of her testimony, I just wanted to break out laughing, but I couldn't. She was just up and down, up and down."

After the trial, one juror told CNN's Larry King that he believed Jackson had "probably molested boys" but that the evidence presented had not been sufficient to warrant a conviction. Although the jurors believed a crime may have been committed, the prosecution had not satisfied its burden of proof "beyond reasonable doubt". On that basis Jackson had been found not guilty.

Critics argued that some jurors may have used the trial aftermath as an ego trip; others questioned whether they had found Mr. Jackson innocent because of his celebrity and their dislike for the accuser's mother. Eleanor Cook, a 79-year-old juror, criticized Janet Arvizo for snapping her fingers while evidence was being given and said that her attitude was "intimidatoray".

After the trial Jackson vowed to change his ways and promised to be more guarded in his interaction with children. Since the trial Jackson has been living in Bahrain and his Neverland ranch was closed in March of 2006.

Despite having his name cleared, plummeting record sales that followed the original accusations, combined with his extravagant lifestyle and the Arvizo trial left Michael Jackson financially ruined and his career in tatters. His previous studio album, Blood on the Dance Floor released in 2003, sold just 900,000 copies, a fraction of the millions he sold in the 1980s. Despite owning a substantial portion of publishing rights to songs by the Beatles, Jackson was left in financial turmoil with post-trial debts said to total $150m.


Web sites

Guardian Unlimited. "Special Report: Michael Jackson Trial" 〈http://www.guardian.co.uk/jackson/0,15819,1428022,00.html〉 (accessed: Jan 11, 2006).

Sony Music Entertainment, Inc. "Michael Jackson Official Web Site" 〈http://www.michaeljackson.com/〉 (accessed: Jan 11, 2006).

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