Authorities refuse to release information about him, but Michael Jackson's alleged victim is no stranger to those familiar with the singer — Jackson's accuser was featured in a controversial British television documentary earlier this year.
And as his estranged parents battle it out in the pages of British tabloids, the story of how the alleged victim met the superstar is becoming clearer. A young cancer sufferer from Los Angeles, the boy's disease prompted his introduction to Jackson. The then-12-year-old boy attended Comedy Camp, a summer camp for underprivileged kids operated by the Laugh Factory, and the standup club's owner, Jamie Masada, tried to help the boy and his family with rising medical costs by throwing a benefit show in October 2000, where comedians Chris Tucker, Damon Wayans and Bob Saget performed.
But, according to British press reports, doctors weren't giving the boy much time to live — weeks, a month at most. So to help the boy find a reason to keep fighting, Masada asked him which celebrity he would most like to meet. On the boy's wish list were Tucker, Adam Sandler and Michael Jackson, and so a meeting with Michael was arranged while the boy was still in the hospital. A friendship ensued, starting with phone conversations and then trips to Neverland Ranch, with some of those trips including overnight stays, the U.K. tabloids report. Soon after meeting Jackson, the boy's cancer went into remission, causing his mother to later credit the star with the boy's recovery.
"At no time has [the boy] been treated with anything other than love, respect and the deepest kindness by Michael," the mother said in a statement shortly after the documentary's release. "Michael has been so important in [the boy] being able to recover from cancer. His constant support, both practical and emotional, helped give my beautiful little boy the strength to fight his cancer."
Jackson then included the boy — without his parents' permission, they say — in the "Living With Michael Jackson" documentary by British journalist Martin Bashir. After it aired — showing the singer holding hands with the boy and Jackson admitting to letting the boy sleep in his bed — the boy said he was bullied in school about his relationship with Jackson. His mother sought counseling for him this past summer, and during those sessions the boy allegedly told his therapist there was more to the relationship than just holding hands and sleeping in Jackson's bed. The therapist reported to authorities what the boy had told him, prompting the current investigation (see "Michael Jackson Wanted On Multiple Counts Of Child Molestation").
The boy's parents have said they're furious not only at Jackson, but also at Bashir for including the boy in his documentary (the mother even filed a complaint with the British Broadcasting Standards Commission). The two, who are in the midst of a divorce and custody battle, are also divided about how to deal with the situation. Both have hired lawyers and both have used the British press to air their differences.
The father plans to prove that the mother is unfit based on the allegation that she either allowed the boy to be unsupervised at Neverland or she is encouraging him to make false accusations. "I don't know whether Michael Jackson abused my boy or not," the father said in a statement released by his lawyer, H. Russell Halpern, to the British media. "Because of a court decision, I'm not allowed to see him. But I do know that [my wife] shouldn't have left [the boy] in the position that these allegations could be made. Either they are true — which is just too awful to contemplate — or she has encouraged him to make them up, which is almost as bad."
The father also accuses the mother of being infatuated with Jackson's fame and money, saying that she felt she had to prove to Jackson that the family trusted him by sending her children to stay on their own. "It was like she was worried he would just drop us if we didn't," the father said in the statement. "I ignored her. I made sure that I was with [the boy] every time he went up there. But once I was off the scene, [she] just got her own way."
The father lost custody after being accused of physically abusing his wife and two of his three children — including the boy in question. He pleaded no contest in 2001 to a single count of domestic violence and received a sentence of counseling and probation. The following year he pleaded guilty to a charge of willful cruelty to a child, in an incident involving his daughter, and received more probation. The mother at the time got sole custody as well as a restraining order against the father.
In the mother's petition for divorce, she said her husband regularly abused and threatened to kill her. "He said he hated me and hated our kids and that he was disowning us," she wrote in her petition.
Reached on Monday (November 24), Halpern said his client is just a "simple, regular guy," and he accused the boy's mother of getting the children to fabricate claims against their father. Halpern noted that he had advised the man to plead guilty and no contest to the cruelty and abuse charges just to make the process easier, even though he believed his client was innocent. He said the father wasn't worried about Jackson "because Michael didn't seem to be like a pedophile," but that the man was disturbed that his wife was allowing unsupervised overnight stays.
The mother initially came to Jackson's defense after the airing of the documentary, saying in the British press that her children looked at Jackson as "the father they never had." She said her children even called him "Daddy" and that the trust implicit in their relationship was why she didn't need to be present when her children stayed over.
Asked if his parents were happy that he was at Neverland without supervision, the boy told Bashir in the documentary, "My mom was all very, very happy. And I know they're happy because I was happy. Most of the time [they come with me]. But I wasn't here to be with my parents. I was here to be with Michael."
Calls to the mother's lawyer were not immediately returned.
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see "Michael Jackson Accused."