The boy at the center of the Michael Jackson molestation case is now
at the center of another legal battle — between his parents.
On Wednesday afternoon (January 28), Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Denner denied an emergency motion made by the boy's father, who sought custody of his son following news reports suggesting the boy may have been victimized and is in ill health. The estranged father hasn't seen his son for more than a year. (The child and father's names are being withheld due to
the nature of the case.)
"My son may have been the victim of a crime, that being child
molestation, and I would like to see my son to give him love and
support," the father said in documents filed Tuesday. He
said he wanted to see his son immediately to "confirm or refute these
horrible reports regarding my son's health."
Judge Denner set February 24 as the date for a full hearing on the
His son had previously been treated for cancer, but the father believed
it was in remission. Friends of the family, however, have told
reporters his son has suffered a relapse, lost function of his
remaining kidney and was close to death (see "Jackson Wanted Boy To
Leave The Country, Family Friend Says").
The father has been barred from seeing his three children following
accusations that he had physically abused his wife and two of the 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 no contest to
a charge of willful cruelty to a child, following an incident involving
his daughter, and received more probation. The mother was awarded sole
custody of the children and a restraining order was issued against the
father (see "U.K. Reports Tell Story Of How Jackson Met His Accuser").
The father's attorney, H. Russell Halpern, however, claims the father
never abused his family. Halpern also said the father had completed
classes in parenting and anger management, as required by his sentence.
"People often ask, why would somebody who is innocent, and I believe he
was innocent, plead no contest to a charge?" Halpern said.
"Unfortunately, it's usually the innocent person who succumbs to
pressure put on them by the courts. They are told that if they do not
plead no contest and go to trial, there is a good possibility they
could be put in jail. My clients who have actually committed crimes in
the past aren't that afraid of going to jail; they've been there
before. But the father of this boy had never been in trouble before and
faced the prospect of losing his job and going to jail for a year, with
Bubba as his roommate and new 'best friend.' That's very scary. So when
you're told you can avoid all that by pleading no contest, you swallow
your pride and take the plea bargain."
The father was there when his son was first treated for cancer
and starting hanging out with Jackson. The father considered the singer
a family friend, since he had helped defray some of the medical costs,
and in doing so "may have helped save the boy's life," Halpern said.
The father was subsequently conflicted about the accusations.
"He expressed to me that he wants to know the truth," Halpern said. "He
did not want Mr. Jackson to be unjustly accused of the crime. He said
that Mr. Jackson, aside from his high-pitched voice, exhibited a very
masculine personality and Mr. Jackson did not appear to him to be a
pedophile. At the same time, if Mr. Jackson were guilty, he would want
him to be punished. He feels this particular son is the most honest of
his three children, and he finds it difficult to believe this son would
Halpern said it comes down to the mother allowing unsupervised
sleepovers, which he described as "reckless behavior."
"I think allowing your child to spend the night in an adult male's room
would give some question to any court as to whether this is the proper
parent to have sole custody and provide primary childcare," Halpern
said. "And if she had used her children to make false accusations
against Mr. Jackson, that involves her children in criminal conduct."
Either way, Halpern argued, the father should at least have visitation
rights if not partial or sole custody.
"The child's father doesn't believe anything at this point," Halpern
said. "He doesn't know, and that's the way everybody should feel. If it
were your child, you should want to find out the facts. Otherwise, you
would be lynching people, and it's not very satisfying if you find out
they're innocent after you've hung them. It's important for him to come
in contact with his son so he can learn what really happened. And his
children should be told that their father loves and wants to see them."
The mother's attorney did not return calls for comment.
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case,
see "Michael Jackson