Even though [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist] will always be recognized as a gifted entertainer first and foremost, the star will also be remembered for the legal troubles that plagued him throughout the latter half of his career.
At the forefront — amid many lawsuits and other legal entanglements — were a pair of highly controversial child molestation accusations, first in 1993 and then again 10 years later in 2003.
The first situation occurred when Jackson befriended a 13-year-old child and later invited him to his Neverland Valley Ranch. The boy claimed Jackson inappropriately touched him. He then allegedly gave police a description of the singer's genitals. Jackson was never charged in the matter, but the accusation was strong enough that he was subjected to a strip search by police that left him humiliated and enraged. Jackson lashed out publicly on TV against authorities after the embarrassing ordeal. Jackson was later sued in civil court by the family of the child and he countersued. But by 1995, Jackson and the family settled the matter out of court, with the singer reportedly paying the family a sum in the millions.
Public opinion about Jackson was split after the settlement was announced. Some took the action as an admission of guilt by the singer. But others were sympathetic toward Jackson, who, having spent his childhood as a performer, was robbed of a normal upbringing.
Remarkably, years later, when Jackson gave a February 2003 interview to British journalist Martin Bashir and admitted to sharing his bed with children in an act he considered affectionate, fans were still forgiving. But the district attorney's office seized the opportunity. A search warrant was issued against Jackson in light of the interview and police scoured the singer's home.
This time Jackson was hit with molestation charges. In April 2004 he was indicted by a Los Angeles grand jury, paving the way for a much-publicized trial. Celebrities like Jay Leno and Macaulay Culkin testified on behalf of Jackson. The child at the center of the case was the boy who was holding hands with Jackson during his interview with Bashir. The pop icon was accused of giving the underage child alcohol and engaging in lewd behavior. The jury deliberated for a week after the circus-like trial and acquitted the singer on all charges. The nail-biting decision drew cheers from Jackson supporters.
In recent years Jackson's finances were at the heart of his legal troubles. He battled bankruptcy amid a number of extended loans that he took out against the catalog of publishing he owned, which included hits by the Beatles and Elvis Presley. Jackson also was fighting to keep his Neverland home. It was announced in 2008 that items at his estate would be auctioned off to accommodate creditors. Jackson staved off the auction with a countersuit; the auctioneers fired back at Jackson, saying the gloved star had helped organize the auction in the first place.
The most recent major lawsuit against Jackson came just last month. The singer was sued by concert promoter AllGood Entertainment after the company booked Jackson and his siblings for a 2010 reunion concert only to discover Jackson's intention to perform a 50-show run in London this year. AllGood claimed it had exclusivity rights that barred Jackson from performing 18 months prior to the family reunion show. Jackson claimed he didn't sign paperwork committing him to the reunion show, but reports indicated his manager agreed in principle with AllGood and as a result he was in violation of the contract.
According to sources that spoke with MTV News, Jackson was rehearsing for his London dates the night before his death.
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