Monday, June 13, 2005


Jackson leaves the Santa Maria courthouse a free man. Photo: Michael Mariant (AP)

Moments ago, a jury in Santa Maria, CA delivered the verdict in the highly-publicized Michael Jackson child molestation trial. Very surprisingly, the 8-woman / 4-man jury found Jackson "not guilty" on all ten counts. Michael Jackson is a free man.[1]

I was not necessarily surprised that the verdict acquitted on at least some of the charges, but I am surprised that they acquitted on all charges... especially considering that Michael Jackson confessed in the Bashir Documentary to sleeping with these boys.[2] But apparently the jury did not believe that there was enough evidence to convict on these charges.

We need to remember that a "not guilty" verdict does not necessarily indicate innocence. It simply indicates that the prosecution has not proven the defendant's guilt. And, in the end, that's the bottom line when it comes to the law. This verdict does not vindicate Jackson, but it does exonerate him.

There will undoubtedly be much public outcry as those who believe in Jackson's guilt dispute the verdict and Jackson's loyal fans defend their idol. The trial itself may be over and Jackson can never be re-tried for any of these allegations, but the public debate over this case is far from over.

As I reported in an earlier entry, racism has already been alleged in the prosecution of this case. Bearing in mind that this is a case combining the celebrity of O.J. Simpson and the racial unrest of Rodney King, a guilty verdict would have been sure to incite a reaction with elements of both previous cases. But the allegations that the jury was rigged against Jackson has now been proven false.

I am concerned about some of the aspects of this trial, such as the perceived probability that jurors had been exposed to the media during the trial. I cannot say with 100 percent assurance that this was a fair trial, but none of the evidence indicates that any of it had anything to do with race.

Is Jackson completely innocent? I seriously doubt it. But the bottom line is that today Michael Jackson was cleared in a court of law. Time will tell how he will fare in the court of public opinion.



[1] "Studio B with Shepard Smith", Live Broadcast from Michael Jackson Trial, FOX News Channel, 06/13/05, 4:00 pm ET
[2] Martin Bashir documentary


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