The focus of this first episode in the Arvizo series is to present the background of the case and the lead up to the trial. The Arvizo family is introduced and how they got to know Michael Jackson beginning in 2000. The case background includes details about the family's history of grift, and how the mother uses her kids in her money schemes. You'll hear how the Martin Bashir documentary about Michael Jackson sets off a media frenzy that leads directly to allegations of abuse. The episode concludes as Jackson's criminal trial begins in February 2005.
All testimony referred to in this episode can be found here
Trial transcripts sent to Reflections on the Dance website by Jackson’s attorney Tom Mesereau.
Aphrodite Jones book, Conspiracy
Jones attended the trial, and changed her opinion to believing Jackson was innocent after watching all the evidence unfold during the trial proceedin. She provides a witness by witness account in her book.
Frank Cascio’s account of the Arvizo’s first visit to Neverland
Background on JC Penney assault and sexual battery case
Sworn statement by David Arvizo on October 24, 2004
This includes David Arvizo's account of how Janet Arvizo had her kids rehearse stories over the months before Janet filed assault charges against the JC Penney guards.
Martin Bashir Documentary, Living with Michael Jackson
Trial testimony from local Newspaper editor Connie Keenan
In her testimony, Keenan recounts how she was scammed by Janet Arvizo. She says Janet tricked her into asking her readers for money to pay for Gavin's medical care, only to find out later that the Arvizos had full health care coverage. She states that Janet called back a second time to ask for more money, and lied about the costs of treatment. Keenan says she recorded this call.
Newspaper coverage of Keenan's testimony
David Rothenberg explains his friendship with Michael Jackson:
Rothenburg was the other person Jackson suggested to Bashir to feature how he supported children with illnesses. Rothenberg says how he received emotional support from Jackson until his death.
Journalist Aphrodite Jones, on Martin Bashir:
Jones found out from witnesses present at the filming that Bashir had set up the scene with Jackson and Gavin holding hands and Gavin putting his head on Jackson's shoulder.
Lawyer Gloria Allred calls for child welfare investigation after Martin Bashir documentary
Gloria Allred calls for Jackson’s kids to be taken away, based on Jackson documentary
Press stories using Victor Guitierrez as a source after the Bashir documentary release
Tucker testifies that Gavin Arvizo called him wanting to find Michael Jackson after the Bashir documentary aired.
Tom Sneddon contacts Janet Arvizo after Bashir documentary
Journalist Roger Friedman reports that Sneddon delivered his business card under Janet Arvizo's door during the media frenzy after the Bashir film aired, months before the Arvizos alleged abuse.
Journalist Ed Bradley with the Arvizos
Bradley tells Larry King that he spoke with the Arvizos during their stay at Neverland, during a time they later claimed they were held captive. Bradley says the Arvizos were happy to talk about how great Michael was. Bradley also describes how the New York Times never fact-checked a story regarding the Bradley-Jackson attempted interview the year prior.
Square One documentary by Danny Wu
This documentary includes interviews with other guests who were with the Arvizos at Neverland during the time the Arvizos allege being held captive. These guests describe the Arvizos having a wonderful time and in no distress.
Rebuttal Interview Excerpts:
The excerpt you hear in this episode from Janet and Gavin Arvizo can be found in this video, around minute 1:00
For more excerpts from the rebuttal interview, see the following sources:
Interview with the Arvizos in the middle of their Neverland stay after the Bashir documentary aired, making positive remarks about Michael Jackson.
Analysis of the Arvizo's Neverland stay in February-March 2003
Witness statements by Passport employees regarding trip to Brazil
Defense states in motion that Passport employees will testify to hearing the Arvizos express their wish to travel outside the US, and that Janet Arvizo tried to get to the front of the line by telling them that she was Michael Jackson's assistant.
Rebuttal documentary by Jackson's team, showing how Bashir manipulated Jackson
Testimony by social services worker who Interviewed Gavin Arvizo
(See Irene Peters testimony) This social worker interviewed Gavin and the whole Arvizo family in the middle of their stay at Neverland. This interview took place in the home of Janet's fiance. Gavin told the social worker wonderful things about Jackson, and said Jackson didn't do anything inappropriate. The Arvizo family all praised Jackson, even though later they will say they were frightened and threatened by Jackson at this time.
Vindicating Michael post that explains how Neverland security guards had no stories of witnessing abuse until they met with DA Tom Sneddon and police detectives in 1994 and felt out what they could get in exchange for incriminating stories in the Chandler case.
This reminds me of the Arvizos, when they first met with lawyers after their "escape" from Neverland. They had no stories of molestation until after meeting with the lawyers for several months, claiming they only wanted to negotiate getting their belongings from the storage locker and keep their photos out of the media. Even when they first brought in the Chandler's former attorney, Larry Feldman, they still had not mentioned any allegations of abuse.
Child Welfare report clearing Jackson of any wrongdoing
Diane Dimond explains how she got an exclusive tip from police about the Neverland raid
Tom Sneddon's Press Conference after Jackson’s arrest
News announcing surprise Neverland police raid
About 70 sheriffs participated in this raid, and helicopters added to the spectacle. Jackson was in Las Vegas at the time. Just the same as in the Neverland raids from 1993, nothing incriminating was found.
Statement of Probable Cause filed by the Prosecution
Filed on November 17, 2003, this Statement of Probable Cause lacked any objective evidence, and included numerous falsehoods, such as the "evidence" that Gavin and Jackson had an ongoing friendship over 2 years. This was the basis for the raids and arrest.
Establishing probable cause police must be able to point to objective circumstances
Today article referencing Sgt. Robel's later 2005 testimony that there was basically no investigation prior to the raid. Describes this approach as "faith-based" prosecution, despite the shady history of the family.
Obituary for former Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon
Includes highlights from his career and family background.
Articles about Tom Sneddon’s gleeful demeanor at the 2003 press conference announcing Jackson's arrest:
Article about Sneddon's press conference and his apparent vendetta against Jackson
Sneddon apologizes for behavior at press conference and Court TV appearance
In his Court TV appearance he referred to Jackson as Wacko Jacko.
The police stop their investigation once it's established that Kapon never had contact with Jackson. It was Kapon's mother's mental illness that factored into the bizarre claims of abuse.
Diane Dimond claiming certainty about love letters
This is the CNN Transcript of Diane Dimond on Larry King, claiming knowledge of the existence of love letters by Jackson to Gavin, which never materialize. There is never any mention of "love letters" by the prosecution at Jackson's trial.
KING: Does anyone here -- does anyone here -- anyone -- know of the existence of these letters?
DIMOND: Absolutely. I do.
DIMOND: I absolutely know of their existence!
Jackson and his lawyer were secretly recorded on the flight back to LA after arrest warrant announced in November 2003
The Prosecution’s original felony complaint, from December 2003
Jackson lawyer Mark Geragos statement that Jackson has an alibi for all the dates listed in complaint:
100 pages of Jackson's phone records seized by police in March 2004
The New York Times reporting on police investigation of Daniel Kapon’s accusation without context
Daniel Kapon sells videotape to tabloid. The tape is of Kapon alleging that Jackson had drugged, molested and videotaped him during trips to the Jackson family home in Encino.
The Kapon story inflames suspicions about Jackson
Why Grand Juries almost always indict, and are considered rubber stamps for prosecutors:
Brand new conspiracy charge against Jackson added during Sneddon's Grand Jury proceedings
Jackson lawyer Tom Mesereau explains the strategy behind the new conspiracy charge
Mesereau notes that with the prosecution's conspiracy charge, Jackson's defense loses many valuable witnesses because of the prosecution's threat of filing criminal charges against them related to the conspiracy.
Jackson fires Mark Geragos and hires defense attorney Tom Mesereau:
Mesereau takes a completely different approach to the media, and shuns the cameras. Mesereau quickly understands how many around Jackson were trying to take advantage of him. Mesereau goes to work trying to rid Jackson of these hangers-on.
July 2004 news press article where Jackson associates respond to new charges of conspiracy: Hobbs, Dawn. “Timeline Emerges in Jackson Abuse Case.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 31 Jul. 2004
Motion filed by defense to set aside grand jury indictment because of misconduct by Santa Barbara DA Tom Sneddon
Compilation of DA Tom Sneddon prosecutorial overreach during the Jackson investigation leading up to trial
Reports that Tom Sneddon violated gag order
Tom Sneddon violates patient-client privilege
Why Tom Sneddon’s search of Jackson’s PI’s office was unlawful
Abrams Report with attorney Mercedes Colwin about ethical issues with Tom Sneddon
Tom Mesereau's public statement about the Chandler settlement in 2004, stating that Jackson regrets the decision to settle
Tom Sneddon cleared to continue on the Jackson case
The Arvizos prior mental exams published:
Psychiatrist believes Janet arvizo to be suffering from schizophrenia. Believes the kids were coached.
Neverland raided a second time by police in December 2004
Ray Chandler refuses to testify
October 2004, Ray Chandler objects to subpoena by Jackson to bring the “evidence” he’s been talking about in the media into court.
Last minute discovery leaves defense scrambling
Defense asks for delay in trial due to 22,000 pages of discovery turned over by the prosecution at the last minute on Dec 14, 2004.
February 15, 2005 Defense witness list
Febrary 24, 2005 Jackson trial jury confirmed
Legal adult heterosexual pornography found during 2003 raids
DNA evidence gathered from police raids
Jordan Chandler refuses to testify against Jackson
In September 2004, 2 FBI agents were dispatched to NY to speak with Jordan Chandler about testifying at Jackson's trial. Jordan told them he had no interest in testifying against Jackson and would legally fight any attempt to do so.
Victor Gutierrez hired for NBC Michael Jackson special
You can see a screenshot of the credits for the show "Inside the Michael Jackson case" where Victor Gutierrez is listed as a consulting producer for the show.
Ruling to allow testimony about past allegations against Jackson
Grand jury documents:
These documents were illegally leaked to the media, and details of the allegations were reported.
January 2005 Jackson issues video statement in response to the Grand Jury leak
Tom Mesereau writes about his experiences leading up to the Jackson trial
Thanks to the following websites for collecting documents and providing case analysis over many years:
Many of their posts helped to guide the research for this episode.