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S1: Episode 10. The Arvizo Allegations Part 4--Defense Witnesses & Verdict



In this episode, you'll hear the testimony from the defense witnesses. Many of these witnesses testify to being the victims of the Arvizos' scamming. The picture they paint is not just of Janet Arvizo doing the scamming, but the whole family takes part. The kids are savvy and cunning with their flattery and indirect manner of asking for gifts or money. There is consistent testimony that the Arvizo kids respected no authority except their own mother. The witnesses all describe very entitled, confident, and destructive behavior by Gavin and his brother, and Gavin comes across as not afraid to stand up to anyone. The defense also brings forward 3 of Jackson's alleged victims, according to the prosecution, who all testify adamantly that Jackson never touched them.


Trial transcripts sent to Reflections on the Dance website by Jackson’s attorney Tom Mesereau.







The first witness is Wade Robson, who is 22 at the time. He denies any inappropriate behavior and withstands a strong and rapid fire attack by Prosecutor Ron Zonen.



Brett Barnes, who is 23 at the time of the trial, testifies after Robson. He says nothing inappropriate ever happened with Jackson and says Jackson never asked him to stay in his bedroom suite but that Brett wanted to stay there with all the other kids. Barnes expresses anger that the prosecution is putting forward allegations that he was molested through the accounts of former employees.



Wade's mother, Joy Robson, says the whole family spent time with Jackson, not just Wade, and she herself would stay in the suite watching movies, and was always allowed to walk freely in and out of the suite.



Wade's sister Chantal testifies, and she says she never felt excluded from the fun and that she had a close relationship with Jackson separate from Wade.



Marie Lisbeth Barnes testifies that she was invited to stay in Jackson's suite, which she did sometimes during her stays at Neverland. She was free to go in and out of Jackson's suite at any time. She said Jackson's was like a member of the family.


Karlee testifies that she never felt unwelcome in Jackson's room and felt free to go anywhere in the house she wanted, nothing was ever off limits.



Contreras worked with Adrian McManus. She testifies that McManus always spoke highly of Jackson, and she told Contreras that she never witnessed anything inappropriate between Jackson and any child. Contreras also testifies that she observed many stolen items from Neverland in McManus' home.



Violet Silva says there was constant patrolling of the property, she never observed any inappropriate behavior by Jackson, and says she saw girls participate equally in the activities at Neverland. She saw Davellin hanging out with the Arvizo boys, contradicting Davellin's testimony. Silva testified about the Arvizos destructive behavior at Neverland.



Culkin says that he had good clean fun with Jackson and his whole family was always invited anywhere in the house or on property. He corroborates many others who testified about how there was an open door policy regarding Jackson's suite and no room was off limits. He says the sleepovers weren't planned it's just that kids would play until they fell asleep, which could be anywhere on property. He contradicts prosecution witnesses Adrian McManus and Phillip LeMarque by stating repeatedly that he was not molested.



LeGrand worked for Jackson for 3 months in 2003, and said he found evidence that a few of the associates had stolen almost $1million from Jackson. "I became suspicious of everybody. Everybody wanted to benefit from Mr. Jackson in one way or another."





Jackson's first lawyer Mark Geragos says he was hired right around the time of the Bashir doc. He says he thought Jackson should have nothing to do with the Arvizos once he found out about their litigious history, and said Jackson was never with the Arvizos unless others were present.


They both state that the Arivzos weren't acting scared or asking for help. The orthodontist also said that Gavin was rifling through their office drawers without permission.


Gomez testifies that Janet was praising Jackson during her Neverland stay, and then was later was complaining about Jackson's associates keeping her from Jackson. Gomez testifies that she saw a backpack full of pornography in the Arvizo boys' room while cleaning. She says they were very destructive.


Meredith testifies that he caught Gavin and Star in the wine cellar by themselves, which contradicts their testimony that they only drank when Jackson gave them alcohol. Meredith also describes the Arvizo boys' behavior at the ranch as unruly, crashing gold carts and throwing trash around.



Vivanco testifies that Star Arvizo ordered him to add alcohol to a milkshake or he'd have him fired and another time Star held a knife up to his neck for no reason, making him nervous. He says the Arvizo boys showed him pornography when he brought food to their guest suite.



The social worker says that the Arvizos all said wonderful things about Jackson. She described Gavin's behavior at the interview as playful, he enjoyed the attention, and didn't display any signs of abuse. None of the Arvizos reported feeling scared or that they were being held captive. She even talked with Janet on the telephone several times after that, still not hearing anything negative that happened at Neverland. She said Janet asked her to persuade Jackson to pay for her kids to go to private school.



Simone is a cousin of Michael Jackson, who was also at Neverland when the Arvizos were there. She testifies that she saw the Arvizo boys come into the kitchen and take a wine bottle. She said Davellin told her that Janet was eager to go to Brazil.



Brother of Simone, Rijo testifies that he was 10 when hanging out with the Arvizo boys at Neverland. He says the Arvizo boys stole items from a drawer in the kitchen that belonged to the chef and saw them run out of the ranch manager's office with money.



Here's an article about Rijo Jackson and his connection to the Jackson family



Scott Ross interviews Jackson's young cousins Simone and Rijo Jackson, who were at Neverland at the same time as the Arvizos and testify that Gavin and Star were drinking without Jackson around, stealing from employees, and generally misbehaving


Watson-Johnson testifies that she became suspicious of Janet Arvizo while raising money for Gavin's cancer treatment. She had been Gavin's acting teacher and was asked by Janet to help raise money for him. She says Janet refused to set up a special bank account for donations to her son and asked Watson-Johnson to put the money in Janet's own personal account. She also testifies that she gave the Arvizos money and let them visit her, and they were very disruptive, rummaging through her things, jumping on her son's bed. She says Janet would coach the kids what to say when they called her.



Notes how Watson-Johnson abandoned her efforts to help raise money for Gavin when Janet wanted the money to go in her personal account. She also describes the boys as unruly and that they were coached by the mother to try to get more out of her.



Azja Pryor befriended the Arvizo family through her then husband Chris Tucker. She says Davellin and Gavin called her frequently. During the Arvizos stay at Neverland, she says she had frequent calls with the family, and that they never expressed any concerns or seemed scared and they were always praising Jackson. She says the Arvizos made the same praising comments about herself and Tucker, and Janet always said they were part of her family. She testifies that Janet invited her to go to Brazil with the family, but when Janet found out Jackson wasn't going, she decided not to go. This contradicts Janet's claim that she was being forced to go to Brazil.



King says shortly before the trial he had a meeting with the Arvizos' early civil attorney Larry Feldman. At this meeting King says Feldman told him that Janet was a wacko just in it for the money. King's associate Michael Viner was also at that meeting, and told them that he sent Janet and Gavin out to another expert and they failed the smell test. Viner said Feldman told them the Arvizos were in it for the money.



Manrequez testifies that Janet Arvizo applied for welfare and food stamps 2 weeks after she received the settlement money from JC Penney without disclosing the money. Also, on Janet's welfare application, Janet swore under penalty of perjury that the family did not have medical coverage, even though they actually had full coverage.




Keenan testifies that Janet Arvizo called to solicit money for Gavin's illness through running a story. She says Janet then calls back saying they didn't get enough money the first time and could she run it again. Keenan says she and her readers were duped because Janet hadn't disclosed that they had full health care coverage.


Gavin's Aunt testifies about 2 blood drives she organized for Gavin. She says Janet told her in a phone call that she didn't need blood, she needed money.


Holzer was an office manager in Janet's lawyer's practice when Janet was litigating the JC Penney case. Holzer testifies that Janet admitted to her that she lied about the photographs of bruises used to support her case against JC Penney. She said Janet threatened her when she advised Janet to tell the lawyer about her lying. She said Janet told her that she wanted her sons to become good actors so she could tell them what to say and how to behave. She said Janet wanted to be present for the psychiatric exams of Gavin and Star, and when she found out she couldn't, Janet allegedly told Holzer, "Well I'm pretty sure Gavin will get the story straight, but I'm not sure Star will remember what we practiced and what I told him to say." She describes how the Arvizo boys would pop into her office, sit on her lap, tell her how much they loved her.



Leno states that it was unusual that Gavin would call him directly, since he was the one to usually call kids with illnesses. He says the messages from Gavin were too effusive. When they talked on the phone directly, he found Gavin to be adult-like and heard someone talking in the background next to Gavin. This contradicts Gavin's testimony, who said he hadn't actually talked to Leno. In Leno's police interview, he said he could hear the mother in the background and said he thought the Arvizos were looking for a mark in Jackson.



Tucker is the final defense witness. Tucker says he was asked by the family to attend a fundraiser for Gavin at the Laugh Factory. He says Gavin told him afterwards they didn't make any money, so Tucker wired $1500 to them. Tucker says all of the Arvizos would call him frequently and he tried to do nice things for them. He says Gavin asked him for money. Tucker describes how the Arvizos overextended their stay on the Rush Hour 2 set, and were very disruptive. He considered Gavin and Star to be very sophisticated for their age, very smart, and very cunning, especially the indirect manner they used to ask for things.



This post explains Tom Sneddon's clever move filing a last minute motion after the defense rested its case. This motion was to enter into evidence Jordan Chandler's drawing and photos of Jackson's privates, knowing full well the judge wouldn't allow it because of the timing.


In late May, the judge allows the addition of 4 misdemeanor charges, which is described by Tom Mesereau as tossing the prosecution a bone, and described in the press as giving the jury an out, so they can say he did some wrong, but for a lesser charge.





2 months after the end of the trial, on August 23, 2005, Janet Arvizo is charged with welfare fraud.





After Jackson's death, Martin Bashir publicly mourns Jackson's death and he contradicts all of his narration in his documentary by saying he never saw he wrongdoing in the 8 months of unlimited access he had with Jackson, and didn't believe Jackson committed any wrongdoing.



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.












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