One of the customary acts of a judge who presides over a high-profile case such as the Michael Jackson case is to issue a gag order, binding all parties pertinent to the case to silence in order to prevent leaks and to maintain fairness for both sides. Not surprisingly, the minute Michael Jackson was arrested, his former defense attorney Mark Geragos called a press conference declaring the innocence of his client and labelling the latest accuser’s mother a scam artist. Shortly after, there a gag order was issued and press conferences became a thing of the past. This was supposed to prevent public grandstanding, jury tainting, and leaking of prejudicial information that could prevent Mr. Jackson from receiving a fair trial. Despite these limitations, however, Tom Sneddon has creatively found several viable and willing avenues by which to sidestep that trite and flimsy thing known as a gag order:
Ask anyone in the public relations business (other than Susan Tellem, of course) whether or not there is any issue with a public relations firm representing a District Attorney’s office and you might get more than your share of stares and questions. Yet, Sneddon and Ms. Tellem insist that Tellem International is merely handling media requests and concerns for the sake of efficiency. In addition, Ms. Tellem offered her services for free. Wow! Score one point for benevolence! Not.
Tellem, via its prime connections to Sneddon’s Girl Friday Diane Dimond and other major media outlets like Fox, has been instrumental in spreading poisonous and venomous stories about Jackson. Even worse, the firm also managed to sponsor jury tainting stories that have been carried by such illustrious news programs as the Dan Abrams show and Catherine Crier Live. There are far too many examples of these shady jury pool tainting tactics. Consider this crass comment from their website concerning the case and their standing in it:
“The first thing you learn in Journalism School is to check sources. Some media have relied on third-tier sources like Brian Oxman, a self-appointed Jackson family spokesman, to do their fact checking for them. This has resulted in inaccurate information. We request that media give us call if they need to check facts.”1
It simply makes little sense to us that a public relations firm with no bias concerning Jackson’s guilt or innocence would be accusing a Jackson defense attorney of lying. This statement is an obvious attempt to discredit any source that provides information that contradicts what their client would like to surface. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of reliable sources are the ones providing information favorable to the defense.
In addition, Tellem should be the very last place for one to “check facts” considering that they only know how to tell one side of a story. We do understand that they are faithfully representing their client; however, they would do well to take others to task for merely saying things their “client” would agree with.
When Tellem is not taking personal swipes at Jackson attorneys and supporters, they are pushing the envelope of professional ethics. Consider one of their prime acts as representatives for the prosecution: “In addition, Tellem used AP as a breaking news tool since the DA’s office had no budget for BusinessWire or other fast acting national distribution service. When a story needed telling, Tellem contacted AP, and they put it on the wire immediately.” But Tellem gets even bolder concerning their “mission” when they remind us that “On January 8, 2004, the DA requested a gag order, which remains in place. While this has reduced the number of calls, each time there is a court appearance, they begin again. An unexpected consequence of working with the DA were death threats from Jackson fans (these were turned over to the FBI).”2
We are simply floored by the blurring of professional and ethical lines in the media. How are we to receive objective news from AP when Tellem uses it as its own little mouthpiece to spread the gospel of Sneddon? One would think that Tellem had the “budget” to use BusinessWire to accommodate their client. We are not simply arguing that they do not have the right but merely pointing out the blurring of ethical lines that could jeopardize news on any case or issue being reported objectively.
Equally troubling to us are the claims that Jackson fans have threatened Tellem. We do not under any circumstance condone any so-called fan threatening the life of anyone regardless of what side of this case they happen to be on. Such behavior is not only illegal and abominable but morally repugnant. We do, however, believe that it is absolutely necessary that such claims be followed up and reported on in order to remove the specter or stain of guilt upon anyone who supports Jackson or may happen to be a fan.
For someone who has not been sheriff of Santa Barbara since 2003, Jim Thomas sure has gotten a great deal of mileage out of tossing his status around on television in order to cop TV time. Thomas of course has been a mouthpiece for Sneddon over the last eleven years. Eager for face time and free drinks (please Dimond segment), Thomas has done nothing but lie on national television, repeating his mantra that he knows of numerous “other victims” who are too afraid to come forward and accuse Jackson.
Thomas, from the time this nonsensical railroad job began, has made a big issue that Jackson’s settling of the 1993 allegations should be a strong indication that the pop legend is guilty and clearly has something to hide.
One has to wonder, however, if Thomas really believes this since he was a part of a settlement in February 2001 involving the Santa Barbara County Libertarian Party (SBLP). The SBLP had accused the good former sheriff of misappropriation of tax payer dollars after he apparently used $10,000 to produce an endorsement video of a measure he was supporting. Thomas insisted that the $15,000 settlement that Santa Barbara County officials procured “doesn’t assign blame. It is an agreement between sides not to go any further.” Of course, Bill Hansult, the attorney representing the SBLP in the case, had another take. “In essence, the sheriff stole taxpayer money, defended himself with taxpayer money, and the fine was paid with taxpayer money.”3
This is not the first time actions attributed to Thomas or his department has cost Santa Barbara big money. Thomas and his merry band of deputies also cost Santa Barbara County taxpayers a cool $1 million after some of his subordinates allegedly beat up two men at a bar in Lompoc in 2001.4 If we follow Thomas’ line of reasoning that a settlement on Jackson’s part is a clear sign of guilt, then what are we to make of the settlements he was involved in?
We are not surprised that Thomas is involved in the current case against Mr. Jackson. After all, according to one source, he was spotted having drinks after a court hearing with Diane Dimond and Maureen Orth, two tabloid writers who are anything but objective when it comes to reporting on Jackson. From what we understand, the loquacious Thomas appeared to be mighty chummy with Dimond and Orth.
Ray Chandler is the kind of uncle anyone would want to have. He spends countless years selling his “story” of sordid tales of the sexual abuse of his “victimized” nephew Jordan Chandler. Furthermore, he continues to show his love for his nephew by writing a book about the boy’s alleged ordeal, questioning the young man’s sexuality, and continuing to profit off of an alleged childhood incidence of sexual abuse at the hands of a living music legend. Of course, there is no mention as to whether Chandler’s troubled nephew will receive any of the proceeds from All That Glitters, a book that tells the story of a poorly written sham with as much flatness and banal imagery as one would find in a Bill O’Reilly novel (Yes, he wrote one and it is a flaming hot mess).
To put it succinctly, Ray Chandler is a liar. Hence, it should not be shocking that, in an attempt to perpetuate a distorted and felonious image of Jackson, Dateline NBC used this man as a source for a number of their damaging exposes concerning the case. But do not think for a minute that Chandler suddenly stumbled upon the idea to use an alleged devastating incident to his own economic gain. Chandler has been hocking his version of the events surrounding the 1993 allegations for several years. In 1998, Chandler claimed to have already had what we now call All That Glitters completed and even threatened to release dozens of pages of the project onto the Internet.5
Even more ridiculous was a 1995 interview he conducted with Entertainment Weekly in which he claimed that despite Jackson’s alleged victimization of his nephew, “It’s too bad to see his career take the hit it did and we all hope he gets it back.”6 Does this care and concern for Jackson and his career square with the care and concern one would have for a predator who preys on innocent children? This simply does not make sense.
The contradictions did not stop with this nearly ten year old interview. In his book All That Glitters, Chandler makes a number of bumbling and utterly ridiculous contradictory statements about the 1993 case.
First, he admits that the main reason media whore lawyer Gloria Allred was dismissed as the leading attorney for Evan Chandler and his son was because she was too insistent on seeking media attention. He maintains that the last thing his brother Evan and his brother’s attorney Barry Rothman wanted was too much media attention since they wanted to settle the case quietly and get the money as quickly and expeditiously as possible. Enter crooked tort lawyer and crooked toothed Larry Feldman.
Such an admission is utterly amazing. Ray Chandler rants throughout the book about how irate and disturbed Evan Chandler was over the possibility that Mr. Jackson had molested his son. It is highly unlikely that the average father would have taken great pains to protect the privacy of the man who victimized his young son unless of course there was no molestation, just a merciless scam to get money from the unsuspecting Jackson. Clearly Evan Chandler was more concerned with getting his multi-million dollar settlement than he was with his son. In a phrase, it was “all about the benjamins.”
Another ridiculous and contradictory element of Chandler’s book was the documentation he provided to support his claims. Contrary to his claim that his documents provide the hard facts of Jackson’s guilt, they actually point to something altogether different. For instance, the authenticity of several documents has been called into question by Barry Rothman’s former secretary Geraldine Hughes. On MJJF.com, Ms. Hughes insisted that she is certain that a number of the documents purported to be typed by her are actual forgeries since she did not type them.7 Her accusation is also supported by clear evidence of the forgery of Barry Rothman’s signature. Compare the following signatures:
Though none involved with the Veritas Project are, as far as we know, handwriting experts, the Three Blind Mice could see that the “Rothman” signatures do not match. Even more remarkable is the fact that one of the documents is not even signed by “Rothman.” It is one thing to use authentic legal documents to substantiate your point. It is quite another thing, however, to use falsified papers to attempt to do the same. One could wonder how Ray Chandler, a lawyer since 2001, could commit such an act of fraud in a book not even worth the paper it is written on. However, considering that Chandler got his “law” degree from the very college where Tom Sneddon “teaches” law students every unethical thing he knows, one has to assume that Chandler took notes well from his master.
Some of Chandler’s “proof” supplied at the end of his book actually support the claims of Hughes and Mary Fischer, the investigative reporter who wrote the GQ Magazine article “Was Michael Jackson Framed?” The documents concerning the custody issues as well the negotiations between then-Jackson investigator Anthony Pellicano and Barry Rothman only support what Hughes and Fischer wrote, not what Chandler is trying to put over on us.
Perhaps the most despicable element about Chandler’s book is its dogged portrayal of Michael Jackson’s sexuality. The loving uncle spends essentially the entire book trying to get readers to believe one thing: Michael Jackson is a closet homosexual. Chandler even tries to cite psychological studies to prove that Jackson is a gay pedophile. Consider this quote: “Whatever the nature of his son’s relationship with Michael, Evan believed the singer truly loved Jordie and would not put either of their lives in jeopardy just to conceal his homosexuality.”8 Chandler makes this comment after a discussion about Evan Chandler’s concerns that Jackson may have been exposed to the AIDS virus due to being treated by a dentist who was allegedly infected with the deadly virus.
Chandler’s assumption that Jackson is gay is also supposed to be supported by a “love letter” Jackson allegedly wrote to Jordan:
“[Boy’s name], you’re not only my cousin but also my best friend. I can’t stop loving your mother and sister. I have found true love in all of you. If more people were like us the world would change instantly. I have such golden dreams for you. I want you to be a giant in the industry. You are my new inspiration. I love you. Doo doo head. Applehead. Disneyland soon. Love, doo doo. Call soon, bye, doo doo head. Tell Mom I love her.”9
The substance of the letter is not convincing. In fact, one would be better served inferring Jackson’s fondness for Jordan’s mother June rather than for the boy. Anyone who can detect the slightest sexual tension or innuendo between Jackson and the boy needs as much counseling as Jackson critics claim he needs. If nothing else, the letter he leaked to prove Jackson’s proclivity for Jordan actually shows Jackson having a loving relationship with Jordie’s entire family, particularly Jordan’s mother June as well as his sister. It is not the least bit shocking that Chandler may have been a source for Victor Gutierrez’s horrific book Michael Jackson Was My Lover (more on that nonsense later).
Shamefully, Ray Chandler’s book has garnered more attention than Ms. Hughes’ Redemption, a book whose documentation is far more reliable than the former. Even worse, NBC has placed a great deal of faith in Chandler’s lies, giving him a place on another Jackson-bashing Dateline exclusive in September 2004. But the media feeds on sensational lies and innuendos to grab big ratings and advertising dollars. There is, however, one silver lining in this dark cloud of a sham: Ray Chandler did get the attention of someone with his stories – Jackson’s defense attorneys, who promptly subpoenaed him as a “custodian of documents.” Now, the caring uncle will get to tell an eager audience of his “peers” whether or not the documents he has been shopping around to the media are actually authentic. In addition, he will have to explain how he, not even a part of this 1993 settlement, has possession of those records. Ray Chandler, you’re going to be a STAR!
VICTOR GUTIERREZ: TABLOID FUGITIVE
As damaging as Diane Dimond’s and Ray Chandler’s respective smear campaigns have been against Jackson, none of their activities could have been possible without the help of Victor Gutierrez. In 1997, Victor Gutierrez released Michael Jackson was my Lover, a tell-all book that describes in detail the alleged relationship that took place between Michael Jackson and his accuser. Included in Gutierrez’s supposed expose are exclusive documents from the case, never before seen photographs of Jordan Chandler and excerpts from a “secret diary” that was allegedly kept by the boy. Because this information could have only been provided to Gutierrez by somebody close to the case, many began to speculate that the accuser’s father Evan Chandler might have assisted Gutierrez in writing the book.
In addition, this sophomoric, pornographic, C-Level farce of a book claimed that Jackson had given the boy a venereal disease. One book reviewer described Michael Jackson was my Lover as a “pedophiliac opus” and recounted some of the salacious details contained in the book: “…the photo section alone includes sketches of the [Jackson’s] genitalia, photos of the ‘actual bathroom’ where alleged sexual transgression took place, as well as snapshots of one of the reputed victim’s ‘shit and urine stain[ed]’ underwear… results of [the boy’s] VD test, explicit transcripts detailing [Jackson’s] seduction techniques… [and] the identities of several other child stars who reportedly had sex with Jackson.”10 Needless to say, the book was banned from the United States due to its explicit content.
Shortly after releasing Michael Jackson was my Lover, Gutierrez began making the TV rounds. During an appearance on the tabloid television show Hard Copy, Gutierrez told reporter Diane Dimond that he had seen a videotape of Michael Jackson molesting his nephew Jeremy. According to Gutierrez, the alleged tape had been captured by one of Jackson’s security cameras and given to the boy’s mother by an unknown source. Upon viewing the tape’s contents, Gutierrez says, the mother contacted the Los Angeles Police Department only to have her claims ignored by investigators. Unsure of what to do, she got in contact with Gutierrez, arranged a meeting with him in a hotel room and showed him the alleged tape.
“And now she is scared,” Gutierrez told Dimond. “The District Attorney is trying to get these tapes and I guess through my sources, they already (sic) been in contact with the mother. So, it’s up to the mother now to make the final decision.”11
In response to the allegations, Jackson filed a defamation of character lawsuit against Victor Gutierrez and Hard Copy. During the civil proceedings, the boy’s mother Margaret Maldonado testified that, contrary to what Gutierrez had reported, neither of her two sons had been molested by Jackson, she had not received any money from Jackson and she had never met Victor Gutierrez.12
Maldonado later discussed the case in her book Jackson Family Values:
“I received a telephone call from a writer named Ruth Robinson. I had known Ruth for quite a while and respected her integrity. It made what she had to tell me all the more difficult to hear. ‘I wanted to warn you, Margaret,’ she said. ‘There’s a story going around that there is a videotape of Michael molesting one of your sons, and that you have the tape.’ If anyone else had said those words, I would have hung up the phone. Given the long relationship I had with Ruth, however, I gave her the courtesy of a response. I told her that it wasn’t true, of course, and that I wanted the story stopped in its tracks. She had been in contact with someone who worked at the National Enquirer who had alerted her that a story was being written for that paper. Ruth cross-connected me with the woman, and I vehemently denied the story. Moreover, I told her that if the story ran, I would own the National Enquirer before the lawsuits I brought were finished.
To its credit, the National Enquirer never ran the piece. Hard Copy, however, decided it would. Hard Copy correspondent Diane Dimond had reported that authorities were reopening the child molestation case against Michael. She had also made the allegations on L.A. radio station KABC-AM on a morning talk show hosted by Roger Barkley and Ken Minyard. Dimond’s claims were based on the word of a freelance writer named Victor Gutierrez. The story was an outrageous lie. Not one part of it was true. I’d never met the man. There was no tape. Michael never paid me for my silence. He had never molested Jeremy. Period.”13
In court, Gutierrez could not produce the videotape that he claimed to have viewed and he refused to reveal his source. According to Jackson’s attorney Zia Modabber, “Gutierrez told a D.A. Investigator and two witnesses who testified at the trial that the boy’s mother was his source. He told anyone who would listen. The only people he would not tell were the ladies and gentlemen of his jury – that’s when he became ethical. Now he’s getting on his high horse saying he’s protecting his source.”
Superior Court Judge Reginald Dunn ruled that Gutierrez’s story was false and the jury subsequently awarded Jackson $2.7 million in damages. “[Gutierrez] made the whole thing up, and we sued him for it,” Modabber said.14
According to Ruben Rasso, a member of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, Gutierrez then fled from the United States and moved to Chile in order to avoid paying Jackson the money.15
In November 2003, when Jackson was accused of child molestation for a second time, Gutierrez began giving interviews about the case to Chilean newspapers. He claimed that the new set of allegations validated the contents of his book and as a result, Jackson had defamed his character and now owed him money. Gutierrez even went so far as to say that Jackson’s 2,700-acre ranch would soon be his.16
During an interview with La Cuarta, Gutierrez alleged that Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon had contacted him about being a potential witness in the current case against Jackson. A week later, a member of the District Attorney’s office contacted La Cuarta to refute those claims.17
In early 2004, Gutierrez was offered $25, 000 a month from Dateline NBC to cover the Jackson case. He accepted the offer and is now a consulting producer for the news program. Given the fact that Gutierrez has irrefutably fabricated stories about Jackson in the past, one must question NBC’s decision to hire Gutierrez to cover the case.18
Recently, Dateline NBC aired a report entitled Inside the Michael Jackson Case; the credits reveal that Gutierrez was the consulting producer for the program. Not surprisingly, Inside the Michael Jackson Case was heavily slanted in favour of the prosecution’s version of events and was laced with numerous falsehoods, half-truths and innuendos. Again, Gutierrez is a proven liar, particularly when it comes to Michael Jackson. Is NBC intentionally trying to taint the jury pool by hiring a man who clearly has an axe to grind with Jackson to produce a program about his case?
So far, NBC has not commented on Gutierrez’s involvement with Inside the Michael Jackson Case. How this man has enough credibility to have a job with ANY network is beyond belief. Whether due to hypnotic stupidity or mean-spirited revenge against Jackson, Gutierrez and Dateline have turned trashing Jackson into an Olympic sport. But rest assured, we see Gutierrez involved in another Olympic sport once Jackson’s good name has been cleared: dodging a subpoena.
1“Tried by the Media.” Spin of the Day. PR Watch Forums. 26 Dec. 2003. (http://www.prwatch.org/forum/showthread.php?p=6983&mode;=linear)
2“Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office – Michael Jackson Case.” Case Histories. Tellem Worldwide. 2004. (http://www.tellem.com/case_histories_santa_barbara_da.html)
3Moeeziai, Ladan. “SB Board of Supervisors Pays SB Libertarian Party Settlement.” Daily Nexus Online. 7 Feb. 2001. (http://www.ucsbdailynexus.com/news/2001/345.html)
4White, Karen. “Man files suit against 8 officers.” The Santa Maria Times. 5 Mar. 2002.
5South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), October 31, 1998.
6Diana Kennedy et al, “Can He Beat It?” Entertainment Weekly. 16 Jun. 1995.
7Hughes, Geraldine. “Redemption vs. All that Glitters.” Online Posting. MJJForum. 13 Sept. 2004. (http://www.mjjforum.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=36789)
8Chandler, Ray. All That Glitters. Las Vegas: Windsong Press LTD, 2004, 51.
9Friedman, Roger. “MJ First Accuser: Parents Thought he was Gay.” Fox 411. Fox News.(http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,131860,00.html)
10Book Review – Victor Gutierrez
11MICHAEL JACKSON, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. PARAMOUNT PICTURES CORPORATION et al., Defendants and Respondents.
12Ryan, Joal. “Michael Jackson’s Victory.” Latest News. E! Online News. (http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,2828,00.html)
13Maldonado, Margaret. Jackson Family Values. 1998. California: Dove Books.
14Robb, David. “$2.7 million to Jackson for free-lancer’s sex-tape lie.” The Hollywood Reporter. 13 Apr. 1998.
15“Jackson arriesga más que la cárcel: Podría perder hasta a sus tres hijos.” La Cuarta. 24 Nov. 2003. (http://www.lacuarta.cl/diario/2003/11/24/24.23.4a.ESP.JACKSON.html)
16“Víctor Gutiérrez prepara revancha: ‘El rancho de Jackson será mío…'” La Cuarta. 22 Nov. 2003. (http://www.lacuarta.cl/diario/2003/11/22/22.17.4a.ESP.GUTIERREZ.html)
18“Jackson arriesga más que la cárcel: Podría perder hasta a sus tres hijos.” La Cuarta. 24 Nov. 2003. (http://www.lacuarta.cl/diario/2003/11/24/24.23.4a.ESP.JACKSON.html)
19“Víctor Gutiérrez firmó millonario contrato.” El Diario Austral de Valdivia. 4 Jan. 2004. (http://www.australvaldivia.cl/site/edic/20040104042125/pags/20040104053827.html)
20Mankiewicz, Josh. “New Details About 1993 Jackson Case.” Dateline NBC. MSNBC. 3 Sept. 2004. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5906855)