By Terry Odenigbo
Rumors had swirled around Michael Jackson since the first public allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor child were aired amidst a 1993 civil lawsuit that was eventually settled out of court. A decade later, on November 19, 2003, an embattled Jackson prepared to face criminal charges of a similar nature when a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of child molestation. Though he would be acquitted two years later of each criminal count on which he was eventually tried, the erstwhile King of Pop suffered many blows to his already damaged reputation and finances while facing the charges filed on this day in 2003.
In fact, this day in 2003 was the second bad November 19th in a row for Michael Jackson, who had been caught on camera dangling his infant son from a hotel balcony in Berlin, Germany, exactly one year earlier. And that incident was only the most recent occurrence to have helped transform Jackson’s image from that of a beloved pop idol to that of a tabloid curiosity.
It was in this environment that a British television crew led by reporter Martin Bashir secured Jackson’s cooperation in the production of a documentary called Living With Michael Jackson, a film the ended up leaving Jackson feeling “devastated and utterly betrayed,” according to a statement he released after its initial airing. Living With Michael Jacksonincluded interview footage in which Jackson discussed having had children sleep in his bed with him during their visits to his now-infamous Neverland Ranch. It was this footage that led directly to Jackson’s arrest on this day in 2003 after the mother of one of his alleged victims—a 13-year-old cancer patient at the time of the alleged incidents—filed a criminal complaint in Santa Barbara County.
More than a year later, the case of The People of the State of California v. Michael Joseph Jackson went to trial, with Jackson facing four counts each of molesting a minor and intoxicating a minor, one count of abduction and one count of conspiracy to hold his alleged victim and the victim’s parent’s hostage at Neverland Ranch. On June 13, 2005, however, Jackson was acquitted on all 10 counts.
Shortly after his trial, Jackson announced his intention to leave the United States and settle permanently in the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain. He would return to the U.S. in late 2006 however, though not to Neverland Ranch, which Jackson lost sole ownership of amid the financial struggles that dogged him up until his death in Los Angeles