Mining the Headlines

Dishing about the legal and psychological implications of the day's news

Michael Jackson and Sexual Abuse

Was Michael Jackson a sexual predator or not?

I've been asked a number of time how I can be sympathetic to Michael Jackson when he was a possible child molester.

As an expert in sexual abuse, I have long suspected that Jackson was sexually abused (along with the well-documented physical and emotional abuse he suffered). I've worked with both victims and predators, and every predator I worked with was repeating behavior that had once been done to them.

I can admire Michael Jackson's talents and gifts, and be sympathetic about his lost and difficult childhood, yet not condone behavior in him that may have been abusive to others. When I learned about the sexual abuse my father had experienced as a child, I was thankful to have an explanation for his abuse of me, although it did not in any way excuse his actions.

After watching every step of Jackson's trial, I personally thought there was evidence of guilt. However, the malicious prosecution by DA Sneddon made a fair trial impossible. So despite the evidence, I was relieved when Jackson was found not guilty. Post-trial, some jurors acknowledged that they felt Jackson had actually been guilty, but they reached their verdict based on the judge's appropriately narrow guidelines for conviction.

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It's not easy to hold two contradictory feelings inside-sympathetic understanding of a situation along with a vision of wrongdoing. Michael Jackson's life was itself a study in contradiction. May he indeed rest in peace.

Deborah King, New York Times best-selling health & wellness author, speaker, and attorney.


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