The family of a 12-year-old-boy who said he was abused by Michael Jackson a decade ago accepted a $23 million settlement because he was denied a request made to the Los Angeles district attorney for witness protection. That's what the boy's uncle told me last night.
Ray Chandler, uncle of the 12-year-old boy, to whom Jackson paid a $23 million settlement in 1994, is about to publish a book about the entire episode.
In it, he will expose what he described to me last night as "all the facts" of the child-molestation case brought on behalf of his nephew against Jackson in 1993.
Among Chandler's claims: Gil Garcetti, then Los Angeles County district attorney, refused to put the family into the Witness Protection Program after they'd received numerous death threats.
When Garcetti declined, categorizing the threats as minimal, the boy's father decided not to go forward with the case, Chandler says.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon, now prosecuting Jackson on a new child-molestation claim, was hamstrung because of Garcetti's decision, Chandler said.
Chandler, brother of the now-24-year-old accuser's father, told me last night he has been estranged from both his brother and nephew for about four years. But when he saw the Martin Bashir special, "Living With Michael Jackson," in February 2003, he felt it was time someone set the record straight.
In the special, Jackson held hands with a 12-year-old boy who he said slept in his bed. He also defended having children sleep in his bed and in his room.
"It gave me the willies," Chandler said.
It is presumed that Chandler's brother and nephew signed a confidentiality agreement in 1994. But Chandler, who practices law in the city of Santa Barbara, insisted in last night's phone conversation that his book is unauthorized, unsanctioned and unconnected to the rest of his family.
He said his brother and nephew "are not participating in the book," which will retail between $14 and $25. Only Chandler will receive royalties from its sales.
The book, "All That Glitters: The Crime and the Cover Up," will be in bookstores and online around Sept. 12. It is not being issued by an established publisher. Chandler told me he is self-publishing it in order to control the content.
"I had friends in the business read it and they said I would have to water it down to get it published," he told me, "even though it's based on facts and has evidence to back it up."
The evidence, Chandler said, would be many never-before-seen legal documents concerning the case. After Sept. 12, he's planning to put some of them on his Web site.
These documents will include the boy's deposition and sworn testimony in his civil case against Jackson, which ended with the $23 million settlement.
Chandler told me he's ready to defend himself against skeptics and critics who will no doubt assail him as greedy or disloyal to his family.
"This whole thing is never going to end if it's buried. It has to be exposed," he said. "It's been written about in other places. All I'm doing is exposing the real facts."
Playing devil's advocate, I asked Chandler why his brother didn't reject the $23 million settlement offer and instead allow the state to go ahead with its case against Jackson.
That one development seems to have fueled DA Sneddon's decade-long desire to see Michael Jackson prosecuted as a child molester.
Chandler maintained that his family had been so harassed that it wanted the case to go away quickly.
With Jackson facing a January 2005 trial on charges of child molestation, Chandler's book should cause a firestorm. For one thing, it validates much in a previously published book by Victor Gutierrez — banned in the U.S. — that chronicled Jackson's relationships with several children, including Chandler's nephew.
But Ray Chandler said he did not endorse that book. "Victor Gutierrez is a sleazebag," he said.
Chandler also takes issue in his book with a 1994 article in GQ magazine by Mary Fischer that portrayed the boy's case as something not so far short of extortion against Jackson.
"Mary Fischer made a lot of mistakes," Chandler said. "She was extremely sloppy. I think she got a lot of her information from Anthony Pellicano," he said, referring to Jackson's former private investigator, who is currently incarcerated on charges of illegal wiretapping. "There was a manipulation of facts."
So this is going to be some wild week for Michael Jackson, considering earlier revelations of payoffs to other children and families. Ray Chandler is determined to tell the story of what happened between his family and Michael Jackson, regardless of whether anyone in his family wants him to or not.
So fasten your seatbelts, kids. This is only the beginning.
Labor Day weekend in the Hamptons: The celebrities came out and so did their lookalikes.
At Jean-Luc East restaurant's first anniversary, two young ladies who resembled Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen caused a commotion when folks thought the fabled "Full House" twins were dining among them.
Alas, they were not, but Lindsay Lohan's gregarious father, Michael, was spotted at the boîte that has fast become the Hamptons hotspot.
Meanwhile, Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs (whose first Sean John store on Fifth Avenue looks like a winner) and Russell Simmons were among the hip-hoppers seen at one movie screening, while Jamie-Lynn DiScala — Meadow Soprano to you — and Lance Bass of 'N Sync fame and Patricia Duff were among those who caroused with the revelers at a private do in Water Mill late Saturday night.
At Bob Felner and Bryan Bantry's Goose Creek, the big showing was on Sunday for the wonderful new Fox Searchlight film "Sideways."
Co-writer Jim Taylor, his wife (director of "Slums of Beverly Hills") Tamara Jenkins, "Oz"/"Thirtysomething" actor/director Terry Kinney and his wife, actress Kathryn Erbe, and producer Marty Bregman were among the guests who dined on lamb and canneloni while they kvelled over the film. (I will tell you more tomorrow about "Sideways," don't worry.)