Michael Jackson

Seeking Truth in the Jacko Case

U.S. Army Maj. Jay D. Jackson may not have told the complete truth Tuesday when he took the witness stand in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial.

The question is: Will Jay Jackson's testimony be considered a white lie, or something worse?

Jay Jackson, the husband of Janet Arvizo, mother of Michael Jackson's accuser, and no relation to Jacko himself, said under oath that he did not sell a story to a pair of British tabloid reporters in February 2003.

Questioned by prosecutor Ron Zonen, Jay Jackson conceded that when the reporters, David Gardner of The Daily Mail and photographer Alec Byrne, came to him, he immediately asked them for compensation.

But, he testified, after a couple days of negotiations — and an offer from The Mail for $15,000 —he turned them down.

In fact, Jay Jackson repeatedly denied on the stand that he ever took money for a story about Michael Jackson.

Well, that's true, and yet it isn't completely true.

The truth is that Jay Jackson and Janet Arvizo did sell a story to Gardner and Byrne. The story was published on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2003, in The Daily Mail, and then ran in Australia the next day. It had quotes from both the accuser's mother and her friend, comedy-club owner Jamie Masada. I told you about this article, which was never published in the United States, some time ago.

But no money ever changed hands, and The Mail wound up getting it for free.

I am told by sources that Gardner and Byrne conducted part of the interview, took pictures of the family and got other pictures from them.

But when they testify in the defense portion of the Michael Jackson trial, the two journalists will have an interesting story to tell, one that will provide a missing piece of the puzzle in this bizarre tale.

According to my sources, Gardner and Byrne finished Part 1 of the interview on Feb. 4, 2003, right after the accuser and his family were featured in the British broadcast of the Martin Bashir documentary "Living With Michael Jackson." They planned to get Part 2 the next day.

But when Gardner and Byrne returned to the family's apartment on Feb. 5, they were surprised to find them completely gone.

Ironically, both Jay Jackson and Janet Arvizo had negotiated a fee even higher than $15,000 with the British reporters. But they and the kids had vanished overnight.

The reporters, I am told, surmised that Jay Jackson must have realized that if merely knowing Michael Jackson (there was no molestation allegation at the time) was worth at least $15,000 to The Daily Mail, then it must have been worth even more to … Michael Jackson.

The thinking is that Jay Jackson and Janet Arvizo called Neverland and told someone there what was going on. The result was that the family was quickly whisked away to Miami.

The scenario makes sense and suddenly explains why Michael Jackson — who was in Miami at the time — wanted the family brought to him immediately.

The commonly accepted reason is that the family came to Miami to be part of a press conference. But no such event ever materialized, and the family returned with Michael Jackson by private plane to Neverland within 48 hours.

Now it seems that the Miami trip may have been triggered by a call from Jay Jackson and the accuser's mother.

"How else would Michael have known they were in 'danger' from the media?" asks a source. Good point.

It may have been only at that moment that Michael Jackson's managers, Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer, realized that the accuser and his family were vulnerable to questioning from tabloid reporters.

Wiesner and Konitzer likely put together the plan to keep the family isolated and entertained for a period — a plan which was bungled and then mushroomed into what is now called "The Conspiracy."

Gardner's story, by the way, will be key to Michael Jackson's defense, because the truncated interview occurred right before all hell broke loose.

In the story, Janet Arvizo — with no prompting from anyone — said: "Michael has brought something special into our lives. All of my kids have stayed over with Michael. I am comfortable with that. ... They are happy with him and have a lot of fun. They are hoping to travel the world with him. He is their angel."

Masada, a family friend, discounted rumors of possible inappropriate behavior to Gardner: "[The accuser] is not a naive kid. He would have said if something bad had happened."

Meanwhile, Jay Jackson will have some problems on the stand as his cross-examination by defense attorney Thomas Mesereau continues on Wednesday.

His truthfulness about the Daily Mail reporters hinges on his claim that he didn't take money. He also testified very clearly that he never told the accuser's mother about the monetary offers or the amounts involved.

That, I am told, is simply untrue. Janet Arvizo, who sounded very articulate and composed on a tape recording played in court Tuesday, is said to have participated in the negotiations with Gardner and Byrne.

As an addendum to this, there is also the matter of Jay Jackson's evident astonishment in court Tuesday as Mesereau played a 20-minute tape made by private investigator Brad Miller of Janet Arvizo and her three children.

On the tape, the family members waxed poetic about Michael Jackson being their savior and father figure.

At the time, they were living in Jay Jackson's home, and he considered himself their surrogate dad.

No mention was made by any of the family members of Jay Jackson. It was as if he didn't exist.

As the tape played, Jay Jackson rocked back and forth in the witness chair, drank a pitcher of water and wiped sweat from his brow.

It was a stroke of brilliance on the part of Mesereau to subject the witness to this evident humiliation.

The tape made him seem like a sucker in a con game, one made all the worse since he later married Janet Arvizo and now has a baby with her.