Two Michael Jackson Jurors Regret Acquittal
LOS ANGELES – Two of the jurors who voted to acquit Michael Jackson (search) of child molestation and other charges say they regret their decisions and only went along with the others after a jury foreman threatened to remove them from the panel.
Jurors Eleanor Cook (search) and Ray Hultman (search), who both have pending book deals, said in a televised interview Monday night that they believed the singer's young accuser was sexually assaulted.
"No doubt in my mind whatsoever, that boy was molested, and I also think he enjoyed to some degree being Michael Jackson's toy," Cook said on a cable news show.
Jackson defense attorney Tom Mesereau dismissed the jurors' comments as "embarrassing and outrageous."
"The bottom line is it makes no difference what they're saying. It really is a non-event," Mesereau said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Twelve people deliberated and out of that process justice is supposed to result. Now two months later these jurors are changing their tunes. They clearly like being on TV. I'm very suspicious."
The jurors' comments will have no bearing on the verdict, which prosecutors cannot appeal.
Cook and Hultman said they agreed to go along with the other jurors when it became apparent that they would never convict the pop star. The two denied being motivated by money and tried to explain why they were coming forward now.
"There were a lot of people that were interested in this case from day one. People expect to know what's going on with their justice system and how things work," Hultman said.
Added Cook: "I'm speaking out now because I believe it's never too late to tell the truth."
Cook and Hultman also alleged that jury foreman Paul Rodriguez threatened to have them kicked off the jury.
"He said if I could not change my mind or go with the group, or be more understanding, that he would have to notify the bailiff, the bailiff would notify the judge, and the judge would have me removed," Cook said in a transcript provided by MSNBC.
Hultman said he also felt threatened and didn't want to get kicked off the trial.
A call to Rodriguez was not returned. A jury foreman cannot remove other jurors just for disagreeing.
Cook was asked if the other jurors will be angry with her.
"They can be as angry as they want to. They ought to be ashamed. They're the ones that let a pedophile go," responded Cook, 79.
Hultman, 62, said he was upset with the way other jurors approached the case: "The thing that really got me the most was the fact that people just wouldn't take those blinders off long enough to really look at all the evidence that was there."
The New York Daily News first reported Aug. 4 that Hultman and Cook planned books and believed Jackson was guilty.
Hultman has said that when jurors took an anonymous poll early in their deliberations he was one of three jurors who voted for conviction.
On June 13, the jurors unanimously acquitted Jackson of all charges, which alleged that he molested a 13-year-old boy, plied the boy with wine and conspired to hold him and his family captive so they would make a video rebutting a damaging television documentary.
"The air reeked of hatred and people were angry and I had never been in an atmosphere like that before," Cook said.
In June, Hultman told the AP about the verdict: "That's not to say he's an innocent man. He's just not guilty of the crimes he's been charged with."
During an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" with five other jurors in June, Cook was one of three who raised their hands when asked if they thought Jackson may have molested other children but not the 13-year-old boy.
"We had our suspicions, but we couldn't judge on that because it wasn't what we were there to do," she said at the time.
Hultman's book will be called "The Deliberator" and Cook's is "Guilty as Sin, Free as a Bird," said Larry Garrison, a producer who is working with both on their separate books and a combined television movie. Part of the profits from their book sales will go to charity, he said.