What About Mr. Jackson’s Trial?
A Comment by Jay B. Gaskill
Monday, June 13th, 2005
Readers have asked me from time to time what I think about the Michael Jackson molestation case: Though his case was a trial I decided not to follow on the “Reading the Defense” part of this web site, a few comments regarding today’s acquittal are in order.
There was sufficient reason to take the matter to a jury, whatever the outcome. This does not appear to be one of those cases where the prosecution was overmatched by a higher budget defense at trial. If Mr. Jackson’s money and fame contributed to this favorable defense outcome, it could only have been as a result of events that took place long before Mr. Jackson’s arrest. For example an alleged earlier victim who was paid a great deal of money, did not testify. What would he have said? Would he have been believed? The jury gets to decide on evidence that it hears, not on the basis of speculation about evidence it did not hear. An acquittal does not mean a finding of innocence. I suspect some of the jurors may eventually talk about this. The child-victim’s mother in the instant case evidently tanked on the stand, probably taking the DA’s case down with her. The outcome is a double deterrent: (a) Mr. Jackson will have a strong incentive never again to get into a compromising position with minors; (b) the prosecution, having expended a lot of resources on this case without getting a conviction will have a strong disincentive to charge Mr. Jackson with related offenses, especially from older cases. Many European intellectuals will not get it. Some of them seem to have a much more “relaxed” view of adult-child sexual encounters. These America-is-backward critics tend to think of this country as run by sex-Puritans. They think that the Jackson prosecution is just another American excess, an example of our lack of “sophistication”. In this, they are dead wrong.
This piece was first posted on “The Policy Think Site”
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