For various legal, personal, professional, financial and practical reasons, Michael Jackson settled the civil lawsuit filed against him by his accuser's family in 1993. The recently leaked settlement document reveals several interesting facts:
1) Michael Jackson denied any wrongdoing.
2) The boy and his parents could have still testified against Jackson in the criminal trial.
3) Jackson only settled over claims of negligence and not over claims of child molestation.
Tabloid reporter Diane Dimond, who leaked the details of the settlement, tried to make it seem as if Jackson admitted to molesting the boy simply because he settled over the negligence allegation. Dimond pointed out that the original lawsuit said: "Defendant Michael Jackson negligently had offensive contacts with plaintiff which were both explicitly sexual and otherwise." It is clear, however, from the wording of the settlement document, that the "negligence" allegation was redefined:
"Such claims include claims for bodily injuries resulting from negligence; whereas, Evan Chandler has made claims against Jackson for bodily injuries resulting from negligent infliction of emotional distress; whereas, Jordan Chandler has made claims against Jackson for bodily injuries resulting from negligent infliction of emotional distress."
Negligence has been defined in the settlement as the "infliction of emotional distress"; there is no mention of sexual abuse. Referring to the lawsuit's definition of "negligence" is inconclusive because each legal document intentionally defines the terms to ensure that there is no misunderstanding. Furthermore, if the negligence allegation was directly related to the child molestation allegations, why did Evan Chandler also claim to be the victim of negligence?
OTHER INTERESTING EXCEPRTS FROM THE DOCUMENT:
"This Confidential Settlement shall not be construed as an admission by Jackson that he has acted wrongfully with respect to the Minor, Evan Chandler or June Chandler, or any other person or at all, or that the Minor, Evan Chandler and June Chandler have any rights whatsoever against Jackson. Jackson specifically disclaims any liability to, and denies any wrongful acts against the Minor, Evan Chandler or June Chandler or any other persons. The Parties acknowledge that Jackson is a public figure and that his name, image and likeness have commercial value and are an important element of his earning capacity. The Parties acknowledge that Jackson claims that he has elected to settle the claims in the Action in view of the impact the Action has had and could have in the future on his earnings and potential income."
Jackson repeatedly asserts his innocence while the accusing family does not once maintain that the boy's allegations are true.
"The Parties recognize that the Settlement Payment set forth in this paragraph 3 are in settlement of claims by Jordan Chandler, Evan Chandler and June Chandler for alleged compensatory damages for alleged personal injuries arising out of claims of negligence and not for claims of intentional or wrongful acts of sexual molestation."
The document states that $15,331,250 was put into a trust fund for Jordan Chandler. Both of his parents, as well as their attorney Larry Feldman, got a cut of the settlement. (Barry Rothman and Dave Schwartz, two principle players in the case who were left out of the settlement, later filed their own individual lawsuits against Jackson). Eight pages detailing the payment were allegedly missing from Dimond's copy of the settlement but according to Jackson's current attorney, the negligence allegation included in the lawsuit prompted Jackson's insurance company to step in and settle the case for him. This means that Jackson might not have paid the Chandlers anything. It also means that the insurance company most likely conducted their own investigation into the allegations and concluded that Jackson did not molest the boy; insurance companies generally do not settle if they believe the Defendant is liable. They will, however, settle for negligent behaviour.
DISMISSAL OF THE ACTION:
The document also shows that the Chandlers dropped the child molestation allegations from their complaint:
"Forthwith upon the signing of this Confidential Settlement by the Parties hereto, the Minor through his Guardian ad Litem shall dismiss, without prejudice, the first through sixth causes of action of the complaint on file in the Action, leaving only the seventh cause of action pending."
"Upon the full and complete payment of all Settlement Payments... the Minor, through his Guardian ad Litem, shall dismiss the entire action with prejduice."
The first through sixth causes of action were the sexual abuse allegations; the seventh cause of action was negligence. Again, Jackson settled over the familyís claims of negligence and not over their claims of child molestation.
WAS IT HUSH MONEY?
Finally, the document makes it clear that the Chandlers could have still testified against Jackson in a criminal trial:
"The Minor, by and through his Guardian ad Litem, and Evan Chandler and June Chandler , and each of them individually and on behalf of their respective agents, attorneys, media representatives, partners, heirs, administrators, executors, conservators, successors and assigns, agree not to cooperate with, represent, or provide any information, to any person or entity that initiates any civil claim or action which relates in any manner to the subject matter of the Action against Jackson or any of the Jackson Releases, except as may be required by law."
The only stipulation in the settlement is that the parties could not testify about the allegations in civil court.
"In the event the Minor, the Minorís Legal Guardians, the Minorís Guardian ad Litem, the Minorís attorneys, Evan Chandler or June Chandler, or any of them individually... receive a subpoena or request for information from any person or entity who has asserted or is investigating, any claim against Jackson... they agree to give notice in writing to Jacksonís attorneys regarding the nature and scope of any such subpoena request for information, to the extent permitted by law. This notice shall be given before responding to the request."
The above paragraph makes it clear that the Chandlers were not prohibited from testifying against Jackson in a criminal trial, as long as they notified Jackson's attorneys beforehand. Contrary to popular belief, the settlement did NOT silence anybody. It was the family's own decision not to testify in the criminal case; they could have gotten money and justice but they only opted to take the money.
Ask yourself this: if your child was molested, would you not do everything in your power to put the person responsible behind bars? The Chandlers did not. Instead, they dropped the claims of child abuse against Jackson, signed a document where he basically called them liars, took his money and refused to talk to authorities. I have already pointed out the numerous reasons why Jackson settled the case; what reason did the Chandlers have to not testify?
One could argue that they did not want to be put through a public trial, however, this assertion does not make sense when you consider the fact that the Chandlers were more than willing to testify in the civil trial. In fact, court documents reveal that the only reason the judge refused to stay the civil proceedings was because Feldman was allegedly worried that Jordan Chandler would forget his story when testifying. Furthermore, Evan Chandler later sued Jackson and asked the court to allow him to produce an album of songs about the allegations. The actions of the Chandlers are not indicative of a family reluctant to tell their story.
For the past ten years, the media have been referring to the settlement as a "pay off" but here is my question: what exactly did Michael Jackson "buy" when he settled the civil lawsuit? How can anyone call it "hush money" when it did not prevent the accuser from testifying against him? How can anyone call it "hush money" when the entire world already knew about the allegations? How can anyone call it "hush money" when there was still an ongoing criminal investigation that was not affected by the civil suit?
Finally, Evan Chandler asked for $20 million before the allegations were reported to authorities. Assuming Michael Jackson had actually molested Jordan Chandler, why did he not take that opportunity to avoid getting caught? He could have paid Evan Chandler and avoided the entire ordeal. Instead, he rejected Chandler's initial demand for money. If he was guilty, why did he do that?
If it is still your contention that Jackson's plan was to settle the civil lawsuit in order to bribe the boy into not testifying against him in the criminal trial, can you please explain to me why Michael Jackson asked for the civil trial to be postponed? He wanted the civil trial to take place after the criminal trial was resolved, which means any potential settlement would have been negotiated after Jackson was either acquitted or convicted. This would have made it impossible for him to "bribe" the boy into not testifying. Jackson's actions contradict the notion that he wanted to buy Jordan Chandler's silence.
A more logical explanation as to why Michael Jackson settled is that he was innocent and although he initially refused to be blackmailed by Evan Chandler, he had no choice in the end. Once the alleged abuse was brought to the attention of authorities, it suddenly became apparent to Jackson just how ugly things would get. The media went into overkill, the justice system was not working in his favor and the civil lawsuit filed by the Chandlers had backed Jackson into a corner. He could have either gone through with the civil trial and risked a weakened defense in the more important criminal trial or settled the civil lawsuit and risked people thinking he had something to hide. Obviously, Michael Jackson valued his life more than he valued the opinions of other people so he opted to settle the lawsuit.
Once the civil lawsuit was settled, Michael Jackson still had the criminal investigation to contend with.