How popular was Michael Jackson before Thriller

Spectacular lawsuits of modern times Part 3: The trials of the "King of Pop"

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Image: “Gone away” by Last Hero. License: CC BY 2.0


Michael Jackson was born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana and died on June 25, 2009 in Los Angeles. As a child, he became a star with his brothers as the front man of the Jackson Five in the 1970s. In his career as a solo artist he broke many records such as the best-selling album "Thriller" to date and was crowned "King of Pop".

But his career was also marked by setbacks. His success and his excessive manner brought many envious and adversaries on the scene and drug addiction, skin diseases and various criminal trials shook him long-term.

Discontinued investigation

In 1993 accused Evan Chandler, an acquaintance of Michael Jackson, of sexual abuse of his underage son Jordan. There was no further incriminating evidence to support this allegation and Michael Jackson protested his innocence.

Finally, an out-of-court settlement was reached: for a severance payment of 22 million US dollars, the family certified that he had not committed any wrongdoing and discontinued cooperation with the authorities.

Under California's criminal law at the time, the victim's complaint was a prerequisite for child molestation prosecution. The preliminary investigation was discontinued accordingly. As an adult, Evan Chandler gave further grounds for speculation that he had lied on his parents' instructions. His father committed suicide in 2009.

The 2005 trial and acquittal

Triggered by the TV documentary "Living with Michael Jackson", the prosecution decided to re-indict Michael Jackson. In the documentary, cancer-cured teenager Gavin Arvizo describes how he overcame the disease thanks to Michael Jackson, who stayed in a room with him.

The indictment comprised 10 items in particular child abuse, sexual harassment, conspiracy and giving alcohol to minors. Michael Jackson pleaded on all charges not guilty". The Arvizo family got caught up in contradictions in court. The twelve jurors unanimously acquitted Michael Jackson on June 13, 2005.

Role of the media

Unfortunately, the media played an inglorious role in the Michael Jackson trial. After the search of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch on suspicion of child abuse, a real media “hunt down” began on Michael Jackson.

The television stations and newspapers outdo each other with "Michael Jackson specials" without the public prosecutor or Michael Jackson having disclosed any details about the house search. During the trial, the media reported more "dirty allegations" than the cross-traffic refutations or the credibility of witnesses.

Accordingly, little consideration was given to journalistic standards, Jackson's personal rights and the presumption of innocence.

Michael Jackson's death trial

On June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson died in Las Vegas from a drug cocktail administered by his personal physician. Jackson was rehearsing his "This is it" concert series in London at the time. Since he suffered from insomnia, his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray often uses a drug that is normally only used for anesthesia in operating theaters.

But that night Jackson never woke up. His doctor was unanimously found guilty of negligent homicide on November 7, 2011 by the jury. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison and lost his medical license.


Michael Jackson is probably one of those celebrities who felt misunderstood even by the public. His eccentric demeanor certainly didn't help in the trials that eventually turned out to be serious allegations. Ultimately, he "won" his trials, even posthumously. But the setbacks and drug addiction cost him his health and ultimately his life.

Other well-known personalities would also be protagonists in famous court cases, such as O.J. Simpson, Uli Hoeneß and Peter Graf.

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