Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Monday, March 07, 2005

He's Just a Boy Who Claims That I Am the One . . .

One of the peculiar pleasures of becoming an attorney, especially when your family lacks one and your friends are, by and large, not lawyers, is that people tend to turn to you for commentary on celebrity trials. (People also tend to ask you how they can deal with their landlords, various civil suits they'd like to bring or will have to defend against, real estate transactions, credit issues . . . I'm not done, but you get the point.) On the flipside you also gain the temerity, if not the moral responsibility, to point out to your parents that hey, they should have an up-to-date will, but far from being as bad as that sounds it's mostly because lawyers in the family tend to end up executing the estates of loved ones, and really all we want to do is make that challenging task as straightforward as possible. I digress.) Anyway, usually, in virtue of this fact, I try to keep at least a basic understanding of what's going on with various high profile trials.

I was a bartender during the O.J. trial, so I had little choice but to follow along, since my clientele tended to demand it be on (thank goodness I wasn't a law student bartender back then, or I would have been in hell). But in recent years, I've been almost congenitally unable to follow celebrity criminal trials. I follow the high profile corporate prosecutions, and I followed Martha Stewart's debacle, but that's probably because I hate mega-corporations that behave scurrilously, and, well, I just hate Martha Stewart. Accordingly, I know very little about the Peterson matter, and even less about the Robert Blake trial.

Similarly, I have assiduously avoided every article I come across about the prosecution of Michael Jackson. In my work, I see a share of cases involving child molestation, and it's just one of those things you don't need to see more of than obligations compel you to see. Most of us never have to see any of it; I'm not so fortunate. I do my best on those cases as on every other, but I do so with my nose curled and my face contorted into a rictus of sorts -- abusing a child is about as low as it gets, most of us can agree.

So I don't know what it is about the headline on this article that prompted me to click it, but I did. My avoidance was instantly vindicated.

SANTA MARIA, California (CNN) -- The younger brother of the teenage boy accusing Michael Jackson of child molestation testified Monday that he twice walked into the singer's bedroom and found Jackson masturbating, with his other hand down the sleeping boy's pants.
* * *

The brother also said Jackson once walked naked into his bedroom at Neverland Ranch, where he and Jackson's accuser were sitting on the bed watching a movie, telling them that it was "natural." Jackson had an erection, the boy said.

"We were grossed out," he testified.

Hearing the boy's revelation, even members of Jackson's own defense team turned to look at him. But Jackson did not visibly react.
* * *

The brother said that on his second visit to Neverland, he and the accuser were in Jackson's bedroom with the singer and his associate, Frank Tyson, along with two of Jackson's children. He said at Jackson's suggestion, Tyson used a computer to call up several sites with photographs of scantily clad women.

After viewing one image of a topless woman, the brother told jurors that Jackson turned to them and said, "Got milk."

At another point, Jackson whispered into the ear of his sleeping son, Prince Michael, about what he was missing, spelling out a euphemism for female genitalia, the brother testified.

And that's why I don't read these articles -- because I don't ultimately care whether he did it. I mean, if he did, he ought to rot in prison to precisely the same extent any poor offender would. But in the larger scheme of things, this is a drop in the ocean, and I don't know that his prosecution is any more important than any other molestor's, if that's what he is (and I reserve judgment, though after reading excerpts of the testimony I find it hard to believe that he'll be acquitted).

But surely there are more important stories that I could have read to avoid having these images emblazoned on my mind . . . and so my lack of discipline in staying away from this story is duly punished. And now I inflict on all of you. Muhuhahahaha.


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