Nor was it the first time that Michael had been accused of impropriety with young boys.
Little more than a decade earlier, another 13-year-old, Jordan Chandler, made similar accusations in a case that was eventually settled before trial – but not before the damage had been done to Jackson’s reputation. Appearing in a documentary with British broadcaster Martin Bashir, he not only admitted that he liked to share a bed with teenagers, mainly boys, in pyjamas, but showed no sign of understanding why anyone might be legitimately concerned.
Could this be why Jackson had for years been wearing a surgical mask in public, to protect his lungs from the ravages of the disease? Could he even stand on a stage for an hour concert? ‘He said no, but his people are trying to force it on him.
But this lover produced corroboration in the form of photographs of the two of them together, and a witness.
Other witnesses speak of strings of young men visiting his house at all hours, even in the period of his decline. When Jackson lived in Las Vegas, one of his closest aides told how he would sneak off to a ‘grungy, rat-infested’ motel – often dressed as a woman to disguise his identity – to meet a male construction worker he had fallen in love with.
Jackson was acquitted in the Arvizo case, dramatically so, but the effect on his mental state was ruinous.
Sources close to him suggest he was close to complete nervous breakdown. One of my sources suggested that he might already have had a genetic condition I had never previously come across, called Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency – the lack of a protein that can help protect the lungs.
During the last weeks and months of his life, Jackson made desperate attempts to prepare for the concert series scheduled for next month – a series that would have earned millions for the singer and his entourage, but which he could never have completed, not mentally, and not physically. Anyone who caught even a fleeting glimpse of the frail old man hiding beneath the costumes and cosmetics would have understood that the London tour was madness. I had more than a glimpse of the real Michael; as an award-winning freelance journalist and film-maker, I spent more than five years inside his ‘camp’.