Michael Jackson, who died Thursday at the age of 50 from cardiac arrest, was beloved as a music icon around the world. But there was another aspect of the entertainer's legend; for all the acclaim and adulation, the "King of Pop" had a controversial side.
Jackson twice faced serious allegations of child abuse, allegations he always strenuously denied. A multimillion dollar settlement was reached in the first case in 1993, and Jackson was found not guilty in a circus of a criminal trial in 2005. But that ordeal left him deeply in debt and under suspicion for the remaining years of his life. Many felt he had been convicted in the court of public opinion.
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The 12-year-old boy who accused Jackson of molestation settled for millions of dollars in a civil suit and refused to testify, so Santa Barbara County, Calif., prosecutors dropped the 1993 case. And Jackson went on a national television to declare his innocence.
"I am not guilty of these allegations, but if I am guilty of anything, it is of giving all that I have to give to help children all over the world," he said in 1993.
"The public knows about two major molestation cases, but throughout his career Michael Jackson was sued countless times; he became a real target," said legal analyst Dana Cole.
Jackson escaped prison when the charges were dropped, but his mug shot was taken and published worldwide, and he spent time in jail awaiting trial. His image suffered terribly.
"It concerned him," his former spokesperson Raymone Bain told ABC News Thursday. "But he decided to move on. In life there are going to be people who will believe whatever they want to believe."
In a 1995 interview, Jackson told ABC's Diane Sawyer that he "never, ever" had sexual contact with young boys. "I could never harm a child or anyone," he said. "It's not in my heart."
He said he was advised to settle the case.
"I talked to my lawyers and I said, 'Can you guarantee me that justice will prevail?'" he told Sawyer. "And they said, 'Michael, we cannot guarantee that a judge or a jury will do anything.'"
At that point, he said, he decided to settle the case. "I was outraged so what I said, I have got to do something to get out from under this nightmare."
"It just isn't fair what they put me through," he told Sawyer. "There isn't one piece of information that says that I did this -- nothing, nothing, nothing."
In the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson," the pop icon talked with Martin Bashir about having innocent sleepovers with children at his ranch. A boy who appeared in the documentary later accused Jackson of molestation.
During that trial in 2005, Jackson famously woke up late one day and wore his pajamas to court, covering them with a borrowed sport coat. He was threatened with contempt more than once -- the judge also did not appreciate Jackson's impromptu on-top-of-the-SUV concert in front of the courthouse.
But when it counted, the Santa Barbara County jury did not believe the young boy who testified that Jackson plied him with wine from a coke can and molested him in the star's bedroom deep inside the Neverland Ranch.