June 23, 2005 -- A former longtime publicist for Michael Jackson says he was somewhat surprised the singer was acquitted in his child molestation trial but shared some jurors' suspicions that "The King of Pop" may have behaved inappropriately with other children in the past.
"Well, the justice system had prevailed," Bob Jones said in an interview with Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America" today. "I was shocked to a degree. However, you had the foreman of the jury say I believe in a certain way [that something happened]. But they didn't prove it in this particular case."
Jackson was acquitted on June 13 of all 10 charges related to allegations that he molested a now-15-year-old boy who spent time at his Neverland ranch and appeared with him in the 2003 British documentary "Living With Michael Jackson." After the verdict, some jurors said they suspected the singer had molested other children, but that prosecutors had not proven he had done anything illegal to the accuser at the center of his trial.
During deliberations, jury foreman Paul Rodriguez said he and other jurors frequently discussed the testimony about past allegations that Jackson had molested or behaved inappropriately with five other boys, including two youngsters who reached multimillion-dollar settlements with the singer in the 1990s. But, Rodriguez said, the jurors knew they could not convict solely on the basis of past allegations.
"We couldn't weigh that with this case in particular," he said. "We all felt that he was guilty of something."
Not the Strongest Prosecution Witness
Jones, who has known Jackson since the start of Jackson's career as the child lead singer of the Jackson 5 until he was fired in 2004, has co-authored a new book with another former Jackson family friend called "Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask." Jones testified for prosecutors as they presented testimony about Jackson's alleged pattern of seduction and inappropriate behavior with boys.
However, Jones was not the prosecution's strongest witness, as he initially said he did not remember seeing the entertainer lick a boy's head during a flight from Paris to Los Angeles in the early 1990s. Jones only conceded that the incident must have happened after prosecutors showed him an e-mail he wrote to a co-writer.
Jones said he did not see what allegedly happened between Jackson and boys behind closed doors. In his book, Jones said he and employees saw Jackson become close to several boys and he was most disturbed by the singer's friendship with the boy who accused him of molestation in 1993 and ultimately received a reported $20 million settlement.
"He [Jackson] spent up to 40 nights in this boy's home in Santa Monica," Jones said. "I turned around in first class on this United [Airlines] flight, and there they were, arm-in-arm, in a plane full of people. And the mother didn't say anything, and it didn't seem to bother her. However, perception-wise, it bothered me."
Though he negotiated settlements for boys who accused him of molestation in 1990 and 1993, Jackson has always denied any wrongdoing and was never criminally charged for those allegations. Santa Barbara prosecutors decided not to pursue the 1993 case after they said the alleged victim refused to testify.
Jones recalled an alleged incident in the late 1980s when, he said, a boy joined Jackson for a tour for his album "Bad." One of Jackson's assistants, Jones said, found a kind of love note presumably written by Jackson for the boy on a bedsheet.
"[There was] a picture of a young man, drawn by him [Jackson], and the secretary came to me and said, you know, 'What will the maid think when she goes in and sees this picture and writing?'" Jones said. "I talked to the manager, and we decided to pull the bedsheet and take it."
Jones also alleges that he helped Jackson deceive people with stories about illnesses and hospitalizations. He also claimed that Jackson hated his own race and that he referred to ordinary African-Americans as "slaboos."
A Disgruntled Former Employee Motivated by Money?
In a statement given to ABC News, Jackson's representatives refuted Jones' allegations, saying that they were untrue. They noted that Jones has supported Jackson in the past and suggested he has changed his story to sell his new book.
"Over the years, Bob Jones repeatedly said that Michael Jackson never harmed a child or did anything improper," said longtime Jackson family attorney Brian Oxman. "Now all of a sudden, when the almighty dollar calls, he has new stories to tell having nothing to do with reality. His entire book is a creation out of thin air and doesn't have any validity."
Jones has denied Jackson camp allegations that he is a disgruntled former employee. He said he did not sign a confidentiality agreement with Jackson and was loyal to him for more than 30 years.
However, any feelings he had for Jackson are gone.
"I have no feelings for him," Jones said. "Loyalty is a two-way street. You give it to get it."