Michael Jackson’s multimillion-dollar settlement with the 14-year-old boy he was accused of molesting (PEOPLE, Feb. 7) may have brought the civil suit against Jackson to an end, but the court of public opinion is still in session. A slight majority of correspondents this week regard the boy’s willingness to settle as proof of Jackson’s innocence; others see Jackson’s willingness to pay as evidence of his guilt.
If it is true that Michael Jackson molested that 14-year-old boy, then the parents of this child should be ashamed of themselves. As parents, it is our responsibility to see that justice is done to protect our children and the children of others. I feel this only proves that Michael was right—they only wanted money. If they are telling the truth, then I hope they can live with selling their child’s life for $15 or $20 million.
KATHRYN CUNNINGHAM, Hampton, Va.
I didn’t believe Michael Jackson was guilty when the story first came out, and I still don’t. In today’s society the way to get rich quick is to sue, and if someone thinks they have a snowball’s chance in hell to collect, a lawsuit will be filed, no matter what the consequences.
What was going on in the minds of this kid’s parents? Michael Jackson pays to cart them all over Europe, lavishes gifts on them and visits the kid’s house for sleepovers. I simply can’t imagine a sane and concerned parent not being attuned to the situation. I think I would balk at the idea of a grown man, famous or not, coming over to sleep with my 14-year-old.
JUDITH SAFFRON, Kailua, Hawaii
Basically, what the world is hearing is that money can bypass the judicial system. Regardless of whether this
man is guilty or innocent, if a charge such as child molestation is brought, there should be a trial. If he is innocent, as he proclaims himself to be, he shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Thank God the average sex offender isn’t rich or famous.
ANGIE MOW ATKINS, Carrollton, Texas
The Michael Jackson story is a tragedy of confusion and pain. How could a parent allow a child to have a sleepover at the home of an adult who is a celebrated eccentric? How could this same parent express “satisfaction” at a monetary award, when this same parent accused a man of child molestation. I genuinely believe that although Michael has demonstrated extremely poor judgment, he is innocent. If I am proven wrong, I will at least be in the company of many who feel this whole situation smacks of extortion and exploitation.
DEBRA HUNTER, Bloomington, Ind.
Let’s see, if Michael is innocent, that makes the boy’s parents extortionists. If Michael is guilty, that makes the boy’s parents pimps. I’m at a loss to decide which would be lousier, and I’m appalled and disgusted about the whole thing.
TERRI DEL CAMPO, New Castle, Del.
Paying for one’s crime used to mean time spent in prison, not putting your name on a check in order to silence your accuser. I can only hope the next check Michael Jackson signs is to a psychiatrist who can help him sort through his obvious emotional problems.
THOMAS C. RIZZO JR., San Francisco
As Telly’s publicist for more than 25 years, it was my responsibility to coordinate interviews between members of Telly’s family and your writers. I have never met more dedicated and compassionate journalists than Lois Armstrong, Karen Brails ford and Tim Allis, the three members of PEOPLE’s staff who covered the story with total professionalism, tempered with understanding. Each was sensitive to the family’s grief, extracting their feelings with kindness, sympathy and accuracy.
MIKE MAMAKOS, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
I find it utterly appalling that a man who gave us years of entertainment and a character that will never be forgotten is reduced to a two-inch picture, while an alleged child molester who paid his accuser some hush money gels yet another cover.
TONY JENKINS, Warner Robins, Ga.
‘Three Strikes, you’re out” is a step in the right direction, but it allows for somebody to be a repeal offender twice. The only solution for those who rape or kill is capital punishment. Then there will be no repeat offenders. It would also save a lot of money that is spent incarcerating the scum of our society. Let’s quit mollycoddling and give ’em the gas! An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth!
DR. PHIL CARPENTER, Pasadena, Calif.
BURT & LONI
You have no idea how relieved I was to read that Loni got $1.9 million toward buying a home. What we don’t need is yet another homeless person.
JANET BEECH, Claremont, Calif.