Katherine and Tito Jackson – but no Michael – appear at the invitation-only bash

By Stephen M. Silverman
June 20, 2005 07:00 AM

Katherine Jackson and son Tito reportedly were the only Jacksons present at Friday night’s 400-guest, invitation-only celebration of Michael Jackson’s acquittal on child-molestation charges.

But in an appearance that raised eyebrows, one of the jurors also showed up for the party.

After a 14-week trial, Jackson, 46, was cleared June 13 of all 10 counts against him. The gathering Friday, at the Chumash Indian Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif., was to give thanks to supporters of the pop star – who has not appeared in public since he walked out of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse last week.

Although members of the media were barred from the event, the Associated Press reports that family matriarch Katherine Jackson received loud applause when she made her entrance to the song, “I’ll Be There.”

“We couldn’t have done it without you,” Katherine, with Tito at her side, told the crowd – which included Pauline Coccoz, one of the 12 jurors who unanimously exonerated the star. Coccoz tells AP that when she entered the casino and heard Jackson’s music over the speakers, the magnitude of what had taken place at trial fully hit her.

“They were playing ‘Beat It,’ and I almost started to cry,” she said, adding that part of the reason she had brought her family to the event was to demonstrate her confidence in the jury’s verdict.

Meanwhile, on Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom, Michael’s sister, Janet Jackson, accepted a humanitarian award from the Human Rights Campaign. Jackson, 39, was cited for the millions of dollars she has both raised and donated for humanitarian causes, notably the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation.

As Jackson said during her speech, according to AP: “What I’ve learned in these recent months is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s real, it’s a beautiful light that both comforts our minds and strengthens our souls.”

She also said in response to a humorous introduction by actor Alan Cummings: “My family and I have just gone through the least humorous chapter of our lives. … I’m going to leave the jokes to the late-night (comics), if that’s okay.”