Investigative Files Released
In response to Freedom of Information Act requests, the Bureau has released its investigative files on the late entertainer Michael Jackson, who died earlier this year.
The records total 333 pages, divided into seven files. They detail the FBI’s investigation of a man who threatened to kill Jackson, as well as various forms of assistance to California authorities in two cases involving allegations that Jackson had abused children. It should be emphasized that none of these allegations were ever proven in court.
The files are available on the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy website, but here is a quick rundown of what they contain.
The first file—9A-LA-142276—was opened by the Los Angeles FBI office when it was asked to lead a federal case against a California man already under arrest for sending numerous threatening letters. The man—who falsely claimed to be the son of mobster John Gotti—had staked out Jackson’s house and threatened to kill him, the U.S. president, and others. He was ruled incompetent to stand trial and sent to prison for two years.
The second and third files—62D-LA-162715 and 62D-LO-11779—involve the Bureau’s support of local law enforcement. In 1993, the Los Angeles and the Santa Barbara Police departments formed a task force to investigate an allegation that Jackson had molested a young boy. FBI field divisions in Los Angeles and New York—as well as Bureau overseas offices in Manila and London—provided assistance in that case. Investigators gathered public records on Jackson, interviewed a potential witness, and followed various other leads. The FBI assisted Los Angeles Police Department detectives who traveled to the Philippines to interview possible witnesses and shared news reports from London about a potential victim. The U.S. Attorney declined to pursue a federal investigation, including a possible violation of the Mann Act (transporting a minor across state lines for immoral purposes), and no charges were filed by the state.
The fourth file—95A-HQ-1148159—concerns a 1995 request by a U.S. Customs agent in Florida that the Bureau examine a VHS videotape connected with Jackson to see if it contained child pornography. Forensic specialists discovered that the tape was a “poor quality third or fourth generation recording” and informed the Customs Service of their findings.
In 2003, Jackson was charged by the state of California with molestation and other counts. The final three files—62D-LA-236081, 252B-IR-6808, and 305B-LA-239205—detail the Bureau’s support to local law enforcement during the ensuing investigation. The first of these files describes an FBI response to a Los Angeles Police Department request to analyze computers and digital media obtained from Jackson’s home under court warrant. The second involves a request by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney for help and guidance from behavioral analysts in the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group. In the last of the three files, an FBI agent from Los Angeles traveled to New York to interview a potential witness. The agent found this individual unwilling to cooperate and closed the matter. The case went to court in 2005, and Jackson was acquitted of all charges.
Michael Joseph Jackson, a celebrity pop star, was born on August 29, 1958. He died unexpectedly on June 25, 2009 at the age of 50.
Between 1993 and 1994 and separately between 2004 and 2005, Mr. Jackson was investigated by California law enforcement agencies for possible child molestation. He was acquitted of all such charges. The FBI provided technical and investigative assistance to these agencies during the cases. The Bureau also investigated threats made against Mr. Jackson and others by an individual who was later imprisoned for these crimes.
This release consists of seven separate files, as described below:
This file details a Los Angeles field office investigation into extortion threats against Michael Jackson and others in 1992. The subject of this investigation pled guilty and was sentenced to prison in 1993.
A total of 111 pages were withheld to prevent duplication of material already released or to protect personal privacy, the identity of sources that provided information to the FBI in confidence, and internal rules and practices. Some information was referred to the U.S. Secret Service.
This file involves a Los Angeles field office investigation opened to assist local authorities with a child molestation case in 1993. The case never went to trial.
Ninety-five pages were withheld to prevent duplication of material already released or to protect personal privacy, the identity of sources that provided information to the FBI in confidence, and internal rules and practices.
This file was opened by the FBI’s legal attaché office in London when it assisted local authorities with a child molestation investigation in 1993.
Thirteen pages were withheld to protect personal privacy and the identity of sources that provided information to the FBI in confidence.
This file details a request made to the FBI to analyze a VHS videotape provided by the U.S. Customs Service as part of a child pornography investigation.
Some information was redacted to protect personal privacy. Four pages were referred to U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement for a release determination.
Our Los Angeles field office opened this file when it was asked by local authorities to provide forensic computer analysis assistance in a child molestation investigation in 2004. The examination of evidence in this case was conducted by the FBI’s Computer Analysis and Response Team (CART). Mr. Jackson was ultimately acquitted of these charges in a California court.
One hundred and twenty-three pages were withheld to protect personal privacy, the identity of sources that provided information to the FBI in confidence, and internal rules and practices or to prevent the disclosure of techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions.
This Los Angeles field office file was opened in 2004 to investigate child molestation allegations. Due to lack of witness cooperation, the case was closed.
This file involves a request made of the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group to provide advice and assistance to local authorities concerning a child molestation investigation in 2004.
Some information was redacted to protect personal privacy and internal rules and practices.