General credibility problems with the Arvizo family

In this article we will discuss some other events, outside of their allegations against Michael Jackson, which highlight the Arvizo family’s credibility problems. While some of the media in 2005 pretended that the information you will find in this article was irrelevant information only to undermine the Arvizo family’s credibility the fact is that the Arvizos’ allegations against Michael Jackson were based solely on the Arvizo family’s word so their credibility, propensity to lie for a financial gain and modus operandi at large is not irrelevant at all. Of course, lying in another case does not directly prove lying in the Michael Jackson case and we do not make that fallacy either. That they lied, contradicted themselves and each other, changed their stories in significant ways in this relevant case as well was already discussed in detail in the previous articles. The information that you will find in this article is only additional information to that to further put things into a perspective.

The J.C. Penney Incident

On August 27 1998, when Gavin Arvizo was only eight years old, the Arvizo family was involved in an incident at a J.C. Penney department store. The incident started with Gavin stealing two school uniforms and two school uniform pants from the store and ended with a settlement between the Arvizo family and J.C. Penney in which the store paid the family $152,200. How did Gavin’s shoplifting end up with the department store paying to the family?

According to an interview that the Arvizo kids’ father David Arvizo gave to Michael Jackson’s private investigator Scott Ross on October 27, 2004, on the day of the incident the mother Janet Arvizo applied for a job at the loss prevention unit of Oshman’s Sporting Goods Store. While she went to that store to fill out paperwork for her job application David Arvizo and their two sons, Gavin and Star, went into the neighboring J.C. Penney store. While they were shopping Gavin grabbed two school uniforms and two school uniform pants and ran out of the store with them. David ran after him, according to him to stop him, but before they reached their van they were surrounded by J.C. Penney security guards. [1]

Janet Arvizo was exiting Oshman’s just in time to witness this and jumped in to protect her husband and two sons. There was a scuffle between Janet and the guards but David was ultimately escorted back to J.C. Penney. [1] According to Janet Arvizo’s testimony in 2005 both Janet and David were arrested and taken to jail where their mugshots were taken and they were charged with burglary, assault and battery, and petty theft, but then they were released later that day and the charges were eventually dropped by the store. [2]

According to David, upon arriving home Janet ordered him and the boys to write out their version of what happened. When they were done she took their papers and changed their stories to a version that she wanted to represent. The changed versions were returned to the children and they were required to read and study it on a daily basis. This went on for almost a year then almost a year later on July 22, 1999 the Arvizos filed a civil lawsuit against J.C. Penney for battery, false imprisonment and infliction of emotional distress. At the time no sexual assault was alleged by them. One more year later in a June 29, 2000 amendment of their complaint, however, they added sexual assault allegations as well. Janet Arvizo now claimed that a security guard fondled her breasts, squeezed her nipples 10-20 times, punched her with a closed fist, molested her in her vaginal area and she was called racial slurs. [1]

According to David Arvizo eventually Janet never worked a day at Oshman’s claiming that she was unable to work due to the injuries she allegedly got in the J.C. Penney altercation. This “loss of earnings” claim became a part of the lawsuit. David also said that Janet exploited Gavin’s illness in raising sympathy and putting J.C. Penney under pressure to settle. [1] Eventually the case was settled on September 24, 2001 with J.C. Penney paying the family $152,500.

While David Arvizo was Janet’s estranged ex-husband and a controversial character himself, and as such one could suspect an axe to grind against his ex-wife, but there is other, independent evidence and testimony to support David’s claims that Janet Arvizo lied and was very manipulative in the J.C. Penney case. Some of that evidence came out at Jackson’s 2005 trial.

In a testimony on May 24, 2005 Mary Holzer, an office manager and paralegal who worked for the Law Offices of Feldman & Rothstein that represented the Arvizos in the J.C. Penney case testified that Janet Arvizo admitted to her that she was lying about the photographs of her bruises that were used to prove her allegations against J.C. Penney. The photographs showed Janet Arvizo with bruises that she claimed she got during the altercation with the J.C. Penney guards. However, according to Holzer, Janet Arvizo admitted to her that the bruises were not caused by the J.C. Penney guards but by her own husband.

“And what did she tell you about those photographs while that lawsuit was going on?

She told me that the bruises that were on her body were inflicted by David that night after the altercation at J.C. Penney’s.

And what was your response to her telling you that?

Well, it scared me.


Well, I represent my law firm, and when a client admits to fraud, it’s kind of scary.

And did you say anything to Mrs. Arvizo in response?

Yes, I did.

What did you say to Ms. Arvizo about that?

I told her that she couldn’t do that, that that was wrong, and that, you know, she needed to retract that, and that she needed to speak to Mr. Rothstein about it.

Did you tell her that was fraudulent?

I don’t know whether I used that word. I told her it was wrong; that “You can’t do that.”

And —

I was very upset.” [3]

The photographs taken by the police on the day of the altercation right after Janet and David’s arrest do not show any injuries. The photos with the bruises and injuries were not presented by Janet until a week later.

In her testimony in 2005 Janet Arvizo admitted that she lied in the J.C. Penney case about how she got her bruises. In fact, after she received the settlement money from J.C. Penney in 2001 she filed for divorce from David and during that divorce battle she changed her story about the bruises, now claiming that they were not caused by the J.C. Penney guards but by her husband. She blamed her lying in the J.C. Penney case on being intimidated by David.

„Okay. You claimed in that case that you had bruises from what the security guards did to you, right?

It is correct.

After you had resolved that case and obtained money, you claimed that you were bruised by David, true?

I had always been bruised by David for years. But I never told anyone until after David was arrested. That was the pivotal point in my life. Not until David was arrested did I say anything about bruises in my whole entire life, and that was only with people of authority. That’s it.” [4]

On another instance during her testimony she blamed her lying on the law firm that represented her. She claimed that she tried to correct her lies but the law firm did not allow her.

“Did you lie under oath in your deposition in the J.C. Penney case?

I tried to remedy that when I had gone to my — after David was arrested, I went to Rothstein’s office. And I requested that they inform Tower Records and J.C. Penney’s that I would like to make that correct statement because the statements that were there were incorrect. But finally me and my kids could finally say what was really happening for many, many years.

Mrs. Arvizo, the problem you had was that when you made allegations later on against David that he had abused you for 17 years, there was a deposition that had previously been taken where you said the opposite under oath, right?

You’re — it’s too long. There’s a yes and no and yes and no, and now I don’t know.” [4]


“How many lies under oath do you think you told in your depositions in the J.C. Penney case?

Like I said, I tried — after David was arrested, I went to the Rothstein office and I pointed out to them, prior to a settlement agreement, that I would like to correct the statements that were inaccurate, because finally David was arrested. Finally, we and my children could speak. And Rothstein, including with Mary Holzer, said, “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of it.” And they didn’t. So I considered their firm a — liars.” [4]

According to Mary Holzer’s testimony this was not true and Janet Arvizo never tried to correct her lies.

“Now, at any point in time, did Janet Arvizo ever tell you words to the effect, “Call up J.C. Penney or their lawyers and tell them I lied under oath”?


At any time did Janet Arvizo ever tell you words to the effect, “Call up J.C. Penney or their lawyers and give the money back”?


Did Janet Arvizo ever tell you words to the effect, “Let the other side know I perjured myself”?

No.” [3]

In actuality, Holzer testified that instead of trying to come clean about her lying Janet Arvizo indirectly threatened her when Holzer tried to convince her to talk to the attorney about her false claims.

“She told me that David’s brother Ray is in the Mexican mafia and runs drugs between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and that she knows where I live, because she had been to my house on several occasions, and they would come and kill me and my nine-year-old daughter.”


“Or, let me rephrase it. Did you ever have any further discussions with her about the fake claims against J.C. Penney?

I did. I tried to get her to speak to Mr. Rothstein about it. I asked her if I could speak to Mr. Rothstein about it, because we run a clean law firm, and I really didn’t feel that we should be involved in something like that. And she proceeded to call me daily and tell me she had told David, and David was raging mad, and that he was going to come after me, and that I better watch my back.

How many times do you think Janet Arvizo threatened you and your daughter?

I’d say about eight, nine times.

Are there any other — are there any other things you haven’t described that she said to you when she threatened you?

She just said she was scared for me and my daughter; that she didn’t want to see anything bad happen to us, because she considered me her dear friend.

Did you consider her to be your dear friend?

Not at all. I was just doing my job.” [3]

Holzer further testified that when she tried to take Janet to an independent medical examination for her alleged injuries Janet threw a tantrum. When they were in the driveway heading to that examination „she threw herself down on the ground, started kicking and screaming, carrying on that the doctor was the devil, and the nurses were the devil, and they were all out to get her. And I explained to her that they were only asking her standard questions that they ask in an Independent Medical Examination; that — the history of her injuries and how she obtained the injuries. And she was very defensive. And they asked us to leave because she was so irate.” [3]

Holzer also testified that Janet told her that her kids went to acting classes because she wanted them to be good actors so that she could tell them what to say and how to behave.

„What did Janet Arvizo tell you about her children learning to act?

She said she wanted them to become good actors so she could tell them what to say and how to behave.

Did she ever say anything to you about Gavin getting his stories straight in the J.C. Penney case?


What did she say?

She said she wasn’t worried. This was at the Independent Medical Examination for psychiatric of all three, Gavin, Star and Janet. And when we were at the doctor’s office, she was very concerned about them completing general forms, you know, like, “Generally do you feel happy?” “Generally do you feel sad?” You know, “What kind of days” — “How do you feel when you wake up?” Those kind of forms. And she refused to have the children fill them out. And then she wanted to participate in the medical examinations with the doctor and the children. And I asked her, you know, I said, you know, “It doesn’t work that way.” You know, “The doctor sees the children on their own.” You know, “You can’t go in there.” And she said, “Well, I’m pretty sure Gavin will get the story straight, but I’m not sure Star will remember what we practiced and what I told him to say.” [3]

About the kids Holzer also said: „They would come into the office. Usually they would pop in every once in a while and the children would come in my office, and sit on my lap, and draw me pictures, tell me how much they loved me, and write little notes and post it on my pin board, and say how great I was, and that I was helping their family.” [3] This mirrors their behavior with Michael Jackson and other celebrities that they were trying to get sympathy and support from.

Holzer also testified that about three or four months before her testimony at Jackson’s trial Janet Arvizo called her again telling her that she wanted to be friends with her. [3]

Welfare fraud

Not only Janet Arvizo lied in the J.C. Penney case but she also committed welfare fraud when she collected $18,782 in welfare payments claiming that she was indigent while failing to disclose the fact that she just got a $152,500 settlement from J.C. Penney and she had $30,000 on her bank account. According to the felony complaint against her she committed these fraudulent acts, including lying under oath, between November 15, 2001 (so she started two months after the settlement with J.C. Penney and four months after she and David Arvizo seperated) and March 31, 2003. [5]

At Jackson’s trial the jury was not informed of this because Janet Arvizo invoked her 5th amendment right on this issue and there was an agreement between the prosecution and the defense that they were not going to ask her about this issue in the presence of the jury.

Nevertheless, on August 23, 2005, only a little more than two months after Jackson’s acquittal, Janet Arvizo was charged with five counts of welfare fraud and perjury. [5] She pleaded “no contest” and was eventually sentenced to paying a fine and doing community service time. After she complied with it her felony judgement was reduced to a misdemeanor in 2007. [6]

A history of manipulative behavior and grifting

The Arvizo family also has a history of grifting and cunning, manipulative behavior.

As a defense witness at Jackson’s trial actor and comedian Chris Tucker testified on May 24-25, 2005 about his encounters with the Arvizos. Long before Michael Jackson even came into the picture Tucker met the Arvizo family at the Laugh Factory where he was approached by the father David Arvizo who told him they were going to have a benefit for his son who was dying of cancer. Tucker met Gavin at the benefit. The actor felt sorry for Gavin and he befriended the family. A couple of days after the benefit Gavin called Tucker on the phone and told him that they did not raise any money at the fund-raiser and that they needed money for his medical bills and because of that Tucker wired money to Gavin’s foundation. [8.]

In the hindsight, however, it turned out that it was not true that the family did not raise any money at the found-raiser. At Jackson’s trial Gavin admitted that they did raise money but he denied that he asked Tucker for money by telling him they did not raise any money.

“Do you remember ever telling Chris Tucker that you didn’t make any money from the fund-raiser.

No. Well, what fund-raising.

Fund-raiser for you at The Laugh Factory.

No, because we did make money at The Laugh Factory.

Yes. So you never told Chris Tucker, “We didn’t make any money from the fund-raiser”.

Why would I say that when we did. No, I never said that.

Okay. Do you recall yourself asking Chris Tucker for money.

No.” [7]

Tucker, however, had a totally different recollection of what happened.

“I was asked a few days later to give some money, because they didn’t raise any money. They didn’t make any money. So I did. I wired some money to their foundation.

Okay. Who told you they hadn’t raised any money at the benefit?

Gavin told me, and his father — well, Gavin told me. Gavin told me.

So Gavin told you they didn’t make a dime at that fund-raiser?

Yeah, they said they didn’t make any money, and they needed some money. They couldn’t – you know, they needed some money. So —

And you then wired them some money?

Yeah, I wired them some money.

How much did you send them; do you know?

It was probably 1500 or more.” [8]

Tucker also testified that because he felt sorry for Gavin he took him and his family to the Knotts Berry Farm theme park, shopping and sports games. In 2001 the family visited him in Las Vegas on the set of his movie Rush Hour 2. Tucker testified that while he expected the family to stay for just a couple of days they overstayed their welcome and they stayed for a week or two – all at Tucker’s expense. The kids were very undisciplined and were disturbing the work at the set of the movie so much that Tucker’s people asked him to keep them away. [8.]

It was on the set that Gavin told Tucker about having Michael Jackson’s phone number and knowing that Tucker was a big fan of the singer he offered him to put him on the phone with Jackson and he did. That was the first time Tucker and Jackson talked to each other. [8.]

Jackson offered them to visit his Neverland Ranch and Tucker and the Arvizo family visited it several times in the next two years, including having a birthday party for Tucker’s son there but Jackson himself was almost never there.

In his testimony Tucker described Gavin as “sophisticated”, “smart” and “cunning” and Gavin’s brother Star as “definitely cunning” – on contrary to the image of the naive, innocent, wholesome little kids that the prosecution tried to portray them. Tucker stated that he felt the kids were using Gavin’s illness to emotionally manipulate him but tried to ignore that feeling because he felt sorry for Gavin.

“And explain what you mean by that.

He was really smart, and he was cunning at times, but I always overlooked it because I felt sorry for him. But I knew he was — he was a little kid, but he was cunning. And his brother Star was definitely cunning.

When you say “cunning,” explain what you’re saying.

Always say stuff like, “Chris, let me have this. Let me have this. Let me get this. Come on, I’m not feeling good,” stuff like that.

And I knew it was going a little too far, but I always said, “He’s sick,” you know, “He’s got a lot of problems, family problems,” so I always just overlooked it.” [9]

The actor even said that he felt that he almost needed to check Star’s pockets before they left his home whenever they visited him.

“When did you begin to think that Gavin was cunning?

When he approached me and was asking for more money, I knew that — you know, I know – I meet a lot of kids, and I knew that he — he – and the little things that he would say. And definitely Star. Star would say stuff all the time like, “You got too much stuff.” And, “You don’t need all this stuff.” And — but I would always ignore it, because I’m thinking I’m helping a kid with cancer, and it’s all about, you know, that. But Star would always say cunning stuff, and would always — I had to check — almost check his pockets before he would leave my house, because I didn’t really — I never really trusted him. But I was always naive because I thought I was doing a good thing.” [9]

Tucker testified that in February 2003, right after the Bashir documentary aired, Gavin called him on the phone to complain about how they were not able to get around due to the media hounding them, that they wanted to get away from California and that they wanted to find Michael Jackson. Tucker was just planning to visit his brother in Miami so he offered the Arvizo family to charter an airplane and take them with him to Miami where Jackson was also staying at the time. Tucker testified that the whole family was excited to see Michael Jackson. [8.]

Tucker stated that when they arrived in Miami he took Jackson aside and warned him about the mother Janet Arvizo because at the time he already felt suspicious about her and had an uneasy feeling about the family. Tucker’s growing suspicion had to do with his own experiences with them. The Arvizo kids called him to tell him that their family could not get around and that they needed a car. Tucker loaned them a Toyota truck to use and he gave them the keys but they lost them and then they kept calling Tucker’s girlfriend Azja Pryor to replace the keys for them. By the time Tucker was not sure about the family’s motives any more and was rather trying to distance himself so he instructed his girlfriend not to give them the keys. Tucker also described a strange encounter with the mother when he first gave her the keys to his truck that made him uncomfortable and he also stated that the family’s insistence on calling him a “brother” also made him very uncomfortable because he felt they were starting to cross certain lines.

“That’s the point that I was — I was going to give her (Janet Arvizo) this truck, the loaner, this truck to drive, but I got real uncomfortable when I was getting ready to loan the truck because she started frantically crying, like — not crying like something normal, but it was like something was wrong with her. And I got really, really — something in my spirit just didn’t feel right about it, and I felt — I said, “Oh, I’m going too far,” because — and I knew she was — something mentally wasn’t right. So I gave her the keys. But then I didn’t feel — I didn’t feel comfortable about it at all.


Do you remember what she said? She was just, like, you know, “Chris,” you know, “you like a brother,” and the “brother” thing again, and crying and — just frantically crying and stuff. And then I was, like, “Something” – you know, “Something ain’t right,” you know.” [9]

Tucker’s testimony that the family started calling him a “brother” is also relevant in pointing out that it was this family’s habit of calling the celebrities they befriended “brother”, “father”, “sister”, apparently in an effort to cajole them. This is relevant because at a point the prosecution and the media tried to suggest that the fact Gavin and Star called Jackson “dad” in the letters and cards that they bombarded him with were somehow a sign of an ulterior motive by Jackson. In reality, it was the family who called such nick names several celebrities that they befriended. In actuality, Tucker testified that when they arrived at the hotel in Miami where Jackson stayed, Janet Arvizo and her kids kept calling him “brother” and Jackson “father” which, again, made Tucker feel uneasy because he felt it was too much.

“Do you recall Janet saying anything about Michael Jackson being a father to their family?

Oh, yes. Oh, yes. That was right before we went in the room. She was frantically — the same thing. Michael’s the father. I’m the brother. And that’s when — that’s when I told Michael. I took him in the room, and I was trying to talk to him. I said, “Something ain’t right.” Because I was never around her that much until that point. They came to the house and then in Miami. And I said, “Mike, something ain’t right.”

Do you recall in Miami whether Gavin was saying anything about Michael Jackson being a father?


And what was Gavin saying?

He was repeating the same thing. It was — it was — she was saying “father,” and Gavin was saying “father,” and he was saying I was a brother, and it was just getting to be a little bit too much.”[9]

All this made Tucker gradually distance himself from the family.

Another comedian that the Arvizo family befriended was George Lopez. On March 28, 2005, as a prosecution witness, Lopez testified at Jackson’s trial that he had initially met the Arvizo family at the Laugh Factory. When Gavin fell ill with cancer the mother Janet Arvizo called him on the phone to inform him about it. Lopez then went to the hospital to visit Gavin. The father David Arvizo complained to Lopez that they did not have any money and from then on Lopez regularly gave the Arvizos small amounts of money and gifts to help them and on one occasion he took them to shopping. The prosecution tried emphasize that it was the father David Arvizo who was asking for the money, not the mother Janet Arvizo.

Lopez further testified that David Arvizo asked him to organize a fund-raiser for Gavin at the Laugh Factory but at this time it became apparent to him that it was not about Gavin’s health but about the money.

“What is it that he was asking you to do?

He was asking me to take care of a fund-raiser for Gavin, which I was more than happy to do. But then it became apparent to me that it wasn’t about Gavin anymore. I was about how Gavin was and how he was feeling. I wasn’t about money for Gavin. And it seemed to me at that time that David Arvizo was more interested in the money than he was about his son.

All right. Was David working at the time, to your knowledge?

To my knowledge, I don’t think he was working.

Did he ever express to you any concerns about insurance, medical insurance?

I was always led to believe that they had no insurance whatsoever.” [10]

(Emphasis added.)

Again, the prosecution tried to emphasize that it was David Arvizo making these requests not Janet, as if Janet Arvizo was not involved in such manipulative behavior and frauds on her own (see the part above about her welfare fraud, for example).

Lopez’s statement that he was led to believe that the family had no insurance is significant because, as you will see below, the family did have a good health insurance that covered all of Gavin’s medical costs so they did not actually need all this money that they requested from celebrities and that they were trying to get through fund-raisers by telling people that they were in need of money to cover Gavin’s medical bills. On cross-examination by Michael Jackson’s attorney Thomas Mesereau Lopez also told that the family never told him about their lawsuit against J.C. Penney either. [10]

According to Lopez David Arvizo was pushing him to organize the fund-raiser and after a while he became “pretty aggressive”, calling Lopez at all the times about when it would happen and about the amount of money that they would raise. The last time Lopez saw David Arvizo was when the latter approached him outside of a restaurant and “asked me aggressively what was the deal with the fund-raiser. And I told him that I didn’t think it was going to happen. And he said, “What do you mean it’s not going to happen?” And I said, “It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.” And then he — his tone changed, and we had words, and that was the last time I ever saw him.” [10]

In his testimony Lopez also described an incident when Gavin left his wallet in his house (in a room where he was not supposed to go, by the way). Lopez found it and he returned it to the Arvizo family, but he later learnt that David Arvizo told Jamie Masada, a mutual comedian friend they had from the Laugh Factory, that Lopez stole $300 from Gavin’s wallet. This contributed to Lopez cutting ties with the family, according to his testimony. On cross-examination by Michael Jackson’s attorney Thomas Mesereau Lopez additionally told about that incident that he later learnt that Masada compensated David Arvizo for the “stolen” $300 which upset Lopez because he felt it indicated that Masada believed the Arvizos over him. [10]

Lopez further stated that both Gavin and Star were asking him to buy gifts for them and the father, who was there with them, never intervened to stop them. [10]

Other than David Arvizo accusing Lopez of stealing from Gavin, another reason for the comedian’s distancing himself from the family was that David Arvizo “got kind of nasty” when Lopez’s wife confronted him about his constant requests for money. Lopez himself also had a heated confrontation with David Arvizo and then Lopez cut off all his relationships with the family.

“Okay. David tried to make you feel guilty about not helping Gavin at that point, didn’t he?

Um, yes. At the point of May 5th, he did.

And you told him basically he’s an extortionist, correct?

I did.

That wasn’t a pleasant conversation, was it?

It was not.


And I don’t use big words like that, you know.


All right. Now, after you called him an extortionist, what happened next?

You know, it was pretty — it was a pretty heated exchange. And after that, he left. And, you know, I got — I got to be honest with you, after that, I had no conversations with Gavin or any of the Arvizos after May 5th of that day.” [10]

Another comedian Jay Leno had only a brief contact with the Arvizos before he cut them off. Leno testified at Jackson’s trial on May 24, 2005 and told the jury that in about 2000 it was fellow comedian Lousie Palanker who asked him to call this cancer stricken child Gavin Arvizo in the hospital. He did and talked to him, his brother Star and his mother Janet on the phone on one occasion. Leno noted that the boy sounded “overly effusive for a 12-year-old” [11], overboard with the praises he showered Leno. He also felt that Gavin sounded “very adult-like” [11]. According to his testimony he even told Palanker afterwards: “What’s the story here? This” — “This doesn’t sound like a 12-year-old. This sounds like an adult person.” It seemed — I — I think the words I used was, “It seemed a little scripted in his speech.” And then she said to me, you know, “That’s just the way he is. He wants to be a comic, so he writes everything out before he says it, and then he kind of reads it. And I said, “Oh, okay.” Well, that sort of made sense at the time.” [11] Gavin started to send Leno messages and trying to reach him again but according to Leno this was unusual from a child. He got annoyed by Gavin’s messages and asked Palanker to make him stop and that was the end of his brief contact with the family. He never personally met them.[11]

Although the Arvizos often indicated or straight up told people that they were in need of money to pay Gavin’s medical bills, in reality the family had an insurance which covered all of Gavin’s medical expenses. This did not stop them from trying to solicit money from not only celebrities but also from regular people using Gavin’s illness for sympathy.

On May 23, 2005 Connie Keenan, editor of the Mid Valle News, a community newspaper in the City of El Monte, testified at Michael Jackson’s trial about how Janet Arvizo manipulated her newspaper and its readers for money. She told that one day in 2000 Janet Arvizo called them and asked them to run a story about Gavin’s illness and ask their readers to donate money to him. Keenen was not sure about running the story because it was not in the profile of the paper but she eventually had an intern Christie Causer write an article about it although she was suspicious about the money Janet Arvizo claimed Gavin’s treatment cost. For example, she claimed that one chemotherapy injection cost more than $12,000. The story appeared in the newspaper and then Janet Arvizo asked them to run it for a second time because they did not raise enough money from the first article. Keenan a couple of months later called the Kaiser Permanente hospital that treated Gavin and found out that she and her readers had been “duped”, as she put it, because Gavin’s medical bills were fully covered by insurance. [12]

Janet Arvizo admitted in her testimony that all of their medical costs have been covered by insurance but she denied being aware of anyone donating money to them to cover medical expenses. When asked about that particular request that she made to the Mid Valley News for donations to cover medical bills she gave vague and elusive answers.

“Did you withdraw thousands of dollars from that account?

Yes, I sure did.

Was any of that money used for medical expenses?

No, there was no need for medical expenses in the hospital, because everything was covered through Kaiser.

Okay. And were you ever aware that anyone donated money to that account to help with medical expenses?


Now, you’ve told the jury you told someone at the Mid Valley News about $1200* per type of treatment, correct?

And I was expressing to her that – that thank God our family is experiencing a lot of miracles, and that was covered.

And you never mentioned the word “chemotherapy” to that person, true?

I think I did. It was — it was a little story about my son being ill.

Did you ever mention the cost of chemotherapy to Miss Causer?

ZONEN: I’m going to object as asked and answered.

THE COURT: Overruled. You may answer.

THE WITNESS: I think what I was telling her was a story complete about the miracles that we were experiencing. That’s it.” [13]

(*In her testimony Janet Arvizo claimed that she told the Mid Valley News that one chemotherapy injection cost $1200 not $12,000, however, Connie Keenan in her testimony was positive that Janet Arvizo said $12,000 and Keenan said that she even re-checked the tape that Christie Causer made of the interview with Janet Arvizo to verify it.)

Wholesome, innocent, naïve kids?

The prosecution tried to portray Gavin and Star Arvizo as wholesome, innocent little kids who were naïve about sexuality, never cussed and never drank alcohol before Jackson allegedly corrupted them. Gavin and the prosecution also made sure to emphasize Gavin and his family’s religiousness. Apparently this was an appeal to the emotions of a presumably conservative Santa Barbara jury and to the religious sentiments of the American general public. However, as the we heard more and more testimonies about the family and the kids’ past and their general behavior it became evident that this was a false portrayal of them.

In the previous articles you could already read about the lies and changing stories that these kids and their mother had no problem telling under oath in this very case which in itself flies in the face of thise “wholesome” portrayal, but there is more to tell about whether the Arvizo boys were really as innocent, naïve and wholesome as portrayed by themselves and the prosecution.

In the article The Changing Content of the Allegations and Contradictions you could read about how Gavin initially claimed that it was his grandmother who told him that men have to masturbate because otherwise they might rape women. By the time the case went to court Gavin claimed it was Michael Jackson who told him that and when he was caught in the contradiction by Jackson’s attorney Thomas Mesereau, to get out of it Gavin claimed that both Jackson and his grandmother told him the same thing. This is important because Gavin’s story was that this was how Jackson introduced him to masturbation and the molestation. He also claimed that before Jackson introduced him to masturbation and pornography he had no idea what they were and he acted as if he was a sexually clueless little boy before Jackson allegedly corrupted him at the age of 13. However, there have been several accounts by people who knew them and other evidence which refuted this notion about the Arvizo boys.

Carol Lamere has known both Michael Jackson and the Arvizos independently for years before the Arvizos even met the singer. She used to work for Jackson as a hair stylist. Independently from that she met the Arvizos in the mid-1990’s when Janet Arvizo enrolled her kids in dancing lessons at a studio run by a friend of Lamere’s, Arlene Kennedy.

In interviews that she gave to private investigators in 2004, among other things, she stated that the Arvizo kids had serious behavioral problems before they even met Michael Jackson. Specifically she described Star Arvizo as a “horny nine year old” and told about how at that age the boy was flirting with adult women in an “unnatural manner”. She recalled an occasion in a restaurant when Star tried to pick up the waitress by offering her a $5 tip. Then Star demanded the waitress’ phone number and became vocally angered and irate when she refused, demanding his money back. Lamere also said that Star had a crush on her as well. [14]

Lamere also told that in 2000 the older sister of the Arvizo boys Davellin lived with her for a while because she did not get along with her mother. Davellin told her stories about their mother physically abusing them, forcing them to shoplift and making them tell lies – among others about their father David sexually molesting Davellin. Lamere described the Arvizo children as “trained con-artists”. [14]

Two young cousins of Michael Jackson Simone and Rijo Jackson (siblings) were often present at Neverland while the Arvizos were there in February-March 2003. At the time Rijo was 10 years old and Simone was 14. Rijo testified at Jackson’s trial in 2005 that on one occasion he stayed with Gavin and Star Arvizo in their guest unit and the Arvizo boys (who were 2-3 years older than Rijo) were watching an adult program on TV with nude women and started to masturbate under the sheets. They invited Rijo to join them but he refused and ran away. [15] Rijo also recalled hearing the Arvizo boys talk about girls all of the time. [14]

Rijo testified that he witnessed the Arvizo boys steal money and other items from the office of the house manager Jesus Salas and from a drawer where a chef kept his belongings. [15] According to Rijo, looking through drawers and paperwork is how the Arvizo boys found out the various combinations to keypad locks on doors throughout the ranch, including the wine cellar. Rijo stated that he saw the Arvizo boys frequently go to the wine cellar, although he could not tell if they were drinking because he never joined them. He also stated that Gavin and Star went to Michael Jackson’s room several times while the singer was not there [14].

Rijo’s sister Simone testified in 2005 that one night she witnessed Gavin and Star Arvizo steal wine from the kitchen. When Simone saw that she told them they were not allowed to do it but they told her to be quiet and not to say anything to anyone [16]. Michael Jackson was not present [14].

By the way, Rijo and Simone’s testimonies go against Gavin’s testimony in which he claimed that he had never gone to the wine cellar and drunk alcohol without Jackson being present.

Did you ever go down there and drink any alcohol without Mr. Jackson being present.

No. [17]

In his testimony Gavin also claimed that before Jackson gave him wine he never drank alcohol outside of church [18].

No independent witness (ie. someone who was not a member of the Arvizo family) had ever claimed to have seen Jackson serve alcohol to minors. On the other hand, there have been witnesses who saw the Arvizo boys with alcohol and in the wine cellar while Jackson was not there.

Simone also testified that while she was in the pool one time Gavin and Star repeatedly urged her to take off her bathing suit top. When she refused “Star called me a pussy and a bitch because I wouldn’t take off my top. I called my mom and told her about it. They were really rude and wouldn’t leave me alone.” [14] Simone’s mother Peaches Jackson called Jackson’s bodyguard Chris Carter who in turn informed Michael Jackson about the incident. Michael Jackson asked Star to apologize to Simone telling him “I can’t make you, but I’m asking you to apologize.” [14] According to Simone Star did apologize but avoided her from that point forward. Simone also said that she had witnessed the Arvizo boys steal a laminated $1000 bill from Jackson’s desk in his office. [14]

By the way, Gavin also had an e-mail address with America Online, where his password was “Sexy”. [14]

Other guests and staff at Neverland also reported a disruptive behavior by the Arvizo boys.

Julio Avila, an employee of Michael Jackson who operated the amusement park rides at Neverland stated in a declaration that he found the Arvizo boys to be “troublemakers” and that “the boys behaved as if they owned the place” [19]. He stated that both Gavin and Star spat at him and other employees while on the rides. They would also drop their shoes from the top of the ferris wheel trying to hit park personnel. They continued to misbehave even after they were asked by several employees to stop. On one occasion the boys dangerously started a ride by themselves although they were not allowed to. While confronted about operating the machinery without adult supervision they were belligerent and sarcastic. Avila also said that he observed Star Arvizo writing the words “You suck dick” on a wall in one of the control rooms in the park. Avila stated that he also witnessed Star bringing pornographic magazines to the park and he hid them in various places, including the control box of the park stereo and on the rides. When Avila asked him where did he get the magazines from Star told him he brought them from home [19]. Another Neverland employee Maria Gomez testified on May 16, 2005 that she saw adult magazines in Star Arvizo’s backpack while she was once cleaning the guest unit where they were staying [20]. An ex-employee of Jackson Kiki Fournier testified as a prosecution witness that Star Arvizo once pulled a knife on her in the kitchen, although she considered it a joke [21].

Even testimonies by prosecution witnesses who were put on the stand to vouch for the Arvizo family’s integrity backfired at the Arvizos.

Louise Palanker was another one of the several comedians who the Arvizos befriended at the Laugh Factory. As a prosecution witness under direct examination by prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss she portrayed Janet Arvizo and her children as honest and genuine people. The prosecution’s strategy was to blame every less than honest thing that the family provably was involved in on David Arvizo, the estranged father and separate Janet Arvizo and their children from those actions. Their narrative was that it was David who forced his otherwise “honest” family into these dubious things. This was refuted by evidence about actions that can clearly be attributed to Janet and/or her children and show that Janet and their children did not have to be under David’s influence to commit such dishonest acts (see the welfare fraud that Janet committed after she and David had already separated, Janet’s actions in the J.C. Penney case as per Mary Holzer’s testimony, the children’s and their mother’s demonstrable lies and changing stories in this very case, their manipulative behavior to celebrities even after Janet and David had seperated etc.).

However, true to the prosecution’s narrative, on direct examination Palanker was quick to point her finger at David Arvizo whenever she had to concede to anything that would put the Arvizo family in a bad light. For example, she told about how when Gavin underwent chemotherapy she gave the Arvizos $20,000 to renovate a sterile room in the house of his grandmother that Gavin needed to recover. Palanker wrote them two separate checks for $10,000. Palanker pointed out that it was David Arvizo who she handed the check to. She said that she was not pressured by the family into giving them the money, it was all her decision, but she also stated that “very often from that point forward” [22] David Arvizo kept asking her for money for such things as paying the rent and utilities. According to Palanker David claimed that they already spent the money she had given them and they needed more money. Palanker admitted that she did not believe this was true, but again, the prosecution’s and Palanker’s narrative was that this was all just David Arvizo. Palanker admitted that she later learnt that the family actually paid the contractor only $800 for the renovation – just his bare costs, but they never paid him for the labor. The contractor eventually decided that he would write off the rest of his fee as a gift to Gavin, although this was not what he and the family had agreed upon previously. [22]

On cross examination, however, it came out that in an earlier police interview Palanker’s opinion about the Arvizos, and not just David Arvizo, was less favorable. For example, in an interview with the sheriff’s investigators on January 7, 2005 Palanker stated that the Arvizo family was “out of balance” and that she felt that “the kids collaborated in what she [Janet Arvizo] was saying. I just wanted to be out of it.” [22] This was in the context of her $10,000 check to the family. It is curious why she would say the kids collaborated in what Janet Arvizo was saying if she felt that David Arvizo was the mastermind behind all the schemes. Also the two $10,000 checks that she gave to David Arvizo were deposited into the bank account of the mother of Janet Arvizo. Palanker was not aware of this until a private investigator for the defense informed her about it during the preparations for the trial. This suggests that Janet Arvizo was involved in these things just like David Arvizo was.

In the same police interview Palanker also stated “This family can be as whacky as they want to be” and “I know that Janet’s unbalanced. I think she’s totally bipolar” and “Janet needs to see a psychologist” [22]. She also admitted that she felt that the children were coached to ask her for a laptop computer as a gift. She also said in her police interview in January 2005 that “these people [the Arvizos] are teaching their kids to lie” [22]. On the stand she tried to explain that by saying that it was not her opinion of them but that of George Lopez and his wife – as if that would make it better.

In the same interview Palanker also stated “They would go over to his house anytime they encountered a celebrity if they felt to be important. They would go over the top with cards and phone calls. And at first I thought, after I found out what — maybe they saw celebrities as a lifeline to get out of her [Janet Arvizo’s] situation — to get her out of her situation that she had gotten into at 16.” [22] Meaning that Janet Arvizo was a teen mother at the age of 16.

It has to be noted, and perhaps this explains Palanker’s change of tone between her police interview in January and testimony in March 2005, that Palanker had a romantic relationship with one of the case’s prosecutors Ron Zonen. A few years later they eventually got married.

Another prosecution witness Cynthia Ann Bell, a flight attendant for XTra Jet International testified about her experiences with Michael Jackson and the Arvizo family on the airplane that took them from Miami back to California in early February 2003. Besides Michael Jackson, his children, Janet, Gavin, Star and Davellin Arvizo there were a number of other associates of the singer on that plane. The prosecution made much of the fact that Jackson drank wine from a soda can on the plane and the Arvizo boys claimed that Jackson gave them alcohol from that soda can but Bell testified that she never saw Jackson gave alcohol to the kids. In actuality, Bell testified that Jackson’s intention with drinking the wine from a soda can was exactly that he did not want children to see him drink alcohol. The singer regularly flew with that flight company and Bell testified that he usually drank wine on the plane because he was a very nervous flyer. He usually drank alcohol from “a plastic thermal, like, mug-looking thing” [23] but on that flight there was not any available and it was Bell’s idea to put the wine in a soda can instead. Bell testified that she had never seen Jackson behave inappropriately with any child. She had nothing but nice things to say about the singer.

“Well, he’s very soft-spoken, and typically because of — he’s very polite and very soft-spoken, I would have to kneel and gain eye contact with Mr. Jackson. And, you know, he is very, you know — you know, would touch my arm when we were communicating. I don’t mean touchy-feely like in a weird sort of manner. Just sort of a polite, gaining eye contact, you know, maintaining, you know, communication that way.

You never found Mr. Jackson to be rude or impolite, did you?

Absolutely not, neither him or his children.” [23]

She had the polar opposite impression of the Arvizo children and specifically Gavin. She described Gavin as “very rude” [23] and she further stated “The individual was unusually rude, discourteous, very — I remember him talking about, “I got this watch from Michael, and it’s really expensive,” and just — altogether just not — just loud, obnoxious, like, “Serve me my food. This isn’t warm. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.” And he was just unintelligent. It was embarrassing to have him on board, actually.” [23] and “Well, he was just incredibly rude. And I find that behavior unintelligent, and strange.” [24]

Bell also made it clear that Gavin behaved in this unacceptable way during the whole flight and that his mother, although witnessed her son’s behavior, did nothing to discipline him.

“BY MR. MESEREAU: How soon after Gavin got on that plane did the rude behavior start?


And when you say “immediately,” where was Gavin when the rude behavior began?

When he came up the stairs to enter the aircraft.

And what was the first rude thing he did?

He threw his book bag at me and started ordering me around the cabin as to where he wanted placement of his items.

And how did you respond to that?

Polite and efficiently.

Was his mother near him when he began the rude behavior?


And if you recall, where was his mother when Gavin began this rude behavior?

She entered the aircraft behind him.

Was it obvious to you that she could see his rude behavior?


What’s the next rude thing you recall him doing on the plane?

He was just very demanding throughout the entire flight, with wanting to get his needs met, whether it was, you know, more ice in his orange soda, to no cole slaw on his plate with his chicken, more mashed potatoes. It seemed like nothing — his chicken wasn’t warm. He — you know, “I want a side of cole slaw. I don’t want it on the same plate.” Just unusual things, like just very — like, you can tell that, like, he was a newcomer to these sort of flights. Either you have people who are really polite or lovely, or you have people who are really demanding, and they feel like they need to be that way to make them feel important. I’m not sure why. But he was very demanding throughout the entire flight.” [24]

On redirect examination prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss attempted to blame Gavin’s rude behavior somehow on Jackson by asking the question “Did it seem odd to you that Mr. Jackson didn’t do anything to stop this young boy from being what you said was rude?” [24], even though Gavin’s mother was on the plane, witnessed her son’s behavior and it was her place to discipline him, not anyone else’s. Bell, however, pointed out that Jackson’s own children were very well mannered and disciplined and that Jackson always intervened when they misbehaved.

“BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Does he [Michael Jackson] intervene when his children —

Absolutely. They’re very well disciplined and polite.” [24]

Bell also testified that while she had never served alcohol to the boys, she did serve their older sister Davellin Arvizo alcohol on the plane although she too was still a minor – and that was because Davellin presented her with a fake identity document that stated she was over 21 years old. She stated firmly that she had never seen Jackson give alcohol to Davellin or the Arvizo boys. [23]

The Arvizo family and the prosecution attempted to spin Gavin’s behavior that flew in the face of their “wholesome, innocent, naïve little boy” portrayal and suggest that he was just acting out as a result of Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse of him. Gavin’s sister Davellin, for example, told police investigators in interviews that were conducted with the family in 2003 that Gavin was a “loving little boy” who only became aggressive and argumentative after their stay at Neverland and Janet Arvizo claimed similar things [25]. Gavin’s brother Star Arvizo said in a deposition regarding the J.C. Penney incident that Gavin would not steal because he wanted to become a priest (when he did steal in that incident) [26]. However, testimonies like Bell’s clearly refute this because they show that Gavin was very disruptive and far from innocent and wholesome even before the date of the alleged molestations.

According to the prosecution’s Statement of Probable Cause Star Arvizo also claimed to them about that flight that Jackson “was acting funny on the plane. Michael was poking others in the ‘butt’ with his foot. He was making crank calls on the plane to unknown people and asking, ‘Does your pussy stink?'”[26]. Star also claimed that it was Jackson who taught them to curse and he wanted them to curse [26]. This behavior would be very uncharacteristic for Jackson though. By every account he was the polar opposite of this description and it was very important for him to teach children to be polite and well-mannered and speak nicely. His own children were a testament to that. However, the behavior described by Star, as you could see above, was very much characteristic for the Arvizo boys. It appears that a lot of their allegations were made up of stories in which they projected their own behavior and character onto Jackson.

Also well before date of the alleged abuse by Jackson Gavin had a reputation of being argumentative and impudent with teachers in school. During his cross-examination at the trial he had this exchange with Jackson’s attorney Thomas Mesereau.

I don’t really remember what I said. It probably happened, because a lot of times there was — I would stand up to the teacher. A lot of the kids would kind of congratulate me, and then —

You were kind of a hero for standing up to teachers.



Okay. Did you have problems with your conduct —


— in Mr. Finklestein’s class.


Please tell the jury what those problems were.

Same problems with every other teacher.

And what do you mean by that.

I was kind of argumentative sometimes, and I shouldn’t have been. I didn’t like the way he taught because I wasn’t learning anything.

And what did you do in his class that caused a disruption.

I would argue sometimes about the way he would teach, and that he wouldn’t use our textbooks. And I asked him why we have these textbooks, if he didn’t let us use them.

And were you disciplined at all.

Yes, sometimes he would send me out of class.” [18]

This line of questioning does not only show Gavin’s behavior problems way before the alleged abuse, but also that he was not the kind of child who would have been easy to victimize. Gavin could not hide his brazenness even on the stand during the Michael Jackson case.

BY MR. MESEREAU: Okay. Do you remember when you were in front of the Santa Barbara Grand Jury, [lead prosecutor] Mr. Sneddon told you there was an order that you not talk to the media, and your response was,“Oh, man, I was going to have a press conference”. Do you remember that. 

That was probably a joke.

That was a joke. 


So you’re in front of the Santa Barbara Grand Jury talking about this case and you’re telling a joke. 

Yes.” [7]


[1] Memorandum regarding the use of J.C. Penney issues in defense opening statement (February 28, 2005)

[2] Janet Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (April 18, 2005)

[3] Mary Holzer’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (May 24, 2005)

[4] Janet Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (April 15, 2005)

[5] Felony Complaint for Arrest Warrant Against Janet Arvizo (August 23, 2005)
Janet Arvizo Welfare Fraud Charges

[6] Mom of Jackson’s Accuser: I’m Only a Small Fraud (TMZ, August 1, 2007)

[7] Gavin Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 15, 2005)

[8] Chris Tucker’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (May 24, 2005)

[9] Chris Tucker’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (May 25, 2005)

[10] George Lopez’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 28, 2005)

[11] Jay Leno’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (May 24, 2005)

[12] Connie Keenan’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (May 23, 2005)

[13] Janet Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (April 18, 2005)

[14] Notice of Motion and Motion to Admit Evidence of Gavin Arvizo and Star Arvizo’s Sexual Conduct (March 1, 2005)

[15] Rijo Jackson’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (May 18, 2005)

[16] Simone Jackson’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (May 17, 2005)

[17] Gavin Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 10, 2005)

[18] Gavin Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 14, 2005)

[19] Motion to exclude or limit the testimony of witnesses Julio Avila and Prudence Brando (May 23, 2005)

[20] Maria Gomez’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (May 16, 2005)

[21] Kiki Fournier’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 17, 2005)

[22] Louise Palanker’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 22, 2005)

[23] Cynthia Ann Bell’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 29, 2005)

[24] Cynthia Ann Bell’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 30, 2005)

[25] Statement of Probable Cause (filed by the Prosecution on November 17, 2003)

[26] Star Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 8, 2005)

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