The Myth of the Arvizos Not Wanting Money

Michael Jackson’s detractors often try to elevate Gavin Arvizo’s credibility by claiming that the Arvizo family (unlike all of Jackson’s other accusers) was never after money. After all they went to a criminal trial, not a civil. Here is this argument from a meme circulated by Jackson detractors on social media:

Where to start with the number of falsehoods in this short passage?

First of all, although Gavin met Jackson at the age of 10, he did not claim he was abused between the ages of 10 and 13. His allegation is that Jackson abused him in February-March 2003, when Gavin was 13 year old. There is no claim of sexual abuse before that.

But the main point I want to address here is this claim: “refuses to take any money offered, has never profited from the accusations”.

The language used here is deliberately manipulative and it may mislead those who are not well informed about this case. It suggests that Jackson offered money to Gavin, only he refused to take it. This is a bold-faced lie. The fact is that Jackson never offered any money to Gavin or the Arvizo family, so they had nothing to “refuse”.

But unlike the other accusers, they never went to a civil lawyer, they went to the police instead, right?


Attorney Larry Feldman, the civil lawyer representing not only the Chandlers in 1993, but also the Arvizos in 2003

They did go to civil lawyers first.

In actuality,they went to not one, but TWO civil lawyers shortly after they were kicked out of Neverland in March 2003. One of those lawyers was Larry Feldman, the exact same lawyer who negotiated a $15 million settlement for the Chandlers in 1993. Mind you, they went to Feldman BEFORE Gavin made any allegations of sexual abuse to anyone. Then, lo and behold, he started making sexual abuse allegations against Jackson AFTER they already had hired Feldman, and after Feldman got into a fee-sharing agreement with the Arvizos’ other attorney, William Dickerman.

The Arvizos, however, had a big problem compared to the Chandlers:  the California law that allowed the Chandlers to push the civil trial ahead of the criminal trial in 1993-94 and thus pressure Jackson for a monetary settlement, was changed since. (See our article about the Chandler settlement.) That meant that the Arvizos could not use the same strategy as the Chandlers did in 1993. And if they had won the criminal case that could have been used to secure an automatic win for them in a civil court, as Feldman explained it in his testimony in 2005. [1]

So it is not a case of the Arvizos not going to civil lawyers. (They did! Moreover, they went to the very same lawyer who made $15 million for the Chandlers.) It is a case of the legal environment changing since 1993.

There is more to the story of the Arvizos’ dealings with their civil lawyers and how their allegations emerged AFTER those lawyers got involved and got into a fee-sharing agreement with each other. You can read about that in detail in this chapter.

In theory the Arvizos could have filed a civil lawsuit after the criminal trial, but their case crumbled so badly in the criminal trial and their credibility was so shot, that doing so would have probably been a futile exercise for them.

In actuality, just two months after Jackson’s acquittal the accuser’s mother, Janet Arvizo was charged with five counts of welfare fraud – in part based on information that came out during the Jackson trial. (For details see this article, the “Welfare fraud” chapter.) She pleaded “no contest” and was eventually sentenced to paying a fine and doing community service time.

They also tried to get money from the case in other ways. From Larry Feldman’s 2005 testimony we learn that in 2004 he filed a claim on behalf of the Arvizos with the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services, seeking monetary damages, because the DCFS’s report from February 20, 2003 got leaked to the public. [1]

We also know from a fleeting mention from a prosecution document that the Arvizos applied for victims’ compensation in November 2003 [2].

If you take a deeper look into this case and study it in its entirety you will see that the Arvizos were anything but uninterested in money. Evidence and a string of testimonies showed that they had a history of manipulative behavior and grifting.

For a full study of the 2005 Arvizo case see this section of the website.

[1] Larry Feldman’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (April 1, 2005)
[2] Statement of Probable Cause (filed by the Prosecution on November 17, 2003)
(page 34)
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