In November of 2003, Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred notoriously filed a complaint with the child welfare services in Santa Barbara, California, seeking an investigation of Michael Jackson after he dangled his baby from a hotel window. Now Allred talks to momlogic about Michael Jackson's passing, and what's next for Jackson's kids.
Gloria Allred: If she has not relinquished her parental rights, then she may obtain custody of the two older children. There has been a lengthy battle over whether she did relinquish her parental rights. At the time, no attorney was appointed to represent the children, and relinquishment was set aside. His lawyers talked to her lawyers. She may not have relinquished parental rights -- in which case, she may seek and obtain custody of the two older children. The court still has jurisdiction to decide what's in the best interest of the children.
The third child is not hers. With the third child, the issue is guardianship -- who will have guardianship of the child. Maybe Michael Jackson indicated a preference, but just because he indicated a preference, a court is not bound by that preference.
You cannot will a child like a piece of property, or piece of jewelry -- a child is a human being. The court will give great weight to the preference of the parent, but will not be bound by that preference.
We don't know what his will says, we don't know if he has a trust ... there are
a lot of unknowns right now.
ML: What about Michael Jackson's outstanding debt?
Gloria Allred: Whoever obtains guardianship of the kids is going to need funds to take care of these children. But there are lots of debts and creditors who will want to get their money, too. I anticipate there will soon be a probate battle going on.
ML: A lot of moms out there aren't necessarily hailing him as a hero. Some are saying he was a child molester. What do you think?
Gloria Allred: There's no dispute he was a great artist and a great talent, but he exercised very poor judgment and made some poor choices in his personal life. When he dangled the little one off the fourth floor balcony, I filed a complaint with Child Protective Services. I think anyone else other than a celebrity would have had his child removed at least temporarily in that case. And then there was his own admission that he slept with young children who were not his own in the Martin Beshear interview, and his subsequent prosecution. He did fit the profile of a sexual predator of children. Neverland had a lot of things that would attract children: a merry-go-round, animals, all kinds of games, ice cream. He was obviously acquitted in the trial, but he reportedly paid millions to the first child, which is not usually done unless there is some basis to the claims. It was a confidential settlement, but there are reports that he was paid 20 million. I briefly represented that child in the beginning, but did not represent him in the settlement.
In Michael Jackson's personal life, there were some very serious allegations, and that's going to be part of his legacy. I don't see him as a hero. I see him as a great talent, but in his personal life, there were all sorts of questions -- a lot of which had unsatisfactory
ML: Do you have any final thoughts on Michael Jackson's passing?
Gloria Allred: I do anticipate that there may soon be guardianship battles, custody battles, and probate battles. This is the beginning of a whole new chapter. There may even be a criminal case coming out of this in regards to his death. Michael Jackson admitted he took a lot of prescription drugs, so we'll have to see what ultimately killed him. We'll find out when the autopsy report comes out.
In all of this, my heart goes out to his three kids. I'm sure they had a bond with him, and they loved him. This must be very painful for them.
I hope whoever obtains guardianship will put the kids' needs first, and that they will be loved and cared for as they deserve to be. I hope that whoever obtains guardianship will help them have a more normal life. It's a sad day.