Michael Jackson: Confronting Controversy

Michael Jackson smirks.
In late 2003, facing charges of sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy at his famous Neverland Ranch in California, Michael Jackson addressed the allegations in an interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley.

"I wanted to have a place that I could create everything that I never had as a child. So you see rides, you see animals, there's a movie theater. I was always on tour traveling, you know, and I never got a chance to do those things. So I compensated for the loss by - I have a good time - I mean, I can't go into a park, I can't go to Disneyland as myself. I can't go out and walk down the street. There's crowds and bumper-to-bumper cars. So I create my world behind my gates. Everything that I love is behind those gates. We have elephants and giraffes and crocodiles and every kind of tigers and lions. And we have busloads of kids who don't get to see those kids, they come up, sick children, and enjoy it," Michael Jackson told Bradley.

"They enjoy it in a pure, loving, fun way. It's people with a dirty mind that think like that. I don't think that way. That's not me," Jackson added.

"And do you think people look at you and think that way today?" Bradley asked.

"If they have a sick mind, yeah. And if they believe the trash they read in newspapers, yeah. Remember something, just because it's in print doesn't mean it's the Gospel. People write negative things because they feel that's what sells," Jackson said. "Good news to them doesn't sell."

And Jackson says his relationship with this boy he first met a year ago was positive. He says he was determined to help him with his battle against cancer. Jackson says he tried to help the healing process by taking the boy around the grounds of Neverland to Jackson's favorite places.

"He had never really climbed a tree, so I had this tree that I have at Neverland. I call it my giving tree because I like to write songs up there. I've written many songs up there. I said, 'You have to climb a tree. That's part of boyhood. You've just got to do it.' And I helped him up. And once he went up, up the tree, we looked down on the branches and it was so beautiful. It was magical, and he loved it. It gave him a chance to have a life, you know? Because he was told he was going to die. They told him, they told his parents to prepare for his funeral, that's how bad it was. And I put him on a program. I've helped many children doing this," Jackson told Bradley.

The boy, whose name and face 60 Minutes did not reveal, has credited Michael Jackson's friendship and support with helping him to battle his cancer.

"Isn't that great? Not sick at all. No more cancer," Jackson said.

In a British documentary that was filmed before the boy alleged he was sexually molested, he said that he had stayed overnight at Jackson's home many times and had slept in his bedroom.

"There was one night I stood here and I asked him if I could stay in his bedroom, and he let me stay in the bedroom. And I was like, 'Michael, you can sleep on the bed.' And he was like 'No, no. You sleep on the bed. Sleep on the bed.' We're, like, 'No, no, no. No, you sleep on the bed.' And then he finally said, 'OK, if you love me, you'll sleep on the bed.' I was, like, 'Oh, man.' And so I finally slept on the bed," the boy told the documentary filmmakers.