(CBS) For most of his life, Michael Jackson has been in the spotlight, most recently because of what has been described as bizarre behavior -— bizarre behavior that has now led him to be charged with sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy. If convicted, he could spend 20 years in prison.
Now out on bail and awaiting trial, tonight Michael Jackson speaks out for the first time about his arrest, his accuser and the charges that have, for the moment, made his life a shambles.
We sat down with Michael Jackson on Christmas Day at a hotel in Los Angeles –one of several cities where he has been in seclusion since authorities in Santa Barbara officially charged him with seven counts of sexual molestation and two counts of
Ed Bradley: What is your response to the allegations that were brought by the district attorney in Santa Barbara, that you molested this boy?
Michael: Totally false. Before I would hurt a child, I would slit my wrists. I would never hurt a child. It’s totally false. I was outraged. I could never do something like that.
Ed Bradley: This is a kid you knew?
Ed Bradley: How would you characterize your relationship with this boy?
Michael: I’ve helped many, many, many children, thousands of children, cancer kids, leukemia kids. This is one of many.
Ed Bradley: So, when he would come over, what would he do? What would you do?
Michael: I’ll tell you exactly. When I first saw Gavin, he was total bald-headed, white as snow from the chemotherapy, very bony, looked anorexic, no eyebrows, no eyelashes. And he was so weak, I would have to carry him from the house to the game room, or push him in a wheelchair, to try to give him a childhood, a life. ’Cause I felt bad. Because I never had that chance, too, as a child. You know? That the — and so, I know what it — it felt like in that way. Not being sick, but not having had a childhood. So, my heart go out to those children I feel their pain.
Michael says he tried to help in the healing process by taking the boy around the grounds of Neverland to Jackson’s favorite places.
Michael: He had never really climbed a tree. So, I had this tree that I have at Neverland. I call it, ‘My Giving Tree’. ’Cause I like to write songs up there. I’ve written many songs up there. So, I said, “You have to climb a tree. That’s part of boyhood. You just gotta 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. To give him a chance to have a life, you know? Because he was told he was going to die. They told him. They told his — his parents prepare for his funeral, that’s how bad it was. And I put him on a program. I’ve helped many children doing this. I put him on a mental program.
Ed Bradley: What was going through your mind when you’re taken into a police station, in handcuffs, to have a mug shot taken, that you know is gonna be shown around the world?
Michael: They did it to try and belittle me, to try and to take away my pride. But I went through the whole system with them. And at the end, I — I wanted the public to know that I was okay, even though I was hurting.
Ed Bradley: What happened when they arrested you? What did they do to you?
Michael: They were supposed to go in, and just check fingerprints, and do the whole thing that they do when they take somebody in. They manhandled me very roughly. My shoulder is dislocated, literally. It’s hurting me very badly. I’m in pain all the time. This is, see this arm? This is as far as I can reach it. Same with this side over here.
Ed Bradley: Because of what happened at the police station?
Michael: Yeah. Yeah. At the police station. And what they did to me — if you — if you saw what they did to my arms — it was very bad what they did. It’s very swollen. I don’t wanna say. You’ll see. You’ll see .
Ed Bradley: How did they do it? I mean, what, physically, what did they do?
Michael: With the handcuffs, the way they tied ’em too tight behind my back —
Ed Bradley: Behind your back?
Michael: Yeah. And putting it, they put it in a certain position, knowing that it’s going to hurt, and affect my back. Now I can’t move. I - I - it keeps me from sleeping at night. I can’t sleep at night.
And Michael says there was more:
Michael: Then one time, I asked to use the restroom. And they said, “Sure, it’s right around the corner there.” Once I went in the restroom, they locked me in there for like 45 minutes. They was doo doo, feces thrown all over the walls, the floor, the ceiling. And it stunk so bad. Then one of the policemen came by the window. And he made a sarcastic remark. He said, “Smell — does it smell good enough for you in there? How do you like the smell? Is it good?” And I just simply said, “It’s alright. It’s okay.” So, I just sat there, and waited.
Ed Bradley: For 45 minutes?
Michael: Yeah, for 45 minutes. About 45 minutes. And then — then one cop would — come by, and say, “Oh, you’ll be out in — in a second. You’ll be out in a second.” Then there would be another ten minutes added on, then another 15 minutes added on. They did this on purpose.
Ed Bradley: How did you feel when they went into Neverland, I mean, with a search warrant? I mean, what were they looking for? What did they take?
Michael: My room is a complete wreck. My workers told me. They said, “Michael, don’t go in your room.” They were crying on the phone, my employees. They said, “If you saw your room, you would cry.” I have stairs that go up to my bed. And they said, “You can’t even get up the stairs. The room is totally trashed.” And they had 80 policemen in this room, 80 policemen in one bedroom. That’s really overdoing it. They took knives, and cut open my mattresses with knives — just cut everything open.
Ed Bradley: Did — did they take anything from Neverland?
Michael: I’m not sure what they took. They never gave me a list.
Ed Bradley: But you’re saying that they destroyed your property?
Michael: Yes, they did. And then they, what they did was they made everybody that work at the property —, they locked everybody out of the house. They had the whole house to themselves to do whatever they wanted. And — they totally took advantage. They went into areas they weren’t supposed to go into — like my office. They didn’t have search warrants for those places. And they totally took advantage. And the room is a total, total wreck, they told me. I don’t think I wanna see it. I’m not ready to see it yet.
Ed Bradley: So, you haven’t been back there?
Michael: I’ve been back there. But not in my bedroom. I won’t live there ever again. I’ll visit Neverland. It’s a house now. It’s not a home anymore. I’ll only visit there. What time is it? ’Cause I’m hurting. You know what? I’m — I’m hurting. I have to go pretty soon anyway. Yeah. Okay. I don’t feel good.
Michael goes on to talk about how he thinks it’s all about the money…
Michael: Somewhere greed got in there, and somebody — I — I can’t quite say. But it has to do with money. “It’s Michael Jackson. Look what we have here. We can get money out of this.” That’s exactly what happened.
Ed Bradley: You had helped him with his cancer. What I don’t understand is why today and I know you say it’s money, but why would he turn around and say, “Michael Jackson sexually molested me,” if it weren’t true?
Michael: Because parents have power over children. They feel they have to do what their parents say. But the love of money is the root of all evil. And this is a sweet child. And to see him turn like this, this isn’t him. This is not him.
Ed Bradley: So, you don’t think this comes from him? This…
Ed Bradley: … comes from his parents?
Michael: No. This is not him. No. I know his heart.
Michael said he would never settle this case.
Ed Bradley: When the accusations that were made, the allegations back in 1993, you were innocent of those allegations then?
Ed Bradley: So — if you were innocent, why would you pay, I mean, to keep you quiet? I mean, why not go into court, and fight for your good name? I mean…
Michael: I’m not allowed to talk on that…
Male Voice: I’m gonna stop you for a second.
Ed Bradley: Sure.
Mark Geragos (Michael’s lawyer at that time): I mean, remember what happened to him ten years ago. He was humiliated. He was — he went through where somebody — was examining him. Was photographing him. Was having him… humiliating him in the worst way in terms of looking at his private parts and photographing his private parts. And — and he was subjected to some of the most, just intrusive kinds of things that you could ever imagine. I can only try to put myself into that situation and — and say look: If money could make that situation go away, maybe that — that was the calculus then. I don’t know and I don’t wanna second guess it
Ed Bradley: But — but what you end up with is the public perception that this has happened not once, this has happened twice. That young boys have — have come forward to accuse him of — of sexual molestation over the last ten years. And he has made public comments about how he enjoys sharing his bed with children. Can you understand how the public might feel that, hey, maybe there’s something here. There’s a lot of smoke.
Mark Geragos: Well, look. There’s a lot of smoke. But a lot of the people who blow the smoke are — are twisting what’s happened. I understand when people say, now, there’s somebody else who came forward. But I — I think, in all fairness, most people ‘get it’. Most people understand that this case is not about anything but money.
Ed Bradley: That British documentary last February — which you didn’t like…
Michael: Yeah, I didn’t like it.
Ed Bradley: You — you said in that documentary that — that many children have slept in your bedroom.
Ed Bradley: You said, and — and I’m gonna quote here, “Why can’t you share your bed? A most loving thing to do is to share your bed with — with someone.”
Ed Bradley: As — as we sit here today, do you still think that it’s acceptable to share your bed with children?
Michael: Of course. Of course. Why not? If you’re gonna be a pedophile, if you’re gonna be ‘Jack, the Ripper’, if you’re gonna be a murderer, it’s not a good idea. That I’m not. That’s how we were raised. And I met — I didn’t sleep in the bed with the child. Even if I did, it’s okay. I slept on the floor. I give the bed to the child.
Ed Bradley: You’re a parent. You’ve got three children.
Ed Bradley: Would you allow your children to sleep in the bed with a grown man, who was not a relative, or to sleep in the bedroom?
Michael: Sure, if I know that person, trust them, and love them. That’s happened many times with me when I was little.
Ed Bradley: Would you, as a parent, allow your children to sleep in the same bedroom with someone, who has the suspicions and allegations that have been made against you, and about you today? Would you allow that?
Ed Bradley: If you knew someone, who had the same —
Michael: I’m not…
Ed Bradley: — kind of allegations —
Michael: Ed, I — I know exactly what you’re saying.
Ed Bradley: — that were made against you — would you let your children…
Michael: My children?
Ed Bradley: …sleep in that man’s bedroom?
Michael: Mmm, if I — if I knew the person personally. ’Cause I know how the press is, and how people can twist the truth, if I knew the person personally, absolutely yes. Absolutely. I wouldn’t have a problem with it.
Ed Bradley: Do you know how this looks to a lot of people? I mean, do you understand that?
Michael: How does what look?
Ed Bradley: How the fact that you…
Michael: Know why? People think sex. They’re thinking sex. My mind doesn’t run that way. When I see children, I see the face of God. That’s why I love them so much. That’s what I see.
Ed Bradley: Do you know any other man your age, a 45-year-old man, who shares his bedroom with children?
Michael: Of course. Not for sex. No. That’s wrong.
Ed Bradley: Well, let me — let me say, from my perspective, my experience, I don’t know any 45 year old men, who are not relatives of the children, who share their bedroom with other children.
Michael: Well, what’s wrong with sharing your bed? I didn’t say I slept in the bed. Even if I did sleep in the bed, it’s okay. I am not going to do anything sexual to a child. It’s not where my heart is. I would never do anything like that. That’s not Michael Jackson. I’m sorry. That’s someone else.
Ed Bradley: What — what has this done to your career?
Michael: What — what has it done to my career?
Ed Bradley: What has it done to your career?
Michael: In what way?
Ed Bradley: How has it impacted — you know…
Michael: I’m — my album…
Ed Bradley: …touring, record sales…
Michael: …album is number one all over the world. All over the world. America is the only one, because I — I don’t wanna say too much.
Ed Bradley: But it’s not number one in the United States?
Michael: It’s a conspiracy. Yeah. I’m getting tired.
Ed Bradley: Michael, what would you say to you — your fans, who have supported you through all of this, and — and who today, some of them might have questions? What would you say to them?
Michael: Well, I would tell them I love them very much. And I — I — they’ve learned about me, and know about me from a distance. But if you really want to know about me, there’s a song I wrote, which is the most honest song I’ve ever written. It’s the most autobiographical song I’ve ever written. It’s called, ‘Childhood’. They should listen to it. That’s the one they really should listen to. And thank you for your support, the fans around the world. I love you with all my heart. I don’t take any of it for granted. Any of it. And I love them dearly, all over the world.