At a packed news conference Wednesday, Michael Jackson’s attorney played a tape-recorded conversation that, he asserted, details the alleged extortion attempt aimed at the singer.
The tape consists of what is purported to be an Aug. 17 telephone conversation between Anthony Pellicano, private investigator for Jackson, and an attorney for the father of the 13-year-old boy allegedly molested by the entertainer.
Jackson attorney Howard Weitzman said the tape was released in response to claims that details of the alleged extortion attempt are unclear. “It speaks for itself,” Weitzman said of the tape, which mentions specific dollar amounts of a production deal purportedly being established and names 20th Century Fox as the studio involved.
Pellicano has claimed that the molestation accusations are the result of a failed blackmail attempt.
The tape contains Pellicano’s proposal but leaves unclear what prompted him to offer a one-project production deal to the father.
Pellicano has maintained that the boy’s father demanded a four-project, $ 20 million deal before threatening to make his son’s allegations public.
At the end of the 20-minute conversation, Pellicano promises to call the man, purported to be attorney Barry K. Rothman, the next day. Police and child services officials were notified of the child-abuse claims the afternoon of Aug. 17, the day of the phone conversation.
Weitzman and Pellicano stand by their claims that the father demanded a $ 20 million multiproject development deal. However, the tape discusses only three projects and an offer by Pellicano to give the father $ 350,000.
“I don’t have to state the obvious and I’m not prepared to do so in this conversation,” said the man purported to be Rothman, who cited concerns that whatever he says could end up as evidence in court.
At no point does the man say what “the obvious” is. Calls to Rothman seeking comment weren’t returned.
The other man on the tape does not demand money in exchange for the father’s silence.
Pellicano asks, “I am correct in assuming your client has rejected the deal?” The other man says, “Yeah, that’s correct … Your offer regarding a development deal for one project only is not acceptable.”
“So your people are going forward with the rest of things you were talking about?” Pellicano asks, which upsets the other man. “You people have gone forward before we’ve gone forward,” he retorts.
A spokesperson for Fox declined comment.