Leaving aside the self-anointed moral pundits who pronounced him guilty from the get-go, was anyone really shocked that Michael Jackson was acquitted on 10 counts of child molestation?Anyone who has followed the recent parade of high-profile trials — from O.J. Simpson to Kobe Bryant to Robert Blake — probably wasn’t. Forget guilt or innocence. Most celebrities can afford the best lawyers as well as the best spin doctors. When it comes to the rich and famous, the burden of proof is getting higher, and naïve or overzealous prosecutors are rarely up to the task. In the pop star’s case, there was a worldwide contingent of fans who steadfastly refused to believe the worst of their icon. And jurors must have been asking themselves why the parents of these boys who visited Neverland weren’t being held to account as much as they pondered what really went on in Jackson’s bedroom. But we move on. And quickly. It seems Jackson’s minders hadn’t spent their time obsessing about what might happen to him in a prison cell. They were already planning to pitch the story of his ordeal to the networks, and even to sue journalist Martin Bashir, whose documentary triggered this latest round of accusations. And Jackson himself? It’s a fascinating question as to whether he can both effect another makeover and stage a comeback — we know he needs the dough. But judging from his spectral appearance and benumbed demeanor during the trial, not to mention his well-established reclusiveness and bizarre antics, he’ll need mucho help from his friends in achieving either.
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