I have been left devastated
As abuse trial nears end, Jackson's dad tells his story
BY ADAM NICHOLS
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
As the Michael Jackson trial draws to a close, the superstar's father tells for the first time how the accusations have devastated his family.
In an emotional and sometimes moving interview, Joe Jackson revealed the Prince of Pop has stopped eating and barely sleeps.
And the notoriously insensitive dad said he was relieved he couldn't cry as he watched the trial's effect on his son.
"It's the worst experience I've ever had," he told international journalist Daphne Barak.
"I look around and everybody else is crying. I'm wide-eyed and wondering, 'How come I can't cry?'
"If I started crying, I would probably never stop."
The Gloved One has been left physically wasted by accusations that he molested a 13-year-old boy in 2003, gave him wine and conspired to hold his family captive, said his dad.
"[If] you've got a problem like he has, it bothers you when you get ready to eat," he said. "He probably doesn't eat enough and doesn't get enough sleep.
"I'm trying to tell him to stay strong and eat so he can get through this, yet he has lost a lot of weight. Even his fans are saying, 'Michael should eat.' They want him to eat. I want him to eat, too.
"We always mention to him about it, but he says, 'I'm going to eat. I'll eat some.' But he doesn't eat enough. He takes a couple of bites.
"He doesn't sleep a bit, and that bothers me. In his situation, he should be getting plenty of rest and eating plenty of wholesome food to keep him strong. It's very important."
"He's taking it pretty hard, because a lot of stones have been hurled at him," said his father.
Closing arguments in the 13-week trial are set to start this week.
"I'm always telling him, 'Michael, stick with this, you be strong and you'll get through it.'
"Every day is difficult. To sit up there all that time and listen to all that stuff that you know is not true. Sometimes I have to hold [Jackson's mother Katharine] to keep her from jumping up and yelling."
He said Michael Jackson, who did not testify in the trial, wanted to take the stand - but was advised not to by others.
"Michael wants to get up there on the stand," said his dad. "He said, 'I can handle it, because I didn't do anything and they're trying to do this to me.' So he wants to defend himself."
In fact, his father blames many of Jackson's problems on the people who surround him.
"My biggest fear is trying to keep honest people around me," he said. "That's been Michael's problem.
"I'm talking about the 'handlers,' the people that are involved with this situation. They weren't too loyal to him like they were supposed to be. They didn't take care of him like they were supposed to."
He places most of the blame on interviewer Martin Bashir, whose documentary, "Living With Michael Jackson," brought attention to his friendships with young boys.
"We probably wouldn't be here if he hadn't done that Bashir documentary," he said.
"Michael didn't ever want to give interviews to nobody. As soon as he gave one to Bashir, he got into trouble. And Bashir knows it wasn't fair. He knows what he did.
"I knew what Bashir was about. He'll try anything to make money. That's money for him, they don't care who they hurt.
"I know what happened, and I know it didn't happen like that. I'm with him all the time, that's my son. He wasn't raised that way. It's just not right."
He said the trial may frighten the superstar out of future friendships with children.
"He's not against the kids," said his dad. "He's helped so many kids all over the world.
"But what he's afraid of, somebody may try something, try to make money. Plan something. He knows that all kids are pure in heart. They don't know anything about any dirty stuff, that comes from the grownups."
Michael Jackson has described his father as an emotionless bully who beat him and forced him and his brothers to work long hours on singing and dance routines. But Joe Jackson said the trial had brought father and son closer together.
"I've had so many people come up to me and say, 'I wish I had a father who had made me do well in music and in some kind of profession,'" he said.
"They said I didn't do anything wrong by working with them very hard to achieve the goals that they have achieved.
"I probably gave him a hug once in a while, but not every day like some people do. Because I had to work. I was working two jobs. I'm not sorry that I worked with them so closely, because they're known all over the world.
"Blood is thicker than water. Michael has Katharine's and my blood running through his veins. It means that I'm by him. I'm for him.
"He's going through a lot that he shouldn't have to go through, because they're trying to accuse him of something he didn't do. I will stick up for him all day long, because he is not that way.
"I'd tell him, 'Michael, I'm there for you 100%, and I always had a good feeling and believed in you. I love you, and all these things that have been talked about me. Hey, people are going to talk. I still love you.'"
Joe Jackson talked about high points in the trial - but also of lows, including the time his son appeared in court looking bedraggled and dressed in pajamas.
The judge had ordered him to attend, despite his claims he'd been hospitalized due to illness.
"We didn't care," he said. "We'd go in there barefoot in that courthouse. We're Jacksons. We don't care what people say. We had to be there."
But he said he felt the trial had largely been favorable to his son.
"Most of the days have been good," he said. "All we're looking for is the jury to be fair."
And he said his son was optimistic about his chances of acquittal, even preparing for a return to the pop charts.
"I'm thinking he did write some things and put down something," he said. "I think he shouldn't release something as soon as court is over with because everybody's waiting on something."
Kids know nothing about ordeal
Michael Jackson's kids know nothing about the accusations that could send him to prison, the star's father said.
Paris, 7, and Prince Michael, 8, have been shielded from TV and news coverage of one of the most high-profile trials ever.
"They don't know what's going on," Joe Jackson said.
"They don't need to be knowing all of that stuff. We don't want to interrupt their day with being worried about all of that stuff.
"There's no TV to be watching. If they want to watch television, they've got videos.
"These are kids. You have to treat them as kids," he told international journalist Daphne Barak.
Even though their father lost weight because of the stress of the 13-week trial, the children's lives continue as normal, Joe Jackson said.
"During the day, the nanny's there with them," he said.
"We came back from the courthouse, I had to go and walk with them that evening. I was watching them out there, playing around, walking and carrying on. They were having a good time."
And, despite uncertainty about his future, the pop star behaves as normal with his children.
"He's always got energy enough for those kids, and that's fantastic," said Jackson.
"The one thing I noticed, when we leave for the courthouse, I guess it's about 7:30 a.m., they'll be up, waving out the window."
"I just think they know we leave every morning and they see us when we come back. But, actually, they don't know."
Originally published on May 31, 2005
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