An honest look at Michael Jackson: Good, bad and ugly

Gary Carter | 6/20/2013, 12:43 p.m.

On the other hand, who can forget the images of Michael dangling his infant child off a balcony in Europe, and how he made his kids wear masks, veils, towels and hoods with him in public? When he died--reportedly due to an overdose of pain-killing drugs that led to cardiac arrest--he carried an emaciated 112 pounds on his anorexic-like frame and was virtually bald. Autopsy revealed his hips, thighs and shoulders riddled with needle marks and scars, and his stomach completely empty except for partially dissolved pills.

Along the way, Michael admitted to sleeping with little boys and paid $20 million to 13-year-old Jordan Chandler in 1993 to buy his silence regarding allegations of sexual molestation. The following year, he paid $2 million to another boy for the same purpose.

In 2005, he pleaded not guilty to a 10-count criminal indictment and, after a highly publicized 15-week trial, was acquitted by a jury in Santa Maria, Calif., for child sexual abuse of 12-year-old cancer patient Gavin Arvizo. Ironically, the married name of the boy's mother was Janet Jackson.

The surreal trial featured 140 witnesses--50 for the defense. A lowlight was a 64-minute police video tape played in court, in which his accuser described Michael's sexual abuse, which he said included masturbating him. Perhaps American jurisprudence should adopt the precepts of Scottish courts, where, when a defendant is acquitted at trial, it is called "not proven" instead of "not guilty."

Finally, Michael longed to be Peter Pan and to that end, built his magical child-themed Neverland ranch. His well-documented personal peccadilloes and major missteps aside, his talent and showmanship made him an entertainment giant--a man whose musical gifts and performing persona were without peer.

Over the years, whenever I'd think of Michael, I'd hum some of his "Never Can Say Goodbye," to wit: "Even though the pain and heartaches seem to follow me wherever I go. Though I'm trying hard to hide my feelings, they always seem to show." Truly, we never thought we'd say goodbye to Michael, the "King of Pop." May he rest in peace.