Was there really a plan to smuggle Michael Jackson out of the country if he got convicted on molestation charges? Is that legal? Do all stars have secret escape plans?
—Mysterioso, via the inbox
Depends on whom you ask! Jermaine Jackson of the Jackson clan recently admitted that he would have smuggled his brother Michael Jackson to Bahrain if the courts convicted the pop king of child molestation. His rep later said, essentially, hee hee, just an exaggeration, nothing to see here. Oh, Jermaine. What a card.
But do stars really have such plans? Here's what I found out:
In the case of M.J, we speak specifically of the infamous child molestation trial of 2005, in which Michael was acquitted of all charges. In an interview this month, brother Jermaine insisted that there was a plot to smuggle the singer out of the States.
He told the Times newspaper in the UK:
"If they were going to sit and crucify my brother for something that he didn't do, America deserves us not to come back here. At the end of the day, this is supposed to be the land of the brave, home of the free, democracy, freedom of speech."
Like I said, his rep later came along and denied that, insisting that M.J. would have been slapping in handcuffs forthwith.
But you asked if the plot was illegal.
I assume you're wondering whether authorities could arrest Jermaine now for an admitted role in this long-aborted caper. No. The trial was years ago, M.J. was acquitted, statutes of limitation pass. Even if cops could nail Jermaine today, they'd have a hard time making charges stick.
"If someone like Michael has just gotten convicted, and he's still out on bail, then you'd have to prove that Jermaine was aware that Michael wasn't able, by law, to leave the country," defense attorney Peter Berlin tells me.
In other words, if Jermaine never knew the specific court instructions in M.J.'s case—that, say, hiding Jacko under a tray table on a private jet to Bahrain is a big no-no—nobody could do much. Really.
As for your other question? Do other stars have secret escape plans?
Most celebrity entourages do not cook up shady plots to whisk away their benevolent masters to wealthy Arab nations, or any other nation.
For one, Berlin notes, when people get in trouble with the law, courts often confiscate passports in advance of a trial. See? Smuggling smothered.
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