LEAST WE FORGET THE HISTORY
The dysfunctional Jackson family
Jordy Chandler's secret diary of sex abuse
I Sold My Soul To Rock'n'Roll & Mind Control
Among the myriad tributes to Michael Jackson's talent as a pop artist, one terrible, dark stain still lingers over his memory - the allegations that he was rather too close to too many children. To be blunt, that he might have been a paedophile.
Those accusations have swirled around the singer for decades and they have never, entirely, been dispelled. Indeed, many believe it was the repeated allegations of child molesting that led him to abuse painkillers and other drugs, and saw him retreat into his own bizarre, secluded world.
So let us take a careful look at the man who called his ranch Neverland in homage to the British author of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie - a man who was himself accused of being rather too close to the five sons of his friend Arthur Llewelyn-Davies.
It was these children who Barrie fictionalised as the 'Lost Boys' living in Neverland, and to whom he gave a home after their parents died.
Was Jackson as benevolent of spirit as the creator of Peter Pan - or was there a more sinister aspect to his appetite for looking after young children? To discover the truth, we need to look back through Jackson's past, which was not without its shadows.
Early in 1993, the police in Los Angeles revealed they were investigating allegations of child abuse made against Jackson by the father of a 13-year-old boy named Jordan Chandler. The U.S. press reported that Chandler's father, a dentist, alleged the singer seduced the child and performed sex acts with him.
Detectives interviewed Chandler and one or two other young people who'd also visited Jackson's Neverland ranch in Santa Barbara, including the then 12-year-old actor Macaulay Culkin, star of the Home Alone films.
Jackson's 'security adviser', private detective Anthony Pellicano, insisted that the allegation was part of an £18million extortion plot, and Jackson firmly denied the accusations.
But shortly after those claims were made Jackson gave a 90-minute television interview to Oprah Winfrey in which he revealed his abuse at the hands of his father, and explained that he felt he'd missed out on much of his childhood years, often crying from loneliness.
Lonely he might have been, but Jordan Chandler told his father that Jackson had touched his penis and then later told a psychiatrist and the police that he and Jackson had engaged in masturbation and oral sex. Chandler even gave a detailed description of the singer's genitals.
What is not in doubt is that Jackson began taking painkillers to cope with the stress of the child abuse allegations.
Indeed, by the autumn of 1993 he was said to have become addicted to the drugs.
Yet in spite of Jordan Chandler's testimony, Jackson escaped the law. The multi-millionaire pop star bought off his accusers - Chandler and his father settled a civil case in 1994, which reportedly paid Jordie £14million. Jackson was never charged with any offence.
But still the speculation about his predeliction for children continued and Jackson later admitted: 'I have slept in a bed with many children.'
But he insisted 'When you say "bed", you're thinking sexual. It's not sexual, we're going to sleep. I tuck them in . . . it's very charming, it's very sweet.'
Three years after the case, the singer's relationship with Jordie was described in detail in a book by journalist Victor M. Gutierrez. It was said to be based on a diary Chandler kept at the time and included details of the alleged sexual encounters between the pair.
Then, in 1996 Chandler's father launched another lawsuit against Jackson, claiming £38.5million from the singer on the grounds that Jackson had breached an agreement never to discuss the case. Three years later, a court threw out the Chandler lawsuit.
However, Jackson himself fanned gossip when he was arrested and charged with child abuse in November 2003 after British journalist Martin Bashir, who famously interviewed Princess Diana in 1995, made a documentary in which Jackson admitted sharing his bed with children.
The King of Pop was shown discussing sleeping arrangements with a boy called Gavin Arvizo, who would later accuse him of sexual abuse.
Shortly after the documentary was broadcast, Jackson was charged with seven counts of child sexual abuse and two of administering an intoxicating agent in order to commit a crime. All the charges related to Arvizo, who was under 14 at the time of the alleged crime.
Jackson denied the allegations, saying that the sleepovers were not sexual in nature, while his friend, Elizabeth Taylor defended him by saying she had been there when they 'were in the bed, watching TV. There was nothing abnormal about it. There was no touchy-feely going on. We laughed like children and we watched a lot of Walt Disney. There was nothing odd about it'.
Dubbed the trial of the century, Jackson's court case lasted four months and ended in June 2005 when he was cleared of all charges.
The world will never know for certain whether the allegations about Jackson's sexual relations with children were true, but what is not in doubt is that they remain the dark cloud that will forever hang over his legacy.