The Michael Jackson stories never end. Year after year, the pop star finds ways to get attention and, like any child knows, if you canít get attention being good you can always get it being bad. At first, it was his talent that made him the darling of the world. Then, personal discontent drove the entertainer to more bizarre behavior and modes of dress. His love affair with cosmetic surgery, his anxieties about growing up -- let alone growing old -- his uneasy relationship with the press, all kept him in the public eye when interest in his music waned. However, his obsession with children -- young boys in particular -- may turn out to be the singerís ultimate downfall.
From the first page, the reader is aware that Hughes is a fan of Jackson and that she believes he is innocent of all charges. She makes no bones about her bias against the accusers, and her ill-will toward her ex-employer attorney Barry Rothman, who represented the father of the boy in question, oozes from each page. Angry and self-righteous, Hughesí backs up her opinions with references to her status as a legal secretary and her experience working in the Rothman office. Do not pick up this book expecting a balanced presentation.
Written about a decidedly unpleasant topic, Redemption is a decidedly unpleasant book. Hughesí revelations about Barry Rothman make him seem greedy, rude, immoral and unethical. Her opinion of Dr. Chandler, the boyís father, is equally low. Her belief that the two of them cooked up false charges to shake down Jackson seems to be based on office politics, rumor and suspicion. In the end, a fair-minded reader is left with the impression that this lady is telling the truth as she knows it, but that her personal venom is skewing her interpretation of the events she describes. This leaves the reader unsure what to believe.
Hughes says sheís never met Michael Jackson and that she has no personal knowledge of what he might or might not have done to the young Chandler boy. She paints the rock star with reverential tones as a humanitarian and great talent that gives joy to the world. Minimizing the many aspects of Jacksonís behavior that point to pedophilia, Hughes revels in the singerís reported godliness and rails against a media that dares cover the accusations against him.
She accuses prosecutors of vigorously pursuing this case as though there was something wrong with that. She is convinced that the Jackson cases are about blackmail. The one question she doesnít ask is: Why does Jackson repeatedly put himself in a position that would allow anyone to accuse him? She also doesnít ask why all the accusations are the SAME accusations.
In the end, Hughes doesnít know whether Michael Jackson took advantage of his young friend or not. Neither does the reader. It does seem that there are legions willing to take advantage of Jacksonís weaknesses. Itís clear that money flows from the superstar to children all over the world -- sometimes itís out of kindness, sometimes out of friendship, sometimes out of the need to silence them. Itís also clear that there are those who are willing to believe him capable of almost anything. There are also those who choose to believe in Jacksonís stance of holy innocence. There are even more who seem willing to forgive him just about any transgression. The rest of us are waiting for a trial before deciding whether the man is a saint or sinner. In the meantime, God help the children caught up in these messes.