05/03/1993 at 01:00 AM EDT
TRIUMPH IN THE SPOTLIGHT IS A JACKSON family tradition. But it is more often scandal that thrusts LaToya, the brood's odd sister out, into the public eye. Now the rebel who posed nude in Playboy, married her ex-con manager and exposed family secrets in a tell-all best-seller, has sadly turned victim.
Police, summoned on April 20 to the plush two-bedroom Manhattan apartment that the singer, 36, shares with husband Jack Gordon, 54, arrested Gordon for allegedly kicking LaToya and beating her with a heavy brass dining-room chair. Treated for bruises to her face, arms, legs and back, LaToya, according to friend and New York Post writer Florence Anthony, seemed badly shaken by the violence that flared during a midnight argument. "Unfortunately," says Anthony, who visited LaToya after her hospital discharge next morning, "she was more concerned about Jack having to go to jail than anything else."
Ironically, Jackson once said that she married Gordon in 1989 to escape her father, Joseph, whom she claimed abused her from age 6. "Until meeting Mr. Gordon," she said in 1991, "I'd assumed that, with the exception of my brothers, all men were evil like my father." Joe Jackson has repeatedly denied her charges.
As for Gordon, the onetime massage parlor owner was convicted of attempting in 1978 to bribe former Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Harry Reid, now a U.S. senator. In 1985, a year after he was arrested for pandering, Gordon began managing LaToya's career. The couple's marriage, she insisted, was strictly a business arrangement. "Of course there is no romance," she once said of Gordon, who pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree assault and was released without bail after a night in jail. "Look at him. He's old enough to be my father."