Police Raid Home of Jacko Ex-Colleague
Santa Barbara authorities behind the Michael Jackson child-molestation case have raided the home of a producer of gay pornography who's said to be a close business associate of Jackson's, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Seized at the home of F. Mark Schaffel -- a Jackson adviser who reportedly produced and sold to FOX TV in February 2003 footage of Jackson holding hands with a boy at Neverland Ranch -- were computers and other items, said the Times. The raid took place on Saturday, according to the paper, which said that Schaffel has been under FBI investigation since November for alleged involvement in child pornography in Budapest.
"Mr. Schaffel has nothing to do with child porn," his lawyer, Tom Byrne, tells the Times. "I don't know anything about any investigation by the FBI or the Santa Barbara police." The Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department, as well as representatives for Jackson, declined comment.
Schaffel's association with Jackson first surfaced publicly in September 2002 after the Times reported that he had produced Jackson's charity single, "What More Can I Give." The record was not released once it was learned by Jackson's advisers that Schaffel had produced and directed dozens of gay pornography videos. Ultimately, Jackson's lawyers fired Schaffel.
Meanwhile, the Jackson family is doing damage control after a scandalous upcoming Vanity Fair article was made public last week listing a series of shocking allegations about Jackson, including claims that he served boys wine disguised in Coke cans and called it "Jesus juice."
Jackson family friend Firpo Carr told Saturday's "Today" show that Jackson's parents are outraged by the article. Earlier in the week, Vanity Fair reporter Maureen Orth said she stands by her story, and Vanity Fair also released a statement backing her.
"We find it curious that this article appears when Michael's legal team cannot respond to this yellow journalism because of a gag order," Carr said Friday outside the Jackson family home, according to the Associated Press.
Jackson pleaded not guilty earlier this month to seven counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 and two counts of giving the child an "intoxicating agent," reportedly wine.
Carr told "Today" that none of Orth's allegations in the article is true, "to the best of my knowledge."