When legal route fails, detours may be needed

January 31, 1994|By MIKE ROYKO

It was a few years ago, and I don't remember the names or the specifics. But there was this man in the Deep South who had many of that region's values.

His young son had been sexually molested. The cops were bringing the suspected molester back to the state to stand trial.

The father did some drinking and brooding. Then he drove to the airport and waited unnoticed at a phone bank. When the cops and the suspected molester walked by, the father turned, aimed his gun and put a fatal bullet through the man's head.

Then there was the woman in California. Her son had been sexually molested, allegedly by someone she knew and trusted.

The man was arrested and was put on trial. But the woman didn't trust the justice system. So she waited in the courtroom, and when the opportunity presented itself, she shot the guy dead.

What that man in the airport and the woman in California did was legally wrong. They took the law into their hands. They became judge, jury and executioner. In this nation of laws, we don't approve of such behavior.

But we have a problem in this nation of laws. Many of our laws are screwed up. Our enforcement of the laws is erratic. Our politicians -- from the president on down -- babble about crime but do little but squander our money.

I happen to live in a city where judicial corruption is considered a local sport. Judges take cash to fix murder cases, drunken-driving deaths and just about anything else worth the price of a luxury cruise.

And I've covered enough trials to know that relying on a jury for justice is like expecting financial stability from a slot machine. Consider the Reginald Denny case in California. You crush a man's head like an egg, but say you weren't trying to kill him? A jury, dominated by a bombastic woman, bought this ridiculous defense. Somebody should have slapped that jury forewoman with a brick to the side of the head, then asked her to give it further thought.

So I couldn't help admiring that guy in the South and the woman in California for detouring the justice system and punishing a couple of scumbags who deserved it.

If someone sexually attacked a member of my family -- child or adult -- and I had an opportunity to kill that attacker, I wouldn't hesitate. Before or after, it doesn't matter. Before, it would be an act of defense. After, it would be a suitable punishment.

Who am I, someone might ask, to decide what is a suitable punishment? In personal matters, I'm in a much better position to make that decision than a jury of strangers eager to hurry a verdict so they can get home, or a bored judge or a band of legislative lawmakers preoccupied with taking graft from lobbyists.

Which leads me to what appears to be the end of the Michael Jackson molestation case.

It appears that the father of the 14-year-old boy who accused Jackson of abusing him sexually has decided to drop his lawsuit.

Jackson and the father have cut a deal. Depending on what paper or TV show-biz report you follow, Jackson will write a check for $5 million or $10 million or $20 million.

Whatever the amount, it's serious money. Even with the minimal estimate of $5 million, put that in tax-free municipal bonds and you'll have an income of about $250,000 a year.

And that should be the end of the sordid affair. The boy will not testify about the creepy things he says Jackson did to him, so there will be no trial.

As Jackson's lawyer said: "Michael can get on with his life." That's what they do in California -- get on with their lives. You dump your wife and kids, you get on with your life. You murder your parents, you get on with your life. Just about everyone in California is getting on with their lives, except those fortunate stiffs who made the obits that day.

So Jackson writes a check -- $10 million is what the more reliable media say -- and it is over. He can now get on with his life. Maybe now he will have himself dyed purple.

But what about this father? The man whose adolescent son said he was sexually used by Jackson.

The father is a dentist. But not an ordinary molar puller. He peers into the mouths of the Hollywood stars. Because choppers mean a lot to movie stars, he makes a decent buck. The word is that he has a fine house, a flashy car and the maitre d's in the better restaurants slobber a bit when he appears.

The California dream.

But it isn't enough. You drill one tooth, you've drilled them all. And the dentist wants to crash the real world of Hollywood: the movies. Which, in fact, is not the real world but is the world of make-believe and the largest collection of jerks in America.

But from the viewpoint of someone who looks into mouths all day, I can see the attraction.

To get into the movie business, you need one of three things: 1. Talent. 2. Money. 3. One hell of a body, male or female, and a willingness to share it.

So Jackson wrote the check, and he took it.

The money made up for whatever sexual crimes Jackson may have done to his son.

The Hollywood dentist made a lot of money. Jackson, who is enormously wealthy, paid a few million but got off cheap.

Good thing for Jackson it wasn't one of my kids. He'd never stop looking over his shoulder.

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