Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism. Become a Member »

Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.

Members of the Santa Barbara Country Sheriff’s Department walking through Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch during the 2003 police raid. (screenshot by the author)

Yesterday, Radar Online published what appears to be a leaked version of an incomplete police report on Michael Jackson, and the document cites several contemporary art books apparently found at the singer’s home during a 2003 raid. The report references images by James Bidgood, Rineka Dijkstra, Ed Templeton, Robert Maxwell, Tom Bianchi, and well-known 19th-century images by Wilhelm von Gloeden of young men in classically inspired poses.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department had raided the pop star’s Neverland Ranch property while investigating charges of child molestation, claims that were dismissed in 2005. In a statement to Vanity Fair, the Sheriff’s Department explained that the material was not released by their department and that the files contained copies of reports by their office “interspersed with content that appears to be obtained off the Internet or through unknown sources.” All the Sheriff’s Department’s reports and the photographs, the department explained, were released “as part of the required discovery process to the prosecution and the defense.”

A portion of the Santa Barbara Country Sheriff’s Department’s police report regarding a book of art by James Bidgood. (screenshot by the author) (click to enlarge)

In the report, a number of items that feature nude or semi-nude images (particularly of adolescent and possibly underage individuals) in art books, photographs, and other documents are followed by a note that suggests that they could have been used for “grooming” young children for abuse. One such note, which is similar to many other notes scattered throughout the report’s pages, reads:

Based on my training, this type of material can be used as part of a “grooming” process by which people (those seeking to molest children) are able to lower the inhibitions of their intended victims and facilitate the molestation of said victims.

While the Sheriff’s report explicitly states that none of the material appears to be illegal, in at least one instance the investigator explains: “I was unable to determine with any accuracy if material within this book could be considered child pornography.”

Members of the Santa Barbara Country Sheriff’s Department walking through Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch during the 2003 police raid. (screenshot by the author)

On the fourth page of the report — the first page of the leaked document, which is missing the report’s first three pages — the Sheriff’s Department says it found a copy of The Fourth Sex: Adolescent Extremes  among Jackson’s possessions. The book includes work by the artists Jake and Dino Chapman, Vanessa Beecroft, Raymond Pettibon, Mike Kelley, Elizabeth Peyton, Karen Kilimnik, Charles Ray, Takashi Murakami, Larry Clark, Rineke Dijkstra, Paul McCarthy, Richard Prince, Gilbert & George, Gavin Turk, and Richard Billingham. According to the report, the art and pornographic material found on Jackson’s property displayed a mix of sexual orientations and types.

Radar Online also published a video of the 2003 police search that follows Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department officers as they walk through various rooms of the Neverland Ranch estate:

The Latest

Required Reading

This week, addressing a transphobic comedy special on Netflix, the story behind KKK hoods, cultural identity fraud, an anti-Semitic take on modern art, and more.

Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

2 replies on “Leaked Police Report Cites Michael Jackson’s Art Books as Possible “Grooming” Tools”

Comments are closed.