Victor Gutierrez is a freelance writer who appeared on the U.S. tabloid television show “Hard Copy” to claim that there was a videotape of Michael Jackson molesting a boy. Some background on his story can be found in the book Jackson Family Values, by Jermaine Jackson’s ex-common-law wife, Margaret Maldonado. She writes that in early 1995,
” I received a telephone call from a writer named Ruth Robinson. I had known Ruth for quite a while and respected her integrity. It made what she had to tell me all the more difficult to hear. “I wanted to warn you, Margaret,” she said. “There’s a story going around that there is a videotape of Michael molesting one of your sons, and that you have the tape.”If anyone else had said those words, I would have hung up the phone. Given the long relationship I had with Ruth, however, I gave her the courtesy of a response. I told her that it wasn’t true, of course, and that I wanted the story stopped in its tracks.She had been in contact with someone who worked at the National Enquirer who had alerted her that a story was being written for that paper. Ruth cross-connected me with the woman, and I vehemently denied the story. Moreover, I told her that if the story ran, I would own the National Enquirer before the lawsuits I brought were finished. To its credit, the National Enquirer never ran the piece.”Hard Copy,” however, decided it would. “Hard Copy” correspondent Diane Dimond had reported that authorities were reopening the child molestation case against Michael. She had also made the allegations on L.A. radio station KABC-AM on a morning talk show hosted by Roger Barkley and Ken Minyard.Dimond’s claims were based on the word of a freelance writer named Victor Gutierrez. The story was an outrageous lie. Not one part of it was true. I’d never met the man. There was no tape. Michael never paid me for my silence. He had never molested Jeremy. Period.”
After the “Hard Copy” story aired, the LAPD told the Los Angeles Times that they had seen no such videotape, they were not looking for it, and there was no renewed investigation into molestation allegations. Michael Jackson subsequently filed a $100 million slander lawsuit against Gutierrez, “Hard Copy”, and KABC-AM for perpetuating the story. None of these parties ever produced the videotape or any evidence it existed. Because Jackson’s lawyers could find no sign of the videotape or the origin of the tale, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Reginald Dunn ruled that Gutierrez was no longer protected by the California Shield Law, and ordered him to name his source. Gutierrez did not, instead claiming that a host of people, including Elizabeth Taylor and Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, could verify the existence of the videotape (none of these people in fact supported him). Consequently, on October 15, 1996, Judge Dunn ruled that Gutierrez’s story was false and that he had acted with malice and was therefore liable for presumed and punitive damages (the amount of which would be determined at a later date.) The writer then fled to Mexico.
In October 1997, a legal action to assess the amount of “presumed and punitive damages” to be paid to Michael Jackson by Victor Gutierrez was delayed due to Gutierrez filing for bankruptcy. Mr. Jackson’s lawyers stated that the assessment of such damages would be determined and that Gutierrez would not be protected indefinitely by his action.
On April 9, 1998 Michael Jackson won the slander suit against free-lance writer Victor Gutierrez. A Los Angeles jury ordered Victor Gutierrez to pay Michael Jackson $2.7 million for failing to prove the existence of a videotape that allegedly showed Michael in an inappropriate conduct with a young boy.
“We talked to the jurors afterwards,” Michael’s lawyer Mr. Modabber said. “They said they wanted to send a message that they were tired of the tabloids telling malicious stories about celebrities for money. They said they hope this will send a message not to do this.”