Thursday, April 07, 2005
The tabloid offered the Newts’ father, Ronald Newt Sr., $200,000 to say that something happened between his kids and Jackson.No matter who testifies next in Michael Jackson‘s alleged “prior acts” of sexual abuse mini-trial, the prosecution will have to deal with the fact that only one boy will show up to say he was molested many years ago by the pop star.
Now comes Robert Newt, 30, long a “Holy Grail” for The National Enquirer from its investigation into Jackson circa 1993.
Newt and his twin brother Ronald Newt Jr. (now deceased) were aspiring performers and spent two weeks as guests in the Jackson family home in Encino, Calif., around 1985. They were about 11 years old. This all occurred before Neverland was completed. Michael, Janet Jackson and LaToya Jackson were all there, as well as the Jackson parents.
Fast-forward to December 1993. The National Enquirer, desperate to get a scoop that Jackson has abused children, heard that the Newt kids once spent time with Jackson.
Newt, a San Francisco “character” and filmmaker whose past includes pimping and jail time, considered the offer.
A contract was drawn up, signed by Enquirer editor David Perel. Enquirer reporter Jim Mitteager, who is also now deceased, met with Newt and his son at the Marriott hotel in downtown San Francisco.
It seemed that all systems were go. But the Newts declined the offer at the last minute.
Ron Newt Sr., to whom $200,000 would have seemed like the world on a silver platter, wrote “No good sucker” where his signature was supposed to go. The reason: Nothing ever happened between Jackson and the Newt boys.
Indeed, no kids, no matter how much money was dangled by the tabloids, ever showed up to trade stories of Jackson malfeasance for big lumps of cash after the first scandal broke in 1993.
“Maybe there aren’t any other kids,” a current Enquirer editor conceded.
I met Bobby Newt yesterday near the office where he works as a mortgage broker in suburban Los Angeles.
Just as his dad promised me a few days earlier, he’s a good-looking kid. He’s half black and half Chinese.
Robert and his twin brother were likely very cute kids. They have the same features as other boys advertised as alleged Neverland “victims.” But all Bobby Newt remembers of his encounter with Jackson is good times.
And all he remembers about the man from The National Enquirer is that he wanted Bobby, then 18, to lie.
“He said, ‘Say he grabbed you on the butt. Say he grabbed you and touched you in any kind of way,'” Newt said. “He told us he took all these people down. Now he was going to take Michael down. That he would really destroy him. He told us he took all these other famous people down. All the major people that had scandals against them. He said, ‘We take these people down. That’s what we do.'”
Prior to Bobby’s meeting with Mitteager, Bobby’s father met with him and brought along an intermediary, San Francisco politician, businessman and fellow jailbird Charlie Walker.
Walker is infamous in San Francisco circles for being “hooked up” to anything interesting cooking on the West Coast.
“My dad said these dudes are offering this money to take Michael Jackson down. And the guy [Mitteager] said, ‘Say he touched you. All you have to do is say it. But you might have to take the stand. You might have to go on ‘Oprah’ in front of all these people. You have to be prepared for this thing. Just say it. And we’ll give you money,'” Newt said.
Two pieces of evidence confirm the Newts’ story. One is the actual contract proffered by the Enquirer and signed by Perel, who declined to comment for this story.
The contract, written as a letter, says it’s an agreement between the tabloid and the Newts for their exclusive story regarding “your relationship with and knowledge of Michael Jackson, and his sexuality, your knowledge of Michael Jackson’s sexual contact and attempts at sexual contact with Robert Newt and others.”
Mitteager expected them to sign, even though it was completely untrue and there was, in fact, no story.
He knew you were lying, I reminded Bobby Newt.
“Exactly! And he didn’t care! He was like, ‘Just say it and we’ll give you the money.’ And I was like, ‘He [Jackson] never touched me!” Newt said. “He [Mitteager] was really fishing and really digging. Think about it — most people you say it to, ‘We’ll give you this money,’ even [if it’s not true]. And they’d take it.”
Bobby Newt recalled more details of the 30-minute meeting with The National Enquirer’s reporter:
“He was trying to coach me — if I decided to take the money, what would happen. He said ‘You know, it’s going to be a huge scandal. You’ll probably have a lot of people not liking you. You’re going to be famous!’ But to me, you’d be ruined. And the truth is Michael didn’t do anything even close to trying to molest us.”
Ironically, the second piece of evidence also backs up the Newts’ story. Unbeknownst to them, they were taped by Mitteager.
I told you last week that Mitteager did more surreptitious taping than Richard Nixon. When he died, the tapes were left to Hollywood investigator Paul Barresi. His dozens of hours of tapes include a conversation between Mitteager, Ron Newt Sr. and Charlie Walker.
When I read some of the transcript back to Newt the other day, he was shocked.
“I said all that,” he observed, surprised to have his memory prodded some 12 years later.
Back in the mid-’80s, Ron Newt Sr. put his three sons together as a singing group much as Joseph Jackson did. He called them The Newtrons.
After much pushing, he got the attention of Joe Jackson, who agreed to manage the group. Joe Jackson got the Newtrons a showcase at the Roxy in West Hollywood.
Michael showed up and loved them. The result was a two-week stay for the boys at the Encino house on Hayvenhurst Ave., where they were supposed to work on their music.
“We would see Michael in passing. We didn’t see him, maybe, because he was working on an album. We saw him downstairs in the kitchen and we talked to him,” he said.
The Newtrons eventually got a record contract and recorded the Jackson 5 hit “I Want You Back” at Hayvenhurst. They also spent the night at Tito Jackson‘s house. But nothing about what Bobby Newt hears now about himself or others makes sense.
“I don’t know what to believe. He had prime time with me and my brother in the guest room for two weeks,” he said. “And he didn’t try anything.”
As a footnote to all of this: In the small world of the Los Angeles music business, Bobby Newt recently worked with choreographer and alleged Jackson “victim” Wade Robson on tracks for his first album, a potential hit compendium of original R&B ballads.
Jackson’s former maid Blanca Francia implicated Robson in the case during Monday’s testimony. Robson is not testifying for the prosecution.
“Wade is straight as they come. He’s getting married. And nothing ever happened to him, either,” Newt said.
He shakes his head, thinking about those who have made claims against Jackson.
“You have to look at these people, go back and see when their relationship with Michael fractured. The calls stopped coming,” he said.
And Newt should know. After the adventure in 1985, the Newts never saw Jackson again. It didn’t bother them, Bobby says, as much as it might have others.
“They probably didn’t like it. And this is their way of getting back at him,” he said.