Attorney Gloria Allred, who announced amid great fanfare last week that she was representing a 13-year-old boy allegedly molested by Michael Jackson, said Friday that she is no longer on the case.
“That is correct,” Allred said. She declined to answer any questions about why she was leaving the case, saying only: “I can’t make any further comment, unfortunately.”
Allred’s abrupt departure from the case makes her the latest in a revolving series of representatives for the boy and members of his family. The boy’s father originally was represented by Barry K. Rothman. Jackson’s private investigator says Rothman was part of an attempt to extort $20 million from the entertainer.
Rothman is no longer connected to the case, and the father now is represented by Richard G. Hirsch. Neither Rothman nor Hirsch was available for comment Friday.
Private investigator Ernie Rizzo also emerged at one point claiming to represent the father, but Hirsch quickly fired off a statement saying that Rizzo did not speak for the family and was not retained by anyone connected to the case. Rizzo, who once held court for reporters in his hotel lobby, has since returned to Chicago.
While the family and its representatives remained silent about the reasons for Allred’s exit, Jackson’s attorney suggested that the family might have been scared off by Allred’s reputation for courting publicity in cases she takes on.
“I can provide no insight as to why the change was made, except to say that perhaps the people involved did not want to make this a media circus,” said Howard Weitzman, Jackson’s attorney. After a pause, he then added a second speculation: “Maybe she (Allred) didn’t believe the kid.”
Although she did not comment Friday, Allred earlier expressed her admiration for the youngster and her belief that he would be vindicated in court.
“My client wants . . . the truth to come out. He is ready, he is willing, he is able to testify,” Allred said at a news conference last week.
“Many people love and trust Michael Jackson,” she added. “Our client loved him and trusted him as well. . . . Unfortunately, that trust has been destroyed.’
Allred’s departure came at the end of a relatively quiet week in the Jackson case, which gained enormous international attention in August. Although investigators continue to probe allegations that Jackson lured the 13-year-old into fondling, masturbation and oral sex, they have declined to comment on the case beyond issuing a statement confirming that Jackson is the subject of a criminal investigation.
Los Angeles police officers seized videotapes, photographs and other materials from two homes owned by Jackson, and they have interviewed a number of people close to him, including a number of young boys. But no charges have been filed against the pop superstar, who has denied any wrongdoing.
Jackson spent the week traveling and performing in the Far East, undeterred by the migraines and dehydration that forced cancellation of several performances.
Friday night, he performed to a sold-out audience in Fukuoka, Japan. Fans displayed their support for the entertainer by cheering and brandishing signs.
“We Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” one sign read, quoting a Jackson ballad.