Monday, August 29, 2005

The Mother of the Young Accuser -- My Thoughts

I think this might be the right time for me to blog about the mother of the young accuser in the Michael Jackson case. I’ve known the family since the boy was nine. He does have an actual name but publicly, he’s “The Young Accuser,” so for the purposes of this blog, I will capitalize it and acronym it, which makes him TYA, or for short, YA. And his mother…? Let’s make her MYA, although, for fun, her kids are now calling her Jane Doe.

After enduring 16 years of spousal abuse, her child’s catastrophic illness, the threats, coercion and strong arm tactics of Team Jackson and the public scrutiny of having her character destroyed while her son bravely confronts the humiliation of telling the truth to a jury who didn’t believe him, TYA is now being charged with welfare fraud, a crime for which she faces up to six years of prison time. There is a lot I don’t know about this. There are a few things I do know and then there are my opinions which are endless.

What I don’t know: What constitutes Welfare Fraud? Did MYA fill out the forms to the best of her ability? Was she confused by the forms? Did she, with malice and intent defraud the welfare system?

What I do know: MYA is a good, kind, loving woman. She is an excellent mother. She has raised three of the most spectacular children I have ever known. Her kids adore her, and she them. They form a tight unit that has been through Hell and back together. She has always wanted what’s best for her children. She is working very hard at becoming a better person. And I can’t state this firmly enough… she is not the conniving grifter portrayed by Thomas Mesereau.

What I believe: She made mistakes. She was under a tremendous amount of pressure when she filled out those forms. She had just extricated herself and her children from a horrific situation involving 17 years of terror at the hands of a physically and emotionally abusive husband and father. She was attempting this escape with no child support payments, while her son was battling Cancer and while all four of them were living in constant fear of her husband’s violent visits. I don’t think she was thinking at all. I think when you’ve been that abused for that long, you just react.

Here’s another opinion. I find it very darkly ironic that this woman who was willing, with her son, to come forward and confront (in my view) a serial child molester is now herself facing prison time after watching the pedophile walk free.

Is it more than ironic? Is it more than a coincidence? Probably. Team Jackson’s defense was built around attacking the credibility of the mother and they spent limitless funds digging up every scrap of paper that was ever printed concerning this woman. Now her mistakes face the light of day while Michael Jackson hides within the folds of a small Arab nation doing God knows what to God knows what poor child.

Should MYA apologize to the State and make restitution? She should and she intends to. Meanwhile, she has turned down every cent offered to her in whatever form, be it from Michael or from the media or from the filing of a civil case.

She is a pregnant mother of three teenagers, and a one-year-old baby. Her mother is very ill and her husband just shipped to Iraq for 14 months. It sounds like a sob story but it’s all true. Maybe I’m far too close to this but I desperately want this family to find peace, learn who they are when it’s quiet and they can think instead of worry, and move forward with their lives.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Girls' Night and Raising Comedians

Sunday night my friends Deb and Fini came over. We ate Terra Chips, pizza and drank rum and coke. We talked about men, politics, traffic tickets, traffic accidents, men, comedy, religion, men and then Deb reached for the magic eight ball. We often reach for the magic eight ball. Please don't blame the rum and coke. We are usually sober when we reach for the magic eight ball. It's very ritualistic. The answer doesn't matter as much as the way in which you phrase the question because that is what reveals what the soul desires. If you're wondering what questions we posed to the magic eight ball, "ask again later."
Tonight I had dinner with Geoff Wurm and his parents, Danny and Shan. Geoff is 15 and he's grown about three inches this summer. We've known each other since Geoff was 10 and he walked into my comedy class at the West Valley Boys and Girls Club. Since then, Geoff's life has been tragic and beautiful and everything in between. At 12, the very painful events in Geoff's world pulled him towards the very wonderful parents who needed him as much as he needed them. He was officially adopted at 13 and together Geoff, Danny and Shan are growing and learning and discovering and everything else amazing.

I hadn't seen Geoff since, I think it was May when we both performed stand-up comedy at an outdoor festival in Santa Barbara. I knew it would be dangerously traumatic. I've done outdoor events. I understand that no one will be paying attention. I didn't want Geoff, at the very vulnerable age of 15, subjecting himself to this level of rampant indifference. But he really wanted to do it. Throughout the long day, we both went up about four or five times each, on two different stages. The hot dogs were a more popular attraction. (in fairness to us, the hot dogs were kosher) Geoff was disillusioned and he promptly quit comedy.

Adult or child, Geoff Wurm is the most natural comedian I've ever known. Will he come back to comedy? Everyone tells me that he will and of course I have a preference and an opinion. But he has to make his own choices. What matters most is that he has a home where he's loved, he's happy and he's safe to make those choices. More importantly, Thursday, I'm taking him to see "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and that, I believe, is the definition of friendship.

Above, please enjoy pictures of Fini, Deb and I, Geoff's opening act at the Santa Barbara Jewish Festival, Jazz Plus and Geoff Wurm.