Nearly two years after the sudden death of Michael Jackson, his mother told TODAY she’s still stung by the public perception of her son as a child molester, which gained steam through a 1993 accusation and a sensational 2005 criminal trial.
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“As far as Michael being a child molester, that’s the biggest lie that’s ever been told,” Jackson told Matt Lauer in an exclusive prerecorded interview that aired on TODAY Wednesday.
Mrs. Jackson, who turned 81 Wednesday, made her feelings about the allegations clear to Lauer in a rare one-on-one talk. She also addressed the current involuntary manslaughter case against Jackson’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray.
‘Why did you do that?’
The pop superstar, who died June 25, 2009, at age 50, was acquitted in 2005 of 10 charges centering on child molestation after a very public 14-week trial. But his mother told Lauer her son’s problems began with the 1993 case, when a 12-year-boy alleged Jackson had molested him. Criminal prosecution was stymied after the boy and his family refused to testify against Jackson, and Jackson made a payment believed to be $15 million to the family.
Katherine Jackson said she still rues the day her son settled with the family.
“His lawyers told him that he should just pay the money, because Michael was out on tour at that time, and they thought that just paying the money and (shutting) the people up would be the right thing to do,” she said.
“As soon as I heard it, I called him and I said, ‘Why did you do that? It makes you look guilty.’ And he said, ‘Well, the lawyers told me to do it.’ He said, ‘I didn’t want to do it either, Mother; I wanted to fight it, because I know it wasn’t the truth. But they wanted me to do that.’ ”Video: Molestation claims ‘biggest lie,’ Jackson mom says (on this page)
Mrs. Jackson said the boy at the center of the 1993 case recanted after Michael’s death. “He confessed that Michael never touched him, and it was a big lie, and his father just wanted to be rich. And he said, ‘I’m so sorry I didn’t get to tell [Michael] this before he died.’ ”
Today Mrs. Jackson is busy in her role as legal guardian of her son’s children, Prince, Paris and Blanket. But she’s also kept a watchful eye on the court case against Dr. Murray, attending the preliminary hearings in the manslaughter case. Murray is charged with administering the surgical anesthetics propofol and lorazepam believed to have caused Jackson’s death.Slideshow: Michael Jackson’s life and career (on this page)
Mrs. Jackson told Lauer that although sitting in court was painful, “I just felt that I had to be there. I was there every day when his last  trial was, and I wouldn’t feel right if I wasn’t there.” She said she found it “very difficult listening to [Murray] lying, and very difficult just looking at him, knowing that he was there to see after my son, and he died under his care. I thought he was very negligent, and that makes me feel really bad. I can’t stand to look at him.”
Four years ‘not enough’
Murray’s trial, originally set to begin next week, has been delayed until September. If convicted, he faces up to four years in jail. But Jackson told Lauer she doesn’t believe that punishment would fit the alleged crime.
“I think if someone is under a doctor’s care, and they die with him seeing over him, I think that four years is not enough,” she said. “It’s not enough for anyone. I think they should pay just like they’ve taken the life from my son. I think he should pay for it.”
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Mrs. Jackson told Lauer that Michael’s three children are “doing fine,” and that they aren’t kept up to date on the Murray case. “They’re off doing the things that children should do,” she said. “I don’t talk about [that] with them. They’re young and I want them to be happy, and that would make them very sad.”
Mrs. Jackson described Michael’s oldest child, 14-year-old son Prince, as a typical American teenager. “It’s the age they start — I hate to say — but it’s the age they start watching little girls,” she said. “It’s just puppy love.”Video: Watch full interview with Katherine Jackson (on this page)
And along with helping raise Prince and his two siblings, the 81-year-old is also embarking on a new business venture: She’s teamed with SendHerFlowers.com to launch the Katherine Jackson Flower Collection, a set of six floral arrangements she designed for the company.
“I met the person that’s doing it through a friend, and I love flowers, so I thought [it] was a very good idea,” she told Lauer. “Here I am with a flower collection. I love flowers anyway. I have them all around my yard, my house, everywhere.”
But as busy as she stays, she still misses her son, particularly the voice that enthralled millions of fans. “I just miss him for not being here,” she said. “I miss his voice. I miss his singing. Sometimes when we were around, he’d start to sing, and he’d end a song, and I’d want to ask him sometimes to sing it again. I just loved his voice.”
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