Years before Michael Jackson allegedly abused Wade Robson and James Safechuck, he targeted another boy in a phone call that made headlines around the world.
Michael Jackson allegedly masturbated during a phone call with a 13-year-old boy in 1979, an incident detectives believe was probably one of his first instances of inappropriate behaviour with an underage person.
It’s just one of several damning allegations that has resurfaced as the late singer faces renewed claims he sexually molested young boys in documentary Leaving Neverland.
Details of British-born Terry George’s 1979 alleged encounter first surfaced in 1993 as Jackson faced a civil suit claiming he sexually abused Jordan Chandler.
Speaking to documentary maker Louis Theroux in 2003, Mr George recalled how he met Jackson after going to his Leeds hotel room in the hopes of getting an interview with the Bad singer.
“I’d gone along and knocked on the door of the hotel room and Michael answered the door,” he told Theroux.
“There was no security around, no one stopping me really. I just asked if I could do an interview with him and he was quite taken aback by that.
“He invited me into his room, he was there with his brother, Randy Jackson, and I did an interview with both of them.”
Afterwards Mr George said he and the “easy going” Jackson swapped numbers and the 21-year-old singer began phoning the teenager on a regular basis.
According to Mr George, Jackson would phone him two or three times a week late at night and would “relax” if the teenage said his parents weren’t home at the time.
But a few months into their relationship Mr George alleged things turned sinister, with the singer asking him about masturbation.
“He spoke about masturbation. About him masturbating. Did I masturbate?” Mr George told US TV network ABC in a 2005 interview.
“I never saw it coming, it wasn’t something I expected, it just came out of the blue really. He said, ‘Would you believe that I’m doing it now?’ and let me hear him on the telephone, I could hear him … I did feel uncomfortable, I can remember feeling uncomfortable, I felt awkward.
“I thought that I didn’t react as he wanted me to react and I thought that perhaps he would never call me again … in hindsight looking back at it now I know that type of conversation probably should never of happened.”
After that phone call with Jackson, Mr George said his contact with the pop star ceased and the British press caught wind of story in 1993 after a friend blabbed.
Lurid tabloid headlines described Mr George’s alleged call with Jackson as “phone sex,” rather than a non-consensual act with an underage boy.
“Parts of it are true. The majority of it is true. It was a bit sensationalised,” Mr George said in 2003, revealing he was reluctant to discuss the incident.
Reports of Mr George’s phone call also caught the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Files released in 2009 following Jackson’s death revealing London agents sent the Los Angeles office details of the alleged incident in 1993 but “no further action” was taken.
Speaking to The Mirror following Jackson’s death, Mr George said he had been contacted by US detectives about his contact with Jackson as they investigated allegations the singer had molested Jordan.
“The police told me that they felt Michael’s behaviour started with his friendship with me,” Mr George said.
“Although I knew what he did was wrong, I believed him to be a very confused person rather than a paedophile.”
Ultimately police decided not to file criminal charges against Jackson over Jordan’s claims and the singer reached a rumoured $20 million settlement with the Chandler family.
Mr George also said he had forgiven the pop singer for the phone call shortly before the singer’s death.
“He phoned me out of the blue and we both made our peace about what had happened in the past. I’ve forgiven him for what happened,” Mr George told The Mirror.
“He told me he had been under a lot of pressure recently. I think he was a very confused man who never grew up and lived a tormented life … He said that people were forced to say things that they later regret. But he insisted his love for children was entirely innocent.”