Family, Fame And Fans

<B><I>48 Hours</B></I> Reports On Michael Jackson Case

For 15 weeks, the Jackson family stood united. Jackson's parents, Katherine and Joe, were constantly at their son's side during his lengthy child molestation trial.

Shortly before deliberations began, Joe Jackson shared his inner-most thoughts and fears with international interviewer Daphne Barak.

Joe Jackson saw the case drain the life out of his son. The pop star, one of music's legendary icons, had suffered dramatic weight loss during the course of the trial.

"I don't know how much weight did he lose," said Joe Jackson. "But he lost too much. A father and mother know when their son has lost too much weight."

Twice last week, Jackson was rushed to the hospital, suffering from back pain. As his parents waited for the verdict, they feared their son could not face what his future held.

Joe Jackson said he was concerned about his son's state of mind, and he didn't want to leave him alone. "He shouldn't be at a time like this," said Joe Jackson. "This is a special time for me to be around as much as I can. He needs his family and his friends and his fans."

Joe Jackson says the stress from the trial was so great that three weeks ago, he feared that his son would harm himself. Joe Jackson would not go into detail except to say he ordered Neverland security guards on suicide watch: "I did tell security to make sure you stay and watch him pretty closely."

Joe Jackson steadfastly stands by his son, and he blames all of his son's legal woes on Martin Bashir, the British reporter who did the widely publicized and controversial documentary about the pop star

"If he hadn't done that interview with Bashir, he wouldn't be there now," said Joe Jackson. "That was the first time he ever did an interview like that so he was afraid of something like that all along. And it happened. It's all about the money."

Jackson can now rebuild his family life with his three children. "They're really nice kids," says Joe Jackson. "Michael has really raised, is really raising them properly and right."

Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe, whose testimony at the trial may have helped win Jackson an acquittal, may also be allowed to see her children for the first time in years.

But attorney and child advocate Gloria Allred says despite today's verdict, Jackson's children are still at risk of serious harm if they continue to live with him: "The children should immediately be removed from his care and custody, because the acts that were alleged in the criminal case, for the most part, took place in Neverland. That's where they've been living. That's their home."

But that may soon change. Joe Jackson says his son is seriously considering leaving the United States forever

"I hope he goes anyplace he feels he has peace and being treated fairly," said Joe Jackson. "It is his privilege to do that. And I mean any part of the world."