Ever since Michael Jackson’s death, Melissa Johnson vowed to keep what she called one of his ?beloved? charities alive.
She said she’s also trying to protect the pop star’s legacy for his family, but for the last year she’s been locked in a legal battle with Jackson’s estate.
“They’ve been hostile, vicious,? Johnson said. ?There?s no restraint with what they’re willing to do to shut us up, and bring us down.”
Her story began in 2003 when Johnson first got involved with Jackson’s Heal the World Foundation, which aimed to help poor and abused people around the globe.
“I just wanted to be in the background and help him accomplish his worthy goals,? she said. ?I really thought he could pull it off. Miracles. Pull off real change in society with his fame and influence.”
Johnson said after Jackson’s legal troubles sidelined the charity, she took over.
“He wasn’t going to be involved in the day-to-day operations, so they were ok with us running the charity,? she told News Channel 3. ?This was a year before he died. Everything we’ve done, Mr. Jackson knew about. We worked with his management; we reported to his management.?
Shortly after the singer died, Johnson was hit with a lawsuit from his estate, which claimed she had no direct ties with Jackson.
“They claimed we just swooped in after Michael died. And we’re just one of the many trying to exploit his death for financial and personal gain. Which is ? it’s devastating,” she said.
Brian Oxman has been a Jackson family attorney for more than 20 years. He came to her defense recently, and told News Channel 3 Johnson is telling the truth.
“She provided me with a whole description of what she wanted to do with Heal The World Foundation,? Oxman said. ?It was a great big, huge book. It had descriptions of all of the things. We presented it to Michael, and he went over it, and (he) said it was fine with him. He had no objection to anything Melissa Johnson did.”
The lawsuit filed by the estate claimed Johnson unlawfully obtained names and phrases, such as “King of Pop,” “Neverland” and “Thriller” in order to deceive people and rake in donations.
She said it was all done to protect Jackson’s legacy.
“We bought the trademarks only days after he died,? Johnson said. ?It wasn’t until a week after he died and days of begging the new Jackson management to preserve his trademarks that we finally said ‘enough is enough.'”
Johnson said estate executors didn’t have an interest in the charity, until a $30 million offer came in for one of the trademarks.
“The only thing we asked: we wanted to give it to the Jackson sisters and brothers, give them all the trademarks,? she said
But Johnson claimed executors blew her off, and then started a public campaign to vilify her, to bring down the charity, and get control of the valuable trademarks.
“The estate has been hijacked by strangers,? Oxman said.
Even today, he said estate executors keep the Jackson family out of the loop.
“We have those people who Michael Jackson said, ‘You are no longer part of my life. You are not to have anything to do with me ever again.’ They are the administrators of his estate,” Oxman said.
“I think in the life of Michael Jackson, the rules of logic and the rules of law just don’t seem to prevail,” he said.
Michael Jackson’s estate has reportedly earned nearly a billion dollars since his death.
Meanwhile, Johnson said she doesn’t have money for the attorney she needs to fight the injunction, but she’s not giving up.
?I just want to make sure we’re not going to hand over the farm to bad guys who are going to exploit Mr. Jackson in death the way he was exploited in life,” she said.