Michael Jackson surrenders to police - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11-20-03

Michael Jackson surrenders to police

SANTA BARBARA, California -- Singer Michael Jackson arrived in handcuffs at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department Thursday where he will be booked on child molestation charges.

The pop star surrendered to authorities earlier at the Santa Barbara airport after arriving aboard a Gulf Stream G-4 private jet from Las Vegas.

The aircraft taxied partway into a hangar and the doors were partially closed around the fuselage to block media cameras.

Jackson was transported to the jail in a convoy of cars and was taken around back of the building to the jail's inmate reception center. His lead attorney, Mark Geragos, arrived in a separate car and entered through another door.

Jackson will be booked, photographed and fingerprinted, and will be required to surrender his passport and post a $3 million bond before being released.

District Attorney Tom Sneddon said Jackson faces multiple counts of lewd or lascivious contact with a child younger than 14.

When authorities announced the arrest warrant for Jackson on Wednesday, they indicated he had a limited amount of time to surrender and turn in his passport.

Sneddon said his message for Jackson is: "Get over here and get checked in." (Transcript of news conference)

Jackson, 45, had been in Las Vegas, Nevada, shooting a video, his spokesman, Stuart Backerman said.

Backerman released a statement saying arrangements have been made with the district attorney for Jackson "to return to Santa Barbara to immediately confront and prove these charges unfounded."

He promised the allegations would be proved false in court.

"Michael would never harm a child in any way," he said. "When the evidence is presented and the allegations proven to be malicious and wholly unfounded, Michael will be able to put this nightmare behind him."

Authorities released no details about the child or the time of the alleged molestation. A judge ordered affidavits in the case sealed for 45 days.

Authorities asked other possible victims to come forward.

Jackson could face a minimum of three years and a maximum of eight years in prison on each count if convicted.

The warrant set his bail at $3 million dollars, according to authorities.

CBS announced Wednesday that "given the gravity of the charges" against Jackson it was postponing a special program on him scheduled for November 26.

The allegations come almost a decade after Jackson settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of a boy who spent the night at Neverland Ranch when he was 13 and accused Jackson of molesting him.

Criminal investigators stopped pursuing their case after the lawsuit was settled and the boy -- by then 14 -- made clear he did not want to participate in any prosecution of the singer.

Sneddon said he did not know whether the parents of the accuser were aware of the past allegations. He said no civil suit has been filed in the case and none is expected.

"We have a cooperative victim in this particular proceeding," Sneddon said.

Dozens of law enforcement officers searched Jackson's ranch for about 13 hours Tuesday, and search warrants were served on two other locations in Southern California where some property was seized, authorities said.

Jackson's mansion is on a 2,600-acre estate about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Santa Barbara and features amusement park rides, a petting zoo and statues of children.

Backerman said the tone of the authorities' news conference was disturbing.

"We are disturbed by the levity of the environment surrounding the announcement of these very serious charges," he said.

Backerman said the singer has been in Las Vegas for the past two-and-a-half weeks shooting a video for the song "One More Chance." That single is on his "Number Ones" album, a greatest-hits collection released Tuesday by Epic Records.

Questions have been raised about whether the execution of the search warrants was timed to coincide with the music release.

Sneddon rejected that idea. "In fact, we were going to execute these warrants several weeks ago, but had to put it off" for operational reasons, he said.

"It really has nothing to do with his album or whatever else he's doing in his life."

Jackson sang about Sneddon in his song "D.S.," which was on the pop star's 1995 double-CD album "HIStory Past, Present and Future, Book 1." Each chorus repeats the line "Tom Sneddon is a cold man" four times. (Full story)

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said Santa Barbara police have not asked permission to arrest Jackson in Las Vegas, which they would do if they wanted to arrest him immediately rather than allowing him to return to Santa Barbara and turn himself in.

Geragos -- who has been representing Scott Peterson in a high-profile California trial -- will be Jackson's lead attorney, Backerman said.

Brian Oxman, an attorney for the Jackson family, told CNN he believes the investigation stems from someone else seeking financial gain from Jackson.

"It is a case of excitement and hysteria because we have the same accusations that we had 10 years ago," he said. "It's like playing the playoffs all over again."

Terms of the settlement of the lawsuit -- filed in 1993 and settled the next year -- were confidential, though the boy's attorney said at the time the boy and his family were happy to resolve the matter.

Johnnie Cochran, Jackson's attorney in that case, said at the time that Jackson maintained his innocence and that the settlement was in no way an admission of guilt.

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