Michael Jackson: prosecution plans secret grand jury sessions
Linda Deutsch | March 24, 2004
LOS ANGELES — A parade of witnesses detailing old and new child molestation
claims against Michael Jackson will testify in a secret grand jury
proceeding expected to stretch over two weeks.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon will seek to
show that "a pattern of seduction" existed in a case 11 years ago
that was never prosecuted and the current case, in which Jackson is
alleged to have molested a 12-year-old boy, said a source close to
the case who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Sneddon is avoiding the spectacle of a public preliminary
hearing by going to the secret grand jury for an indictment. But
legal experts expressed surprise at the anticipated length of the
"They're going to throw in the kitchen sink," Loyola University
Law Professor Laurie Levenson said Tuesday. "They will be bringing
in every piece of evidence that might be relevant. They're casting
a wide net. And it gives them a dress rehearsal for the trial."
"Normally, the prosecution puts on a bare-bones case with as few
witnesses as possible," said criminal defense attorney Steve Cron.
"The fact that they're putting out this much evidence means they
may have a question of whether they are going to be successful."
Jackson's accuser, now 14, will be the star witness, explaining
to grand jurors why he and his family initially denied any
wrongdoing by Jackson and later alleged sexual misconduct.
Candidates for the grand jury received summonses earlier this
month instructing them to report Thursday. But the process of
selecting 19 jurors from more than 100 prospects could consume
several days before testimony begins.
Jim Thomas, the former Santa Barbara County sheriff at the time
Sneddon first tried to prosecute Jackson in 1993, said the grand
jury hearings could become a cloak-and-dagger operation with jurors
being shuttled to different locations every day to elude the media.
"They have to provide security for the kid and protect the
witnesses from media view," Thomas said.
A spokesman with Tellem Worldwide, which handles public
relations for Sneddon, said the prosecutor could not comment
because of a court-imposed gag order on everyone involved in the
The defense team, also bound by the gag order, is expected to
say at trial that the child and his family belatedly made
allegations of molestation because they were rebuffed in an effort
to get money from Jackson.
Jackson was charged Dec. 18 with seven counts of committing lewd
or lascivious acts upon a child under age 14 and two counts of
administering an intoxicating agent to the child. A pretrial
hearing is set for April 2.
Another source close to the case confirmed that Jackson received
a letter inviting him to testify before the grand jury. Such
invitations are routine, but few people who are targets of an
investigation agree to testify.
Among witnesses receiving subpoenas are those who testified in
1993 before a grand jury looking into allegations against Jackson
involving another boy. That grand jury never indicted and the case
was abandoned when Jackson reached a financial settlement with the
That accuser, who is now 23 and living in New York, could be
called as a witness. – Sapa-AP
Related links stories
Michael Jackson's first accuser may testify against him: report [23/03/2004]