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Reports: Jackson indicted by grand jury on child molestation charges

APRIL 22, 2004

LOS ANGELES — Pop star Michael Jackson was indicted by a Santa Barbara County grand jury investigating child molestation allegations, according to news reports.

The Santa Barbara News-Press cited county sources but had no details about the indictments, nor was there any official confirmation or announcement. Similar reports Wednesday by ABC, CNN, MSNBC and Web sites for The New York Times and USA Today cited sources that were not identified.

Grand jury indictments are usually secret until a defendant is arraigned. The grand jury proceedings in the Jackson case replaced a preliminary hearing, which determines whether there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Jackson's spokeswoman, Raymone Bain, issued a statement on behalf of Jackson's attorneys saying the singer will plead not guilty during his scheduled April 30 arraignment if the grand jury issues an indictment. The statement did not confirm that an indictment has been handed down.

The singer and his attorneys "are confident that after a trial ... Jackson will be fully exonerated," the statement read. "Michael is looking forward to his day in court."

Bain added in an interview that "nothing has been issued from the court which indicates that there is an indictment." "In the next few days, as the dust settles, things will get clearer," she said Wednesday night. She said she had spoken with Jackson on Wednesday and that "he is out and about."

Jackson attorney Mark Geragos, reached by telephone, would not answer questions from The Associated Press. Geragos, other defense attorneys and prosecutors in the case are covered by a gag order.

The district attorney's office also would not comment about the media reports.

"This probably is a court matter, to be able to give the information out, not the district attorney's office," said Susan Tellem of Tellem Worldwide, hired to handle media inquiries for District Attorney Tom Sneddon.

Tellem said court administrator Gary Blair would determine when the court would officially release any information about the grand jury. Messages left at Blair's office were not immediately returned.

The grand jury has spent the last three weeks hearing from witnesses, including a 14-year-old boy who claims the pop superstar sexually abused him.

Four months ago, county prosecutors charged Jackson with seven counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent, reportedly wine. Jackson pleaded not guilty in January.

In determining whether there was enough evidence to go to trial, Sneddon chose to present evidence to the closed grand jury, rather than at a preliminary hearing, which would be public. –Sapa-AP

Related links stories
Jackson hysteria in the corridors of Congress [01/04/2004]




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