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Jackson Rails Against Leaks in Abuse Case

January 31, 2005|Steve Chawkins | Times Staff Writer

Michael Jackson spoke out Sunday against leaks in his child-molestation case, reiterating his innocence and calling the material recently revealed from grand jury transcripts "disgusting and false."

The singer's remarks came on the eve of jury selection in the high-profile trial. Jackson released a video statement on his website and read it in a taped appearance with Geraldo Rivera of Fox News that was made available on the network's website.

Although Jackson and others in the case are under a gag order that bars them from discussing details of the case outside of court, he received permission earlier this month from Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville to speak generally about his case in order to counter the leaks.

"Years ago, I allowed a family to visit and spend time at Neverland. Neverland is my home," Jackson, sitting on a director's folding chair for the Fox News appearance, said as he looked into the camera. "I allowed this family into my home because they told me their son was ill with cancer and needed my help."

Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting the then-12-year-old cancer patient and later leading a conspiracy to cover it up.

"Through the years, I have helped thousands of children who were ill or in distress," he said.

Jackson's attorneys have claimed in court that he was the victim of a shakedown concocted by the boy's mother. On Sunday, he did not allude to that claim.

"These events have caused a nightmare for my family, my children and me," he said. "I never intend to place myself in so vulnerable a position again."

Jackson said the leaked portions of grand jury transcripts conveyed "ugly, malicious information" about him.

The grand jury material appeared on a website called TheSmokingGun.com and on ABC News. The transcripts painted an explicit picture of Jackson's alleged sexual activities with the boy.

In his statement, Jackson pointed out that neither he nor his attorneys appeared before the grand jury. In court, his lawyers have claimed that prosecutors never adequately presented the defendant's side of the charges to the grand jurors, as the law requires.

Jackson predicted that he will be found not guilty.

"Please keep an open mind and let me have my day in court," he said in his statement. "I deserve a fair trial like every other American citizen. I will be acquitted and vindicated when the truth is told."

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