Law-enforcement authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Michael Jackson based on “multiple counts of child molestation” after having searched the pop star’s California ranch yesterday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Anderson announced today.
The search warrant was issued after a 12-year-old Los Angeles boy reportedly brought allegations against Jackson.
Jackson will turn himself in to authorities late tomorrow morning and meet his attorney, Mark Geragos, at the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s office, reports CNN. Jackson currently is thought to be in Las Vegas or on his way back to California.
The arrest warrant was for a violation of Section 288(a) of the California Penal Code – which prohibits lewd or lascivious acts with a child under age 14.
The television program “Celebrity Justice” said a therapist reported disclosures by the boy, who spent time at Neverland and began therapy several months ago.
Jim Anderson said two other search warrants were issued for properties in Los Angeles County, but he would not reveal the specific locations.
Bail has been set at $3 million, Anderson said. The sheriff also indicated Jackson will be required to surrender his passport.
“We encourage Mr. Jackson to turn himself in and cooperate with law-enforcement authorities,” Anderson said.
Tom Sneddon, Santa Barbara County district attorney, announced the minimum jail term for a single count is three years, but that a judge could add two years for each additional count on which Jackson might be convicted. He would not say how many counts ultimately will be filed.
Sneddon stressed the differences between this case and a similar investigation in 1993 against Jackson, which ended when the singer paid a multimillion-dollar settlement to the alleged victim.
In the ’93 case, Sneddon said, no arrest warrant was issued.
In addition, there was a civil case filed in ’93 concurrent with the criminal probe, which is not the case in this investigation.
Another difference, Sneddon said was that authorities have “a cooperative victim in these particular proceedings,” as opposed to the alleged victim in 1993. That boy decided not to testify against Jackson.
Quoting sources, Fox News reports the boy at the center of the latest case may have confessed to his therapist that the pop singer plied him with wine and sleeping pills when he allegedly molested him.
FNC says the boy who made the allegations was a cancer patient whose “last wish” was to meet Jackson at a time that his friends and family feared his illness was worsening.
According to sources, Jackson paid the family’s medical bills and assisted them financially, even buying them a car and possibly a new house. Fox reports when the boy’s condition improved, according to a family friend, the pop star brought him to his ranch. That’s when the alleged inappropriate contact between them is thought to have occurred.
The boy reportedly has hired Los Angeles attorney Larry Feldman, the same lawyer who represented the child involved in the 1993 allegations.
Jackson spokesperson Stuart Backerman released a statement this afternoon.
“The outrageous allegations against Michael Jackson are false,” it reads. “Michael would never harm a child in any way. These scurrilous and totally unfounded allegations will be proven false in a courtroom.”
Rolling Stone reports Backerman added that Jackson had made arrangements to return to Santa Barbara immediately to surrender to police.
Sixty to 70 law-enforcement personnel from the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices swarmed Jackson’s Neverland ranch yesterday morning as part of the criminal investigation. The search lasted until 11 p.m., Anderson said.
The property has a mansion, its own zoo and amusement park with bumper cars, a merry-go-round and Ferris wheel.
Michael Jackson (file photo)
Said Jackson in a statement yesterday: “I’ve seen lawyers who don’t represent me and spokespeople who do not know me speaking for me. These characters always seem to surface with dreadful allegations just as another project, an album, a video is being released.”
According to the Associated Press, Epic Records yesterday released “Number Ones,” a greatest hits collection featuring Jackson’s new single, “One More Chance.”
Sneddon said the timing of the search and arrest warrant were not set to coincide with Jackson’s new album.
Jackson’s career began to nosedive after the 1993 child-molestation allegations surfaced.
Earlier this year, WorldNetDaily reported the graphic details of the sexual relationship the boy says he and Jackson shared.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Jackson admitted in a February television documentary that he loves to have young boys sleep in his bed.
Although he claimed only “very few” boys had actually stayed in his bed, Jackson strongly defended the practice, saying: “Why can’t you share your bed? The most loving thing to do, is to share your bed with someone.”
When a reporter asked Anderson what he thought of parents who allow their children to spend the night at Neverland ranch, the sheriff said, “My advice is don’t do it.”