Jackson Trial Delayed Until 2005

The sexual molestation case against Michael Jackson is proving so complicated that Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville yesterday (July 27) agreed to a defense request to delay th

The sexual molestation case against Michael Jackson is proving so complicated that Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville yesterday (July 27) agreed to a defense request to delay the start of his trial for more than four months, to Jan. 31, 2005.

Jackson, who did not attend the hearing, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He is free on $3 million bail.

Yesterday, the first glimpse prosecutors gave of their case against Jackson turned out not to be of child molestation allegations but a bizarre tale of a family's alleged imprisonment at the entertainer's Neverland Ranch.

Legal experts said the story outlined by Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss runs counter to public assumptions about what is alleged to have happened between Jackson and the 12-year-old boy authorities say he molested. "It's not what we expected as the theory," said Loyola University Law School professor Laurie Levenson. "It seems backwards."

In the scenario described by the prosecution, Jackson met the 12-year-old boy, a cancer patient who would become his accuser, and decided to use him for the perfect "photo op" while doing a documentary with a British TV network. The 12-year-old is seen holding hands with the entertainer in the documentary in which Jackson defends his practice of having boys sleep with him, calling it "sweet" and non-sexual.

But after "Living With Michael Jackson" aired, Auchincloss said Jackson panicked and launched into a bizarre attempt at crisis management. "The fact that Mr. Jackson rationalized this behavior on national television was his downfall," Auchincloss said during the hearing on a defense motion to dismiss the case. "It represented the complete and utter ruin of his empire ... It made him an international object of loathing and scorn."

The prosecutor then said Jackson gave the boy and his family luxurious gifts, flew them to exotic vacations where they met celebrities and took them to his Neverland ranch to make a "rebuttal video" in which they would say that nothing sexual happened between the boy and Jackson. But according to their timeline, nothing did happen until much later.

Auchincloss also suggested that two still-secret sections of Jackson's indictment "show the seduction of John Doe." But he did not reveal any details of molestation and the judge refused to release the documents that might explain more.

The case's next hearing begins Aug. 16 when the chief prosecutor, District Attorney Tom Sneddon, is due to testify about his own role in conducting surveillance in the case.


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