Jackson Facing Multiple Child Molestation Counts

Michael Jackson is facing multiple counts of child molestation, it was announced today (Nov. 19) by Santa Barbara, Calif., police officials. An arrest warrant has been served against Jackson, who is n

Michael Jackson is facing multiple counts of child molestation, it was announced today (Nov. 19) by Santa Barbara, Calif., police officials. An arrest warrant has been served against Jackson, who is not currently in California but has been given the option to surrender to authorities. Bail will be set at $3 million; Jackson will be required to surrender his passport when he is taken into custody.

The arrest warrant was for violation of a California law that prohibits lewd or lascivious acts with a child under age 14. According to Santa Barbara Country District Attorney Tom Sneddon, the number of charges will not be immediately released, but each carries a maximum penalty of eight years in jail. The alleged victim in the case has not been identified but will be required to testify, according to Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Anderson.

"The outrageous allegations against Michael Jackson are false," reads a statement from Jackson's spokesperson, Stuart Backerman. "Michael would never harm a child in any way. These scurrilous and totally unfounded allegations will be proven false in a courtroom. Naturally, the implications are distressing to everyone who hears them, which is precisely the point."

Jackson is said to have "already made arrangements with the District Attorney to return to Santa Barbara to immediately confront and prove these charges unfounded."

Yesterday, more than 60 law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Jackson's sprawling Neverland estate in Los Olivos, and spent nearly 15 hours videotaping the grounds inside and out.

Sneddon claimed the timing of the search had nothing to do with the release yesterday by Epic of Jackson's "Number Ones" CD/DVD. "We were going to execute these warrants several weeks ago," he said, adding that procedural issues were involved in the chronology. "We've been ready to do this for some period of time."

Sneddon and Anderson refused to speculate on whether Jackson's own children would be removed from his custody, in light of the pending charges. Anderson added that a potential stipulation of Jackson's bail would prohibit him from having contact with minors.

CBS has postponed the special, "Michael Jackson Number Ones," which was to air Nov. 26.