Michael Jackson pled not guilty today (April 30) in Santa Maria, Calif., to an indictment charging him with child molestation and a conspiracy count alleging child abduction, false imprisonment and ex
Michael Jackson pled not guilty today (April 30) in Santa Maria, Calif., to an indictment charging him with child molestation and a conspiracy count alleging child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. The indictment also included four counts of lewd acts involving a minor child, one count involving an attempted lewd act upon a child and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent.
The alleged child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion are not individual charges. Rather they are alleged as the circumstances leading to the conspiracy count.
After being given copies of the indictment, Jackson and his attorneys went into a room adjacent to the courtroom to read it. The indictment, issued in secret earlier this month, replaces charges filed by prosecutors that alleged seven counts of lewd or lascivious conduct involving a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicant to a child under 14.
Copies of the indictment were not immediately released to the public, and it was not known whether the new charges involved the same child or others.
With an indictment, prosecutors don't have to put on a preliminary hearing in front of the judge to show there is enough evidence to put the pop star on trial.
Jackson, who was scolded by the judge for being late to his previous arraignment, arrived 40 minutes early. He waved to several hundred fans as he entered the courtroom under an umbrella.
The size of the crowd was smaller than at his first arraignment, and there was no sign of the Nation of Islam bodyguards who accompanied him then. Police Chief Danny Macagni said 42 of Santa Maria's 107 police officers were assigned to the courthouse, along with about 50 sheriff's deputies.
Thomas Mesereau Jr., a veteran criminal defense attorney, took over the case last weekend after Jackson decided to remove Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman, the two high-profile lawyers who had been directing his defense. The star said he wanted lawyers who could devote full time to his case.
Precautions were taken by the city to prevent a repeat of Jackson's Jan. 16 arraignment when he danced on an SUV as he left in a throng of 3,000 fans. The courthouse resembled a fortress ready for a siege with chain-link fences and metal barricades to hold back the crowd.
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