Child molestation charges to be filed against Michael Jackson
Jackson sings at the Aladdin Hotel on October 27 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
From the Wolf Blitzer Reports staff in Washington:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- This time, the insidious allegations against Michael Jackson will come with a criminal charge.
Santa Barbara County, California, Sheriff Jim Anderson made the announcement Wednesday: "An arrest warrant for Mr. Jackson has been issued on multiple counts of child molestation."
The Santa Barbara County district attorney says charges will be filed against the pop star in a "very short" period of time and that Jackson has been "given an opportunity to surrender himself" to authorities.
Bail on the warrant is $3 million.
District Attorney Tom Sneddon says the child who was allegedly molested by Jackson is willing to testify against him. Jackson could face up to eight years in prison on each count, if he's convicted.
The singer's Neverland Ranch was searched yesterday as part of the investigation and two other warrants were served elsewhere in southern California.
At the time, Jackson was in Las Vegas shooting a music video.
Jackson spokesman Stuart Backerman issued the following statement on Wednesday:
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"The outrageous allegations against Michael Jackson are false. Michael would never harm a child in any way. These scurrilous and totally unfounded allegations will be proven false in a courtroom ... "
And on Tuesday, a spokesman issued this statement, referring to some attorneys and others who speak about Jackson to the media:
"These characters always seem to surface with a dreadful allegation just as another project, an album, a video, is being released."
"Like the sheriff and I are really into that kind of music. Our kids are grown up," responded Sneddon. "But seriously, we had no knowledge about the release of a CD or anything like that ... And we were going to do this weeks ago, but we had a lot of people come into town for Halloween."
Nearly ten years ago, Jackson settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of a then-13-year-old boy, who'd accused Jackson of molesting him at the Neverland Ranch. No criminal charges were ever filed in that case.
But as allegations and strange public displays have added up over the years, observers say at the very least, Jackson has mismanaged his image -- badly.
"He's absolutely guilty of creating an appearance of impropriety where children are concerned ... He should never have had any involvement with kids other than his own. That's how he's gotten into this trouble," says Jackson biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli.
Someone else in legal trouble now has to share his lawyer with Michael Jackson. CNN has learned Jackson has hired Mark Geragos, who has been representing Scott Peterson in a high-profile California trial, as a paid legal consultant.