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Jackson grand jury hears testimony

A grand jury listened to the first day of testimony in the molestation case against Michael Jackson on Monday.

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Grand jury hears case against Jackson
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Michael Jackson
Justice and Rights

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A grand jury began hearing testimony at a secret location Monday in the child molestation case against pop star Michael Jackson.

Grand jurors will meet four times this week to hear evidence offered by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon.

The jury was selected last week. (Full story)

Sneddon charged the 45-year-old Jackson late last year with seven felony counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 and two counts of giving the child an "intoxicating agent."

Prosecutors say the incidents took place in February and March 2003, when Jackson's accuser was 12. Jackson pleaded not guilty.

If prosecutors obtain the indictment they are seeking from the grand jury, they would not have to present evidence at a preliminary hearing to determine if the case should go to trial.

Just what evidence grand jurors will hear and when they will hear it is being kept a closely guarded secret by a Santa Barbara superior court judge.

While grand jury proceedings are typically secret, the court has added a level of secrecy by moving the grand jury to a site away from the location where it normally meets.

Just who will testify remains a question. It has been reported that Jackson's allege accuser, now 14, may testify.

It has also been reported Jackson's accuser in a case of alleged molestation in 1993 could testify as well -- despite an out-of-court settlement.

A veteran defense lawyer familiar with grand jury proceedings said testimony is possible from relatives, investigators and doctors who played a part in the current case, the 1993 case, or both.

Grand jurors are also likely to hear at least some evidence netted from the 18 search warrants issued in the case.

The affidavit of the most recent warrant indicated investigators sought an "unedited video" tape of Jackson, hoping to establish a relationship between him and the alleged victim.

Warrants unsealed

Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville unsealed the last of the 18 warrants last week, all them heavily edited.

One of the warrants showed that investigators visited a Shurgard Storage location where they confiscated a computer and related items.

The documents were unsealed over approximately two and a half months and date back to November 17, 2003, when investigators searched Jackson's Neverland estate in Santa Barbara County.

Most of the items removed from various locations were computers, disks, VHS and Beta tapes and documents.

Melville released the redacted warrants after motions by the media, including CNN.

The Shurgard Storage entry reads, "A search will be conducted of storage unit [deleted] for the presence of evidence related to our investigation, specifically: Notes, diaries, documents, photographs, audiotapes and videotapes tending to show a relationship between Michael Jackson [deleted]."

The warrants included authorizations to examine accounts at Cingular Wireless and Verizon and at US Bank. One warrant was for the search of a safe deposit box.

Visit delayed

Meanwhile, Jackson's visit to Capitol Hill in Washington to promote fighting AIDS in Africa -- scheduled for Tuesday -- has been pushed back a day, a congressional official involved with the event said late Monday.

The official said organizers needed to resolve scheduling and logistical problems complicating the appearance.

The postponement came amid signs that Jackson may not be welcome by many on Capitol Hill.

"It's a distraction from the progress we've been making on issues that are important to the American people -- jobs and the economy," a Democratic leadership aide said. "It's a distraction for the media."

The influential Congressional Black Caucus had already turned down Jackson's request for a meeting.

The caucus cited scheduling conflicts, but aides acknowledged privately that many members did not want their picture taken with the embattled star.

Jackson was expected to meet with a handful of Democratic lawmakers -- including Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Rep. William Lacy Clay of Missouri.

A photo opportunity was planned for his arrival and a news conference was scheduled before his departure.

One congressional organizer insisted the visit would happen Wednesday.

"I don't think it's in trouble, no," she said. "AIDS is prevalent. It's not a distraction. We want to bring attention to it."

CNN's Miguel Marquez and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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