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Jackson Case: Jackson booked on child molestation charges

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Editor's Note: As part of CNN.com's new Crime section, we are archiving some of the most interesting content from CourtTVNews.com. This story was first published in 2003.

(Court TV) -- A handcuffed Michael Jackson arrived at the Santa Barbara jail Thursday to face child molestation charges that could put him behind bars for years if convicted.

Jackson was first taken into custody at 12:05 p.m. after his private jet was parked nose first into a hangar at the Santa Barbara airport. It was the first of many maneuvers Jackson used to thwart news media helicopters and reporters.

Twenty minutes later, Jackson pulled up to the rear of the Santa Barbara County main jail in an unmarked, nondescript police cruiser. Moments before, his attorney, Mark Geragos, had sent the crowd of reporters gathered in front of the building scrambling to catch him as he exited a long, black Chevrolet Suburban and entered the facility.

Caught by one of four news helicopters whirling above the hilltop facility, Jackson could be seen slowly emerging from the cruiser, with his hands cuffed behind him.

Inside, Jackson's lawyer, Mark Geragos confirmed, Jackson posted $3 million bail, posed for a mugshot, and was advised of the charges against him.

"Michael is here. He's come back specifically to confront these charges head on," said Geragos. "He considers this to be a big lie. He understands the people who are outraged, because if these charges were true, I can assure you that Michael would be the first to be outraged."

Jermaine Jackson, Jackson's older brother, supported his brother in a profanity-laced diatribe on CNN.

"What they're doing is bringing him down with the very thing that he loves, his children," said Jackson. "This is nothing but a modern-day lynching. Michael's innocent."

A statement released by Jackson's spokesperson, Stuart Backerman, compared the allegations to an endurance challenge.

"Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons," said the statement. "The truth will win this marathon."

From Jackson's arrest at the airport through the news conferences Thursday afternoon, law enforcement officials said they received a dramatic drop-off in emergency calls, attributing the lull to intense public interest in Jackson's troubles.

While some of Jackson's fans appeared to have assembled at the airport where he arrived Thursday afternoon, the bucolic hilltop jail facility was thronged with more than 150 representatives of local, national and international media to report on Jackson's routine booking process.

Jackson's private bodyguards, dressed in dark suits, stood on the lawn of the jail talking to each other as local residents, armed with snap cameras, waded into the media fray. Two young men outside the facility Thursday held aloft a sign saying "Moonwalk 2 Jail."

A local cameraman reportedly died on the lawn during the news conference given by Geragos. The cause was unclear.

Jackson had left North Las Vegas Airport aboard a leased jet late Thursday morning heading for Santa Barbara Municipal Airport. The jet was said to be carrying Jackson, his family and a bodyguard.

Jackson had been in Las Vegas filming a music video when dozens of law enforcement agents swarmed his Neverland ranch compound near Santa Barbara Tuesday to serve a search warrant. Authorities announced Wednesday that an arrest warrant alleging child molestation had been issued. He has not been formally charged.

The state's child molestation charge covers lewd or lascivious acts with a child under age 14 and is punishable by three to eight years in prison, law enforcement officials said.

"Get over here and get checked in," District Attorney Thomas Sneddon Jr. advised the 45-year-old "King of Pop" at a news conference broadcast worldwide Wednesday.

"Michael would never harm a child in any way," Jackson spokesman Stuart Backerman said in a statement. "These scurrilous and totally unfounded allegations will be proven false in a courtroom."

Geragos is also representing Scott Peterson in his high-profile murder case in Modesto, Calif.

Mark Geragos wasn't the only attorney the Jackson family may have considered. His camp also recently contacted the offices of Thomas Mesereau, who is defending actor Robert Blake on murder charges, say sources with knowledge of the call. Mesereau declined to take Jackson's case, saying he was committed to one high-profile trial.

Similar allegations surfaced against Jackson a decade ago, but they never led to the filing of criminal charges and in 1994 the probe became inactive. Jackson had maintained his innocence but reportedly paid a multimillion-dollar civil settlement, and the child would not testify in any criminal proceeding.

Sneddon said this case was different because he had a cooperative victim and because of a change in state law "specifically because of the 1993-94 Michael Jackson investigation."

Sneddon would not say when or where the alleged crimes took place or how old the child was. He said an affidavit outlining the details will be sealed for 45 days.

But Brian Oxman, who has been an attorney for the Jackson family for years but is not directly representing Michael Jackson in this case, told CBS that the case involves the alleged molestation of a 12-year-old boy at Neverland Ranch, the storybook playground where the singer has been known to hold sleepover parties with children.

In a documentary broadcast on ABC earlier this year, Jackson said he had slept in a bed with many children. "When you say `bed,' you're thinking sexual," he said in the interview. "It's not sexual, we're going to sleep. I tuck them in. ... It's very charming, it's very sweet."

Jackson, in a statement Tuesday, noted that the allegations surfaced the same day a new greatest hits CD, "Number Ones," was released, but the district attorney dismissed any connection.

"Like the sheriff and I are really into that kind of music," Sneddon said.

On Wednesday, CBS pulled a Jackson music special planned for next Wednesday on his greatest hits and the impact on pop culture of the former child star who got his start with his brothers as a member of the singing-and-dancing Jackson 5. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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