Bail set at $3 million
Wednesday, November 19, 2003 Posted: 2:42 PM EST (1942 GMT)
From the California Penal Code Section 288(a):
Any person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, including any of the acts constituting other crimes provided for in Part 1, upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.
LOS OLIVOS, California (CNN) -- Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Michael Jackson on multiple counts of child molestation and have directed him to surrender and turn in his passport, Santa Barbara County authorities said Wednesday.
"The bail amount on the warrant has been set at $3 million," Sheriff Jim Anderson said.
District Attorney Tom Sneddon said Jackson faces multiple counts of lewd or lascivious contact with a child younger than 14-years-old. He could face a minimum of three years and a maximum of eight years in prison on each count if convicted.
Sneddon said child molestation charges will be filed in a "very short" period of time. No civil suit has been filed in the case and no civil suit is expected, he said.
"We have a cooperative victim in this particular proceeding," Sneddon said.
Jackson's Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara, California, was searched Tuesday as part of the investigation, and two other search warrants were issued in Southern California, Anderson said.
Jackson's spokesman Stuart Backerman said the singer has been in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the past two-and-a-half weeks, shooting a video for the song "One More Chance." That single is on his "Number Ones" album, a greatest-hits collection released Tuesday by Epic Records.
Earlier, Backerman told CNN that Jackson's legal team was in talks with Santa Barbara authorities to arrange for Jackson to be taken into custody.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said Santa Barbara police have not asked permission to arrest Jackson in Las Vegas, which they would do if they wanted to arrest him immediately rather than allowing him to return to Santa Barbara and turn himself in.
Attorney Mark Geragos -- who has been representing Scott Peterson in a high-profile California trial -- is a paid consultant on the legal team, but has not been determined to be Jackson's lead attorney, Backerman said.
About 70 officials from the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department and the district attorney's office searched the home for about 13 hours. There was no official word on what they were searching for or may have found.
Jackson's mansion is on a 2,600-acre estate about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Santa Barbara, and features amusement park rides, a petting zoo and statues of children.
According to Backerman, Jackson said: "I've seen lawyers who do not represent me and spokespeople who do not know me speaking for me. These characters always seem to surface with a dreadful allegation just as another project, an album, a video, is being released."
The allegations come almost a decade after Jackson settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of a boy who had slept over at Neverland Ranch when he was 13 and accused Jackson of molesting him. No criminal charges were filed in that case.
Attorney Larry R. Feldman, who represented the alleged victim in the 1993 child molestation lawsuit against Jackson, told CNN on Tuesday that he would "not confirm or deny" that he is representing anyone in a civil or criminal investigation pertaining to Jackson because of possible "violation of attorney-client privilege."
Brian Oxman, an attorney for the Jackson family, said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that he believes the investigation stems from someone else seeking financial gain from Jackson.
"It is a case of excitement and hysteria because we have the same accusations that we had 10 years ago," he said. "It's like playing the playoffs all over again."
Michael Jackson is seen here on stage at the Aladdin Hotel on October 27 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Johnnie Cochran, Jackson's attorney in the case 10 years ago, said it's odd the search warrant was served the day the singer's latest album was released.
"I think it's more than coincidence. I think it was planned," he said on "Larry King Live."
Cochran said he's tried to counsel Jackson "not to ever put yourself in that position" of being alone with young children.
"But that's who Michael Jackson is, he's a very, very naive person in many respects, and there's no question about that. Yeah, he does wear a bull's eye," Cochran said.
Backerman criticized what he called "the malignant horde of media hounds claiming to speak for Michael on this and many other issues.
"A rogues' gallery of hucksters and self-styled 'inside sources' have dominated the airwaves since reports of a search of Neverland broke, speculating, guessing and fabricating information about an investigation they couldn't possibly know about," he said.
Terms of the settlement of the lawsuit -- filed in 1993 and settled in '94 -- were confidential, though the boy's attorney -- Feldman -- said at the time they were happy to resolve the matter.
Cochran said at the time that Jackson maintained his innocence and that the settlement was in no way an admission of guilt.
Criminal investigators stopped pursuing their case after the lawsuit was settled and the young boy -- by then 14 -- made clear he did not want to participate in any prosecution of the singer.
CNN correspondents Frank Buckley and Charles Feldman and producer Stan Wilson contributed to this report.
CNN - Half the News, All the Time