Jackson denies child molestation allegations

December 23, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Breaking five weeks of silence, a shaken Michael Jackson spoke briefly to the world yesterday, denying the allegations that he sexually molested a 13-year-old boy and disclosing that he has been forced to undergo the "horrifying nightmare" of having his body inspected and photographed.

In a four-minute statement delivered via satellite from his Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, Mr. Jackson repeatedly proclaimed his innocence and denounced the media for its coverage of the case. He appeared near tears as he described a search of his body conducted this week by investigators from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, who were attempting to determine whether a description of Mr. Jackson provided by his alleged victim was accurate.

"They served a search warrant on me which allowed them to view and photograph my body . . . ," said Mr. Jackson, his voice trembling. "It was the most humiliating ordeal of my life, one that no person should ever have to suffer."

Mr. Jackson, who appeared alone and did not take questions, opened and closed his statement by proclaiming his innocence. Near the end of his remarks, he quoted scripture and reaffirmed his love for children.

"I am not guilty of these allegations, but if I am guilty of anything it is of giving all that I have to give to help children all over the world," Mr. Jackson said. "It is of loving children of all ages and races. It is of gaining sheer joy from seeing children with their innocent and smiling faces. It is of enjoying through them the childhood that I missed myself.

The singer's brief statement was his most forceful response to the allegations and his first public comment since he broke off his world tour Nov. 12. It came as poll numbers are suggesting that Mr. Jackson's credibility is being questioned by more and more people, and it followed a shake-up in his defense team.

Larry R. Feldman, the lawyer for the 13-year-old boy whose allegations of child molestation sparked the criminal investigation into Mr. Jackson, said the statement demonstrated the hypocrisy of Mr. Jackson and his camp.

"This just illustrates how inconsistent Jackson and his people are," Mr. Feldman said in an interview. "They say that they don't want to try this case in the press, and then they hold the biggest press conference in the world, only they don't allow questions. They say they want to get this case over with as quickly as possible, but just 30 days ago, they made a motion to delay this case for as long as six years."

Mr. Jackson appeared to become emotional at several points.

"There have been many disgusting statements made recently concerning allegations of improper conduct on my part," he said near the beginning of his remarks.

Mr. Jackson was particularly critical of the news coverage, a theme that his lawyers and other supporters have sounded in recent weeks. Monday, the leaders of the West Coast Region of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People criticized the avalanche of media attention, though that organization declined to take a position on Mr. Jackson's guilt or innocence.

"I am particularly upset by the handling of this mass matter by the incredible, terrible mass media," Mr. Jackson said. "At every opportunity, the media has dissected and manipulated these allegations to reach their own conclusions. I ask all of you to wait and hear the truth before you label or condemn me. Don't treat me like a criminal because I am innocent."

THE STATEMENT

To hear Michael Jackson's entire statement as it was broadcast live from his Neverland Valley ranch, call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. Call 268-7736 in Anne Arundel County, 836-5028 in Harford County, 848-0338 in Carroll County. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6115 after you hear the greeting.

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