The prosecutor who charged Michael Jackson with child molestation has confirmed that a grand jury is convening in Santa Barbara but won't say whether the panel will be investigating the case.
Word that a grand jury was being summoned for the Jackson case was first reported in Wednesday's edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press. Citing unnamed legal sources, the newspaper said potential grand jurors had received summonses to appear later this month. Jackson has pleaded innocent to seven counts of performing lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent, reportedly wine. He's free on $3 million bail.
The singer has labeled the accusations "a big lie." He and Geragos say the boy and his family are after Jackson's money. Geragos said Jackson was "unequivocally" innocent and would fight the charges "with every fiber of his soul." Geragos called the prosecution's case an "intersection" between a "shakedown" by somebody who wants money and an investigator "with an ax to grind." Sneddon tried to bring molestation charges against Jackson in 1993, but the case died when the alleged victim settled out of court with Jackson for a reported $15 million to $20 million and refused to testify against him. The new allegations are believed to center on the boy's stays at Jackson's estate, when he reportedly slept in the singer's bed. The complaint alleges that lewd acts between Feb. 7 and March 10 involved "substantial sexual conduct with the victim." The charges said Jackson committed the acts "with the intent of arousing, appealing to and gratifying the lust, passions and sexual desires" of himself and the child. If convicted, Jackson faces years in prison and the probable end of his already flagging music career. Each count of lewd or lascivious acts carries prison time of up to three, six or eight years.