Published November 21, 2003
LOS ANGELES – An attorney who has tangled with Michael Jackson (search) called Friday for child welfare authorities to temporarily remove the pop star's three children from his custody because of new child molestation allegations.
Gloria Allred's (search) demand came as quiet descended on Santa Barbara following Jackson's media-saturated surrender Thursday.
An arrest warrant alleges Jackson committed lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14. The Santa Barbara district attorney has said he does not plan to file charges until after Thanksgiving.
After posting $3 million bail Thursday, Jackson returned to a Las Vegas-area hotel-casino, but his whereabouts Friday were unclear.
"He's with his kids and his family. That's all I can say," Jackson family spokesman Steve Manning said Friday.
A spokeswoman for Green Valley Ranch (search) in Henderson, Nev., declined comment on a report that Michael Jackson was seen leaving the hotel-casino about 4 a.m. Friday.
The Jackson family was at the Las Vegas studio of CMX Productions Inc (search). on Friday, company spokesman Dean DeLorean said. He would not say whether Michael Jackson was among the group.
At a news conference Friday, Allred said she has twice asked child-welfare officials to investigate Jackson.
"I believe the children should be temporarily removed from Mr. Jackson's care and custody because of the history of Michael Jackson with children ... combined with present criminal allegations," she said at a news conference.
Allred cited statements Jackson has made about having sleep-overs with children, a previous molestation allegation and an incident in which he dangled his infant son outside the window of a German hotel last year.
In 1993 Allred briefly represented a 13-year-old boy involved in a molestation allegation that never led to criminal charges. The case reportedly ended with Jackson paying a multimillion-dollar civil settlement.
Jackson spokesman Stuart Backerman had no comment on Allred's demand, but it was denounced by Brian Oxman, an attorney who has represented Jackson family members, but not Michael Jackson.
"It is outrageous that she should seek such media attention for her own aggrandizement. She is attacking Michael for her own benefit," Oxman said.
Allred said she was "acting as a citizen."
Jackson has three children: 6-year-old Prince Michael I, 5-year-old Paris and a baby, Prince Michael II. Little is known about the youngest child, whose mother has not been identified. Prince Michael I and Paris were born during his marriage to nurse Debbie Rowe, which ended in 1999.
Michael X. Dean, deputy director of Santa Barbara County Social Services, on Thursday declined to say whether there were plans to take Jackson's children into custody, citing confidentiality rules.
Dean said that generally, criminal charges can prompt a child welfare investigation, but he added that such an investigation is not automatic.
Media reports have said the alleged victim in the latest case is a 12- or 13-year-old cancer survivor who visited Jackson at his Neverland Ranch, a storybook playland where the singer, who has befriended several cancer victims, was known to hold sleep-overs for children and share his bed with youngsters.
A lawyer for the father of one young cancer patient told The Associated Press his client's son was invited to a sleep-over at the ranch. But his client doesn't know whether his son is the child at the center of the molestation investigation, attorney H. Russell Halpern said.
The father is seeking custody of the boy from his ex-wife.
Halpern reiterated Friday that media reports were "assuming that my client's son is the object of the child molestation case. I can't say for certain he's the boy in the case. ... Other people believe my client's son is the boy, but I can't confirm it."
Jackson, meanwhile, was finding some sympathy among music associates and neighbors.
Quincy Jones (search), producer of Jackson's landmark "Thriller" album, told the syndicated TV program "Access Hollywood" he was concerned about the media coverage of the case.
"I don't know what to think about it. We are bombarded all day with choices from the Beltway Sniper to Laci Peterson. It never stops, you know, sensationalism in the media," Jones said.
In the town of Los Olivos near Neverland, store owners defended Jackson.
"Around this town people are used to seeing Michael. He's been known to walk up and down the street here," said Sharon Frowiss, manager of Jedlicka's Saddlery Inc., where he recently bought a $229 tricycle.
"When he walked in the door you said, 'Oh my gosh,' but then you keep it to yourself and go about your business," she said.