Published November 21, 2003
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A handcuffed Michael Jackson (search) was booked Thursday on suspicion of child molestation and released from the sheriff's office after posting $3 million bail.
A smiling Jackson raised his fingers in a "V," waved and blew a kiss as he emerged from the building. He then got into a black SUV with his high-profile attorney Mark Geragos (search) and drove off in the direction of the Santa Barbara airport with an escort of three sheriff's motorcycle officers.
Jackson later flew back to Las Vegas to continue working on a music video he was filming when the arrest warrant was served.
"Jackson and his people were very cooperative," said Sgt. Chris Pappas, a spokesman from the Santa Barbara sheriff's office. The booking took only about 30 to 40 minutes, he said.
The 45-year-old superstar will be arraigned Jan. 9 on multiple counts of child molestation, Pappas said.
The pop singer posted the $3 million bail authorities had set in the arrest warrant they issued on Wednesday and turned over his passport.
District Attorney Thomas W. Sneddon Jr. said Wednesday that charges would be filed soon in the case, but Pappas said Thursday that Sneddon "has announced that no charges will be filed until after Thanksgiving."
During Jackson's booking, he was fingerprinted, photographed and checked for weapons at the sheriff's office. The singer's mug shot was posted on www.sbsheriff.org, Pappas said.
Geragos told reporters Jackson had posted the bond by 4 p.m. EST (1 p.m. PST) and was "processed out."
Geragos — who is also representing accused double murderer Scott Peterson — said his client was "greatly outraged" by the child molestation accusations.
"He's come back specifically to confront these charges head on," said Geragos. "He is greatly outraged by the bringing of these charges. He considers this to be a big lie. He understands the people who are outraged, because if these charges were true, I assure you Michael would be the first to be outraged.
"I'm here to tell you today, Michael has given me the authority to say on his behalf these charges are categorically untrue. He looks forward to getting into a courtroom as opposed to any other forum and confronting these accusations head on."
Jackson was met by authorities at the small Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, where he landed in his private jet from Las Vegas just before 3 p.m. EST (noon PST).
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Anderson said Jackson had turned over his passport when he was taken into custody. He didn't have any further comment.
Jackson flew from North Las Vegas Airport aboard a leased jet late Thursday morning, according to an employee of XtraJet, a Santa Monica leasing company.
The jet carried Jackson, his family and a bodyguard and parked in a hangar after landing so that passengers disembarking were hidden from view.
Geragos reached a deal with authorities earlier Thursday concerning terms of the singer's surrender.
"I have made arrangements with the sheriff and the district attorney for Mr. Jackson to come back and confront these charges," Geragos told The Associated Press.
Reports of a Thursday surrender had been circulating since the previous night.
The 12-year-old cancer patient at the center of the Michael Jackson child molestation scandal may have confessed to his psychiatrist that the pop singer plied him with wine and sleeping pills when he allegedly molested him, sources told Foxnews.com's Roger Friedman.
Sources also told Friedman that Jackson's camp has been preparing to face such accusations for months.
They plan to hold the boy's mother up to severe scrutiny, and will likely argue that when Jackson tried to end his financial support of the boy and his family, the mother became, quoting a Jackson insider, "a scorned woman."
"She's very screwed up," said one source. "There's videotape of her acting weird, too. And Michael was very kind to her, even getting an apartment for her boyfriend."
The Jackson team's argument will be, according to sources, that when the boy's mother was told by Jackson's people that the free ride was over, she ran to a lawyer.
The "King of Pop" amassed a half-billion-dollar fortune over the past 20 years, but his former financial advisers said in a lawsuit last spring that he is saddled with debt and teetering near bankruptcy. Current financial advisers have denied that claim.
But another source told Fox News that the boy's family wasn't looking for any monetary settlement but instead wanted justice served through the court system. The family was said to be in seclusion, according to the source.
A family friend, Steve Manning, told a morning television news show Thursday that Jackson's family came to Las Vegas to support him.
"He feels he's been wrongly accused and he's going to fight this tooth and nail," Manning said. "He's at war right now and he's going to use any weapon he has to fight these charges."
His arrest warrant set bail at $3 million and Jackson was directed to give up his passport, authorities said.
The singer was in Las Vegas when dozens of law enforcement agents swarmed his Neverland Ranch compound Tuesday to serve a search warrant. The raid lasted more than 14 hours.
Search warrants were also served at two California film and video companies; still photographs and videotape of Jackson with children were found, Fox News learned.
During the searches, Jackson was filming a music video with R&B singer R. Kelly (search), US Weekly magazine told Fox News on Wednesday.
Jackson is charged by the state with lewd or lascivious acts with a child under age 14, punishable by three to eight years in prison, law enforcement officials said.
"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."
This is the second child molestation accusation brought against the pop singer in the past decade. The earlier charge, in 1993, was dropped when the 13-year-old boy refused to testify. Jackson maintained his innocence but reportedly paid a $20 million settlement the following year and the case became inactive.
Since then — and because of that case specifically — the law in California has changed regarding young victims of sexual abuse. Now they can be forced to testify. In this case, the victim is cooperating with authorities, according to Sneddon.
He added that multiple counts would be filed against Jackson "in a very short period of time" and noted that no civil case had been filed and none was expected, unlike in 1993.
Earlier Wednesday, authorities said they were negotiating Jackson's surrender with his lawyers, which Anderson said must happen within "a specified period of time." He declined to say how long that would be.
"I believe he's willing to cooperate with us," the sheriff said.
The arrest warrant is for a violation of Section 288(a) of the California Penal Code (search), which prohibits lewd or lascivious acts with a child under age 14, according to Sneddon.
If convicted, Jackson could face three to eight years for a single count of molestation, and two years each for any subsequent count.
Fox News' Catherine Donaldson-Evans, Roger Friedman, Trace Gallagher, Marla Lehner, Anita Vogel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.