In an interview with FOX News' Geraldo Rivera, Michael Jackson (search) talked about his upbringing, why he created the Neverland ranch and his passion for helping children. He ended the conversation with a statement that he would be cleared of molestation charges.
The King of Pop spoke of his parents in glowing terms, saying he drew much of his strength from his father's example.
"I'm very much like my father in a lot of ways," Jackson said. "He's very strong, he's a warrior, he always tries to be courageous and confident and believes in our ideals."
As for his mother, Jackson said he was thankful she passed on her religious belief to him when he was a child.
"Mom took me to church," he said. "I'm so glad we did that because those values are so important. I don't think I could have done as well without that."
The interview was Jackson's first since he was indicted by a grand jury last April on charges of molesting a boy and plying him with alcohol. Jackson's lawyers and prosecutors are scheduled to begin questioning potential jurors in the trial Monday.
Jackson stands accused of molesting a boy whom he allowed to spend the night at his Neverland ranch (search), where the alleged abuse took place. In his statement at the end of the interview, Jackson said he would not be scheduling any more sleepovers.
"I never intend to place myself in so vulnerable position again," he said.
Jackson also said that his celebrity status made him a target for prosecutors because he was a well-known figure, and that news reports about him are "fiction."
"The bigger the star, the bigger the target. I'm not trying to say I'm the super-duper star, I'm not saying that," Jackson said in the interview, which was taped two weeks ago. "I'm saying the fact that people come at celebrities, we're targets. But truth always prevails. I believe in that."
The singer was barred by a gag order from talking about the molestation charges he faces.
Taking Refuge in Neverland
Jackson said in the interview that he designed Neverland as a place where he could enjoy the childhood activities he missed while he was a child star
"I created Neverland as a home for myself and my children ... it gave me a chance to do what I couldn't do when I was little," Jackson said. "We couldn't go to movie theaters. We couldn't go to Disneyland. We couldn't do all those fun things. We were on tour. We were working hard.
"And we did enjoy it," Jackson said. "But this allowed me to have a place behind the gates where the entire world I love is there ... other men have their Ferraris and their airplanes or helicopter or wherever they find their bliss. My bliss is in giving and sharing and having simple innocent fun."
Jackson said Neverland also provides a happy place for inner-city children "who haven't seen the mountains, who haven't been on a carousel, who haven't pet a horse or a llama."
"So if I can open my gates and see that bliss, an explosion of screaming laughter from the children and they run on the rides, I say 'Thank you, God,'" Jackson said. "I feel I won God's smile of approval, because I'm doing something that brings joy and happiness to other people."
Jackson also talked about the rapper Eminem (search), who mocked the King of Pop in his video for "Just Lose It." In the video, Eminem impersonates Jackson, appearing with a group of boys in the background. "Come here, little kiddie, on my lap. Guess who's back with a brand new rap," he rhymes.
Jackson said he had always admired "Mr. Eminem," but thought the rapper should be ashamed.
"I've been an artist most of my life and I've never attacked a fellow artist," Jackson said. "Great artists don't do that. You don't have to do that."
He also defended his sister Janet's "wardrobe malfunction" at last year's Super Bowl.
"Actually, I was looking right at it and I didn't see it ... (I told her to) be strong. This too shall pass. Don't worry about it. I've seen worse things."
Due to a gag order, Jackson cannot speak about the allegations, the accusers or the leaks in specific terms, but he was allowed by the judge to read a prepared statement at the end of his interview with Geraldo.
"I love my community and I have great faith in our justice system," Jackson said at the end of the statement. "Please keep an open mind and let me have my day in court. I deserve a fair trial like every other American citizen. I will be acquitted and vindicated when the truth is told."
Meanwhile, Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, told FOX News' Rita Cosby that she knows her son is innocent.
"The man they call the bull dog or the mad dog ... he's on a witch hunt," she said, referring to Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.