Michael Jackson formally charged with child molestation

MUMBAI: A nine-count criminal complaint was formally filed yesterday against pop icon Michael Jackson. The case concerns him allegedly molesting a cancer patient. Alcohol was apparently given to the boy who resides in Los Angeles.

A report in China's online publication Xinhuanet states that the lawsuit, filed by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon, accused Jackson of seven counts of child molestation and two counts of administering an intoxicating liquor to a child for the purpose of committing a felony.

On 16 January, an arraignment will take place. Right now the singer is free on a $3 million bail that he posted last month after surrendering to the Santa Barbara Sheriffs Department. If convicted, Jackson could face three to eight years on each account of child molestation charge according to California laws.

Meanwhile, a Copley News Service report indicates that the incident allegedly occurred in February and March at Jackson's fairytale-like Neverland Ranch. Jackson's lawyer has denounced the allegations.

While the documents provided no details of the alleged crimes they are believed to involve a boy who had his spleen and one kidney removed because of stomach cancer and was given three weeks to live when he first asked to meet Jackson a couple of years ago. The boy, who spent nights at Jackson's ranch in Santa Barbara County was allegedly given wine. All this was seen in a television documentary in February. He was holding Jackson's hand while the singer defended his practice of sharing his bedroom with children.

Jackson's mother Katherine issued a statement saying, "We will fight with every ounce of our energy to reveal the truth behind these false allegations and the motivations behind those who have falsely accused Michael." What could complicate matters is the fact that the boy's family has a troubled background. His father pleaded no contest to child cruelty last year and to spousal abuse in 2001 for allegedly beating the boy's mother. The couple are now divorced.

An AP report has stated that that the most serious of the crimes Jackson is accused of are alleged to have happened after the accuser's mother signed an affidavit and videotaped a statement swearing that nothing improper had happened with her son.

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