Jackson pleads not guilty

Pop superstar Michael Jackson has pleaded not guilty in court to charges of child molestation.

    Hundreds of fans gathered to see the superstar

    Though the pop icon's court appearance on Friday was brief, it was never short of drama. The judge "scolded" the star for being late, after being apparently held up by screaming fans who had gathered outside.

    Later, a foot-tapping Jackson climbed on to the roof of his car to wave to ecstatic fans, marking the high point of a feverish circus unfolding alongside the court appearance.

    "Mr Jackson, you have started out on the wrong foot with me. I want to advise you I will not put up with that. It is an insult to the court," Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville said as the court gathered 20 minutes behind schedule.

    The singer was asked whether he understood the charges –seven counts of child molestation and two of giving a child "an intoxicating agent" - and Jackson then entered a plea of "not guilty" to all.

    The superstar is accused of sexually abusing a 14-year old child.

    Chaotic scenes

    Jackson arrived late for the arraignment and chaotic scenes outside the building further delayed him getting into the Santa Maria court in California.

    Jackson's departure was as chaotic and boisterous with fans pressing in to have a closer glimpse of the international star. Jackson invited fans to go to a party at his Neverland ranch.

    The judge ordered the lawyers not to comment on the court proceedings, but Jackson's counsel blamed the media and fans for the delays.

    "Mr Jackson, you have started out on the wrong foot with me. I want to advise you I will not put up with that. It is an insult to the court"

    Rodney Melville
    Superior Court Judge

    "We regret that he was late this morning," Benjamin Brafman said. "We will see to it that does never happen again and we apologised to the court for that inconvenience."

    Family

    Dressed in a dark suit and sunglasses and a white armband, Jackson was accompanied by his pop-singer sister Janet. His brother Jermaine and parents Joe and Katherine arrived earlier.

    Jackson was arrested on 20 November following a police raid on his ranch.

    He has since launched a vigorous defence, insisting that the charges against him are a "big lie."


    On 13 February, the court will set a preliminary hearing date.

    But Jackson-fans have already concluded that the pop superstar is innocent. A huge banner in the street declared "Michael Jackson is Innocent."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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