Jackson evidence begins

by KATIE HAMPSON, Daily Mail online

Last updated at 10:37 30 March 2004

A grand jury in the United States has started hearing evidence against accused King of Pop Michael Jackson.

The 19 jurors were hearing child sex abuse allegations against the 45-year-old Thriller star and will decide whether he should stand trial.

Authorities in California are going to great lengths to protect the jurors' identities and to keep their deliberations secret.

They will be constantly on the move, to dodge the scores of members of the media swarming around the case.

The grand jurors will begin hearing the case against Jackson at a court house in Santa Barbara, California, where the pop star appeared in January to plead not guilty to the charges.

The proceedings will then be moved from location-to-location, around the county, it is understood.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Sergeant Chris Pappas said police would "do what it takes to maintain the integrity of the process".

If the grand jury decides to indict Jackson on the charges he could be on trial by the end of the year.

It is believed that the grand jury will hear evidence from the teenage cancer survivor who has made the latest claims against Jackson.

It is also reported that the boy's brother will appear before the panel, as well as another boy who accused Jackson of abuse in 1993.

That case never came to trial and the accuser accepted a multi-million pound civil payout.

Jackson was invited to present a defence to the grand jury, but his lawyers said he would not appear yet.

Jackson has denied seven counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under age 14, and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to the child, reportedly wine.

Jackson is expected to appear in Washington on Thursday to receive a humanitarian award for his charity work in Africa.

  • Music channel VH1 is planning a movie telling the story of Jackson's recent troubles.

    The film will follow Jackson's life from the height of his fame, to his present-day difficulties.

    Directors are currently casting actors to play Jackson, family members and others who featured in his life.

    A date is yet to be announced for the film.

  • No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

    We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

    Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now