Pop star Michael Jackson, bristling at photographers “lurking behind bushes” at his rented Florida mansion following his indictment, pleaded with the media Friday to leave him alone.
Jackson, in seclusion at the 12-bedroom central Florida estate of time-share magnate David Siegel while he awaits an arraignment, asked for privacy in a written statement posted on his Web site.
“As I release this statement there are helicopters hovering above my residence, reporters staking out and photographers lurking behind bushes, running rampant around my compound,” Jackson said.
“I am respectfully requesting that media organizations please respect my privacy and that of my children,” he said. “I greatly appreciate your cooperation.”
Charges a ‘big lie’?The 45-year-old entertainer was indicted on Wednesday by a Santa Barbara County grand jury investigating accusations that he molested a young boy.
Because Santa Barbara County prosecutors went to great lengths to keep the grand jury secret and the indictment was sealed, little is known about the exact nature of the charges.
But the grand jury was known to be probing the same accusations that led to charges against Jackson last December: seven counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 and two counts of plying the boy with alcohol in order to seduce him.
Jackson pleaded innocent to those charges, calling them a “big lie,” and his lawyers have said he will prove his innocence to the indictment in court. He is expected to enter a ”not guilty” plea at a court hearing on April 30.
Also on Friday news organizations covering the case, joined by Jackson’s lawyers, asked the California Supreme Court to strike down a strict “gag” order imposed on the parties by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville.
“The protective order bars those who are most knowledgeable about a criminal case that has garnered intense public interest from speaking to the public about the case, cutting off the best sources of truthful, timely information,” the media attorneys said in a written petition.
Reporters have chafed at the extraordinary secrecy employed by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon in the Jackson case, which has kept almost all of the evidence out of the public eye.
The four attorneys representing Jackson in the case sent a letter to the California Supreme Court that they joined in the petition and would file a brief early next week.