Michael Jackson, addressing his fans directly via a new Web site, says the child molestation allegations made against him are “predicated on a big lie” and he will be exonerated in court.
THE ENTERTAINER’S spokesman, Stuart Backerman, had said last week that Jackson was putting the site together so he could communicate with the news media and fans. Jackson said in his statement that it would serve as a source for “official communications on my case.”
“As you know, the charges recently directed at me are terribly serious,” Jackson said in the six-paragraph statement. “They are, however, predicated on a big lie. This will be shown in court, and we will be able to put this horrible time behind us.”
Jackson surrendered to Santa Barbara County authorities on Thursday after an arrest warrant was issued alleging he committed lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14.
He was released on $3 million bail. Authorities have said they expect to file formal charges sometime after Thanksgiving.
Jackson said his attorneys have advised him to say little about the matter until it is resolved.
“No doubt, this will be frustrating for all of us,” he added.
He also urged people to be skeptical of those representing themselves as his friends or claiming to speak for him.
“With few exceptions most of them are simply filling a desperate void in our culture that equates visibility with insight,” he said. “We will not engage in speculation. We will not provide running commentary on every new development or allegation du jour. We intend to try our case in the courtroom, not in the public or the media.”
Meanwhile, actress Elizabeth Taylor broke her silence about the accusations, defending her close friend and blasting the media.
“I believe Michael is innocent and that he will be vindicated,” Taylor said Sunday in a statement released through her publicist.
Taylor had previously refused to speak to the media about the charges against Jackson, who hosted Taylor’s 1991 wedding to construction worker Larry Fortensky at Neverland.
Meantime, there were rallies from Los Angeles to Toronto to Rome over the weekend, but each typically drew just a few dozen fans. Vigils were planned over the weekend in more than a dozen cities, and others were to follow in China and Australia.
In Los Angeles, about 25 supporters gathered at Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater. They chanted “Michael’s innocent!” and set candles in the shape of a heart around the star.
Faisal Malik, 29, a Los Angeles fan who helped organize the gathering, said he believes the performer is innocent.
“No other entertainer ever has opened his house so much to people,” Malik said in a telephone interview. “True charity comes from the heart.”
“He’s the most famous person in the world, and they make someone a god and then they try to tear them down,” said Arus Tashchyan, 18, of Montebello, who wore a black felt hat and a sequined glove, a style that Jackson made famous.
‘IT’S REALLY HARD FOR US’
In Paris, about 60 fans gathered on the Champs Elysees and marched through crowds of shoppers to the Arc de Triomphe. They held candles and banners with slogans of support and sang “We Are the World,” the 1985 African famine relief anthem written by Jackson and Lionel Richie.
“It’s really hard for us,” said Pascale Hatot, a 37-year-old fan from the suburbs of Paris. “I haven’t been able to sleep or eat for three days.”
Supporters in Rome gathered at the foot of the Spanish Steps just after darkness fell. They held candles and a sign in Italian that read: “Michael: Accused but not guilty!”
“There is an interest to see him fall as a man and as an artist,” said Fabrizio Basili, a 30-year-old man from Rome who wore a black shirt bearing the image of Jackson’s face. “His album ’Number Ones’ came out with some of his great hits, and the same day the accusations came and this is why we’re suspicious.”
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