Friday, December 19, 2003
Santa Maria, Calif. Michael Jackson was formally charged Thursday with repeatedly molesting a cancer-stricken boy invited to his Neverland Ranch, setting the stage for what could become one of the most sensational celebrity cases this Internet-wired, 24-hour-cable world has seen.
The nine-count felony complaint charged Jackson with seven counts alleging lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent. The molestation charges each carry between three and eight years in prison.
No details of the alleged acts were included in the complaint, which repeatedly stated they were committed "with the intent of arousing, appealing to, and gratifying the lust, passions, and sexual desires" of Jackson and the child.
The complaint further alleged that Jackson had "substantial sexual conduct" with the child in February and March.
The charges come nearly a month after authorities raided Jackson's Neverland Ranch and arrested him days later on suspicion of child molestation. He has been free on $3 million bail.
Sneddon agreed to delay Jackson's arraignment a week to Jan. 16 and return Jackson's passport to allow him to travel to Britain from Dec. 20 to Jan. 6.