Jackson's Neverland raided

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

— Officers conducting a criminal investigation on Tuesday searched Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. The purpose of the raid was not disclosed.

Court TV cited unidentified sources as saying the search warrant was tied to sexual-abuse allegations brought by a 12- or 13-year-old boy. Sheriff's officials and the district attorney's office refused comment.

Jackson spokesman Stuart Backerman also refused to comment on any allegations and said neither he nor Jackson knew the details of the investigation.

Sixty to 70 investigators from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's and district attorney's offices served a warrant as part of an "ongoing criminal investigation," Sgt. Chris Pappas said. No immediate arrests were made.

Backerman said Jackson and his three young children were not at the ranch at the time and have been in Las Vegas, where Jackson is making a video.

Jackson denounced media coverage of the search in a statement released by Backerman to The Associated Press.

"I've seen lawyers who don't represent me and spokespeople who do not know me speaking for me. These characters always seem to surface with dreadful allegations just as another project, an album, a video is being released," the statement said.

The 45-year-old singer who had international hits with the albums "Thriller" (1982), "Bad" (1987) and "Dangerous" (1991) saw his career begin to collapse in 1993 amid allegations he molested a boy. Jackson has maintained his innocence, and charges were never filed. He reportedly paid a multimillion-dollar settlement.

Jackson also is connected to Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano, who began serving federal prison time Monday for possessing illegal explosives. Pellicano is under investigation on suspicion he secretly taped conversations of celebrities and their lawyers.


AP Photo

A Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department patrol car is parked across from Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch Railroad Station near Los Olivos, Calif. Officers conducting a criminal investigation searched the ranch Tuesday. The purpose of the search was not disclosed. The station is a replica of the train station at Disneyland.

Pellicano, 59, worked for Jackson as a spokesman and security consultant during the abuse investigation.

The search came on the same day Epic Records released "Number Ones," a greatest hits collection.