Jackson surrenders, booked on child molestation charge

— Trailed by a phalanx of TV cameras, a handcuffed Michael Jackson was booked on suspicion of child molestation Thursday after arriving by private jet to face charges that could finish off his already declining career and send him to prison for years.

The self-styled "King of Pop" immediately posted $3 million bail and waved to reporters and flashed a V-sign before leaving the Santa Barbara County Jail in a black Suburban escorted by three sheriff's motorcycle officers.

"He's come back specifically to confront these charges head-on," defense attorney Mark Geragos said. "He is greatly outraged by the bringing of these charges. He considers this to be a big lie."

"Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons," Jackson added in a statement issued by a spokesman. "The truth will win this marathon in court."

With Jackson's riches and global fame, the advent of 24-hour cable news channels, and the rise of TV cameras in the courtroom, the allegations set the stage for what would be one of the most sensational celebrity court cases the world has seen.

Authorities released no details of the case beyond a warrant accusing the 45-year-old Jackson of multiple counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14, an offense punishable by three to eight years in prison.

But news reports have said the child was a 12- or 13-year-old boy who visited Jackson at his Neverland Ranch, a storybook playland where the singer was known to hold sleepovers for children and share his bed with youngsters.

Jackson returned to California from Las Vegas, where he was making a video, a day after authorities announced a warrant for his arrest had been issued.

Jackson's leased jet landed at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport and rolled its nose into a hangar before those aboard stepped out. A law enforcement convoy took him to the main county jail, where the handcuffed singer, wearing a black coat and pants with a white shirt and white tie, was escorted inside and booked for investigation of child molestation.

Jackson's brother Jermaine denounced the allegations in a CNN interview as "nothing but a modern-day lynching."

"This is what they want to see: him in handcuffs. You got it. But it won't be for long, I promise you," Jermaine Jackson said.

Dist. Atty. Thomas W. Sneddon Jr. said Jackson's warrant soon would be followed by the filing of charges. Jackson was given a Jan. 9 arraignment date.

Jackson dominated pop music in the 1980s but was damaged by a similar molestation allegation in 1993. But no charges were ever filed.

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