The Michael Jackson Watch

Your guide to pop music's biggest thriller

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Embattled pop star Michael Jackson is scheduled to be arraigned January 9th on multiple counts of child molestation, but the fact is that he still hasn't been officially charged with a crime. Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon expects to wait at least until the week of December 15th to file the charges, to give his office time to finish a Web site on which they can post court documents . . .

In New York City Tuesday, Jermaine Jackson sprinted out of United Nations headquarters when reporters began to pepper him with questions about his brother's case. Jermaine was promoting The Battle of Hope, an AIDS benefit and boxing match featuring Laila Ali scheduled to take place in Nigeria on January 10th . . .

Jackson's defense team, headed by Hollywood attorney Mark Geragos, briefly turned its attention across the Atlantic Ocean this week to request that Italian soccer team Lazio issue a public apology after fans hung banners referring to the case during a game . . . Geragos has also targeted XtraJet, the charter plane service that ferried the singer to Santa Monica for his arrest and booking. During the flight, the airline secretly taped the singer, and then shopped the footage to media outlets . . .

Contradictory rumors are still flying about Jackson's accuser. Russell Halpern, the boy's attorney, has denied reports that his client is seriously ill. Jamie Masada, the owner of the comedy club Laugh Factory who introduced Jackson to the accuser, had earlier said that the boy desperately needs a kidney transplant. Now, the boy's father is reportedly seeking custody of him and his two siblings, citing alleged negligence on the part of the child's mother for letting him share a bed with Jackson. Seventeen-year-old Ahmad Elatab, who befriended Jackson's accuser when the three went on shopping spree at Toys 'R' Us in March, has also chimed in, claiming that the boy told him that the pop star had helped him fight his cancer through meditation . . .

Meanwhile, civil rights activist Dick Gregory continues his fast in support of Jackson, and has asked supporters to join him in prayer every day at noon. "He's a good man," said Gregory, a longtime friend of the singer. "I feel he's an innocent man who has been the target of a conspiracy to destroy his career for a long time" . . .

A letter posted on the Michael Jackson World Network fan page encourages supporters to travel to Santa Barbara on January 9th to protest the charges against Jackson. Jackson's U.S. fan clubs are helping to coordinate accommodations and transportation from LAX to the courthouse for the protest. Pro-Jackson demonstrations are also scheduled for various cities in Germany (December 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th) and Belgium (December 7th) . . .

And in England, the video for Jackson's new single, "One More Chance", was slated to debut on Top of the Pops last weekend, but Jackson's record label yanked the clip at the last minute, saying that it was not ready. The show's producers have not yet decided if they will air the clip when it is completed . . .

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