Michael Jackson was arraigned Friday in a Santa Maria, California, courtroom after a grand jury handed down a ten-count indictment, including four counts of committing lewd acts upon a minor.
The grand jury’s proceedings were held in early to mid-April and were supposed to be confidential, though last week word leaked that the grand jury planned to indict the pop star. The proceeding was convened as a way of determining whether there was sufficient evidence to send Jackson’s case to trial and to avoid a public pre-trial hearing.
In addition to the lewd act accusations, Jackson was also charged with one count of attempting to commit a lewd act on a minor and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent. Also included in the indictment is a charge of conspiracy to commit child abduction that includes accusations of extortion and false imprisonment.
Jackson pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Though Jackson and his attorneys were able to review the entire indictment, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville ordered that only portions be released to the public.
Jackson was arrested last November, and in January he pleaded not guilty to seven charges of committing lewd acts on a child and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent. Jackson’s accuser was among the witnesses who testified before the grand jury. The charges in the indictment will take the place of those initially filed.
Hundreds of Jackson’s supporters waited for him outside the courthouse and cheered upon his arrival, more than a half-hour early, a contrast to his tardy arrival at a January hearing that earned a reprimand from a judge. Earlier in the day, the Keep the Faith Caravan bussed fans from Los Angeles to Santa Maria, free of charge.
It was Jackson’s first court appearance with new counsel. Earlier this week he announced that defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. would be taking over for Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman, both of whom were also working other on pending cases.
Jackson remains free on $3 million bail.