Michael Jackson surrendered to Santa Barbara Police on Thursday and was booked on multiple counts of child molestation.
Jackson — dressed in a black suit, his hands handcuffed behind him — was swiftly fingerprinted, had his mug shot taken, was notified of the charges and surrendered his passport around 12:30 p.m., just a half hour after his private jet landed at the Santa Barbara Airport.
“Michael is here. He’s come back specifically to confront these charges head on,” said Jackson’s attorney Mark Geragos, speaking to reporters following the singer’s arrest. “He is greatly outraged by the bringing of these charges. He considers this to be a big lie. He understands the people who are outraged, because if these charges were true, I can assure Michael would be the first to be outraged.”
Geragos, who is also defending accused killer Scott Peterson, said Jackson had instructed him to tell the media that the charges against him are “categorically untrue” and that the singer “looks forward to getting into a courtroom as opposed to any other forum and confronting these accusations head on.”
In a surreal scene that rivaled the O.J. Simpson white Bronco chase, hundreds of media were camped out at the Santa Barbara airport in search of the plane carrying Jackson back to California from Las Vegas, where he had been shooting a video for a CBS special that has since been canceled.
The plane arrived shortly before noon and was hustled into a hangar. Once there, the plane taxied halfway into the hangar and the doors were partially shut around the fuselage, allowing Jackson, forty-five, to be arrested as he exited the plane out of view of cameras.
Like the Simpson chase, every major news outlet provided live coverage of the progress of a black SUV as it made its way to the Santa Barbara police station, assuming that Jackson was inside, only to realize that he was in an unmarked police car trailing behind.
Jackson exited the car accompanied by deputies and appeared to lift his hands to display the handcuffs to the cameras as he paused briefly before entering the police station. Jackson’s bail was paid quickly, sparing him from spending time in a holding cell.
At press time, police had still not disclosed how many felony counts of molesting a child under the age of fourteen Jackson had been charged with. Each charge has a penalty of three to eight years in prison. They also did not reveal if the terms of his bail carried any conditions prohibiting him from having contact with children, including his own, who are aged six, five and two.
Jackson, blowing kisses to the cameras, left the sheriff’s office an hour after his booking and was seen returning to the Santa Barbara Airport and apparently boarding his airplane for destinations unknown. His arraignment is scheduled for January 9th.