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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 10:30 GMT
Pressure grows on Michael Jackson
BBC correspondent Daniela Relph
By Daniela Relph
BBC correspondent in Santa Barbara

The clamour for information on Michael Jackson's whereabouts is intense.

Santa Barbara sheriff's department is surrounded by the curious: the news reporters, the entertainment journalists, and America's growing band of talk show legal pundits - all offering their take on the latest problems to strike Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson, pictured in 1993
Jackson has been plagued by accusations
The police say they have multiple allegations of child abuse they want to put to Michael Jackson.

The district attorney will not reveal the identity of the accuser, but he says the child is a co-operative victim willing to give evidence.

Michael Jackson has lived his whole life in public - a child star whose adult life has been plagued with problems: the family rows, the plastic surgery, the obsession with childhood, and the allegations of abuse which first surfaced nine years ago.

Then, no criminal charges were brought but this time detectives say charges are imminent.

Prison fears

Journalist Diane Dimond has been following the case for a decade and says this is by far the most serious situation Michael Jackson has faced.

"Physically he is a very frail man and if indeed he is taken to jail for however long a time and having to await a trial, I fear for the impact on his health."

Fans show support for Michael Jackson in Las Vegas
Jackson's fans are standing by their idol
Michael Jackson's fans are loyal.

They believe he is a victim in this case, targeted because of his fame and generosity.

Close to the sheriff's headquarters, lifelong fan Maria Carreo stood holding a placard of support.

It read: 'My kids love you.'

She said: "I feel sad that this public humiliation has to happen again. I mean, it's been numerous times already.

"I'm just waiting for a response from Michael Jackson. I am encouraging him to turn himself in and just keep faith and everything will be fine."

Michael Jackson's lawyers have issued a robust defence of their client.

They say the accusations against him are scurrilous and false and say their client would never harm a child.

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