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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 19:36 GMT
Jackson urged to give himself up
Fans have left messages of support outside Neverland
Fans have left messages of support outside Neverland
Police have ordered pop star Michael Jackson to give himself up and face an arrest warrant and multiple charges of child abuse.

The singer has been set an undisclosed deadline to turn himself in to Santa Barbara police in California.

Jackson family solicitor Brian Oxman, who does not directly represent the singer, said he would choose his own time and place to turn himself in.

Mr Jackson's spokesman called the allegations "scurrilous and unfounded".

"The outrageous allegations against Michael Jackson are false. Michael would never harm a child in any way," the spokesman, Stuart Backerman, said.

Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon
I can assure you that within a very short period of time, multiple counts will be filed
Tom Sneddon
District attorney

They would be proved false in a court of law, he said.

Mr Oxman said the singer and his solicitor were working on the timing of his surrender to police in California.

"They will choose their own time and their own place to do this," Mr Oxman told US TV programme The Early Show.

He added: "It will be designed to be as quick as possible from their own perspective."

Mr Jackson is believed to have flown from Nevada to California and police in Santa Barbara have started to prepare for his arrival.

A police spokesman told reporters: "He has indicated he wants to co-operate with law enforcement and this process. That remains to be seen at this moment."

Friends of the star who spoke with him in Las Vegas said he was ready to fight the charges.

"He feels he's been wrongly accused and he is going to fight this tooth and nail," said Steve Manning, a friend of the singer.

Santa Barbara sheriff Jim Anderson encouraged Mr Jackson to get into touch with police.

He said: "We encourage him to turn himself in."

Bail has been set at $3m (1.75m), he said.

TV crews in Las Vegas
TV crews have been hoping to see Mr Jackson leave Las Vegas
And Santa Barbara district attorney Tom Sneddon said: "At this point in time, Mr Jackson has been given an opportunity to surrender himself... within a specified period of time."

The singer was accused of "lewd or lascivious acts" with a child younger than 14 under section 288(a) of the California penal code, he said.

About 70 police officers searched Mr Jackson's ranch, Neverland, on Tuesday, looking for "evidence that would corroborate the victim's statements," Sheriff Anderson said.

"We encourage the public to come forward if they have any information to lead us to believe there are other victims in the community," he added.

Mr Jackson has been in Las Vegas filming the video for his new single, One More Chance, for the last three weeks.

Fans gathered outside his studio in the city on Wednesday to offer their support.

Impact of allegations
Michael Jackson

"I don't care what anyone says, I still don't believe it. I know in my heart that it's not true," said one supporter, Donna Green.

Another fan, Howard Cox, said: "MJ is the kindest person in the world. He's done more than anyone to try to change the world and make the world a better place."

Fans also left messages of support outside Neverland.

The investigation is being led by Mr Sneddon, who also looked into similar allegations 10 years ago.

Mr Jackson denied those claims and no charges were ever filed, but the singer made a multi-million dollar out-of-court settlement.

In this case, Mr Jackson could face up to eight years in prison per count of abuse.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Robert Nisbet
"Michael Jackson's trials are only just beginning"



SEE ALSO:
Jackson to be charged with abuse
20 Nov 03  |  Americas
Jackson's mystery ranch
19 Nov 03  |  Entertainment
Profile: Michael Jackson
18 Nov 03  |  Entertainment
Who speaks for Michael Jackson?
19 Nov 03  |  Entertainment
Michael Jackson's ranch searched
19 Nov 03  |  Entertainment
Singer Jackson whipped by father
13 Nov 03  |  Entertainment


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