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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 08:34 GMT
Tom Sneddon: Dogged prosecutor
Tom Sneddon, district attorney of Santa Barbara County in California, is leading the current child abuse prosecution against singer Michael Jackson a decade after a previous case collapsed.

Santa Barbara district attorney Tom Sneddon
Mr Sneddon was also the prosecutor in the last child abuse case
For many who have encountered Tom Sneddon during his 22-year career as Santa Barbara district attorney, he is a tough, tenacious prosecutor who is determined to see justice done.

For Michael Jackson and many of his fans, Mr Sneddon is a zealous man with a vendetta against the star and is determined to send him to jail.

Despite his long service as district attorney, during which he has been unopposed for re-election five times, Mr Sneddon will be remembered for his prosecutions of one of the world's most famous men.

Their paths first crossed in 1993, when Sneddon investigated child abuse allegations brought by 13-year-old Jordan Chandler.

But the case collapsed when Mr Jackson made an out-of-court settlement with the boy, who then declined to testify in court.

Michael Jackson outside court with sisters LaToya (left) and Janet
Michael Jackson has denied the child molestation charges
The song DS on Michael Jackson's 1995 album HIStory is widely believed to be a thinly-veiled attack on his legal adversary.

He sings about how a figure called "Dom Sheldon is a cold man" and how: "They wanna get my ass/Dead or alive/You know he really tried to take me/Down by surprise."

The singer known as the King of Pop and the prosecutor once reportedly nicknamed Mad Dog have now locked horns again.

During a press conference to announce the latest arrest warrant for Mr Jackson in November 2003, the district attorney was criticised for his light-hearted tone.

Despite having since said he did not want the case to become a "circus", he joked with the media at the time: "I hope that you all stay long and spend lots of money, because we need your sales tax to support our offices."

Santa Barbara district attorney Tom Sneddon
Tom Sneddon and wife Pamela have nine children
Asked whether he was pursuing a vendetta, Mr Sneddon replied: "I can tell you it's BS - but that isn't going to change people's observations."

It did not change the view of Mr Jackson, whose lawyers tried to get Mr Sneddon removed from the case because they said he was "motivated by personal animosity" lingering from a decade ago. They failed.

The pop star is Mr Sneddon's most high-profile case, but he has not been afraid to go after prominent society figures in the past, and win.

Now in his early 60s, Mr Sneddon began work after serving in the army in Vietnam and has said the most satisfying thing about his legal career has been "helping people".

A former college boxer, he now coaches youth sports and has nine children of his own.

His wife, Pamela Shires Sneddon, writes about family life for Christian Parenting Today and is the author of books on raising children and how young people see their bodies.


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