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Pop Superstar Michael Jackson to Appear in Court Friday - 2004-01-16


Pop superstar Michael Jackson appears in a California court Friday, where he is expected to plead not guilty to child molestation charges.

Hundreds of fans are arriving at the town of Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County to show their support for the "King of Pop," who is scheduled to be arraigned. The music star faces seven felony counts for allegedly committing lewd acts on a teenage boy, as well as two counts of using an intoxicant to seduce the boy.

He has maintained he is innocent since prosecutors brought the charges against him two months ago. Mr. Jackson has been free on $3 million in bail since his arrest.

If convicted, he could face several years in prison. On Thursday, the 45-year-old pop star's lawyer announced Mr. Jackson was adding another attorney to his defense team.

The news media have swarmed around the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, but will not be allowed inside the court room during the proceedings. The area has been described as circus-like, with parking spaces selling for $250 and locals setting up mobile businesses to cater to the crowds.

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