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Police Issue Arrest Warrant for Pop Star Michael Jackson - 2003-11-19

Authorities in California have issued an arrest warrant for singer Michael Jackson following allegations of child molestation. The 45-year-old singer faced similar allegations 10 years ago, but authorities say this case is different.

Tuesday, 70 investigators searched Michael Jackson's sprawling Santa Barbara ranch for more than 12 hours, while others sought evidence at two other locations.

“The service of the warrants was part of an ongoing investigation alleging criminal misconduct on the part of Michael Jackson,” said Jim Anderson, sheriff of Santa Barbara County. “The basis for this investigation regarding Mr. Jackson involves allegations of child molestation, 288(a) of the California penal code.”

That section of the law deals with the molestation of children under the age of 14. Authorities say the singer will face multiple charges, but did not release other details.

However, news outlets are citing reports from unidentified sources that the charges involve a boy of 12 or 13, who revealed the allegations to a therapist.

Bail for the singer was set at three million dollars. His family said Michael Jackson was in Las Vegas, and authorities say his lawyers were negotiating his surrender.

In 1994, pop star reached a multi-million-dollar settlement with the family of a young teenager who also accused him of sexual molestation. No criminal charges were filed and the singer denied the allegations.

The earlier accuser refused to testify in a criminal trial. As a result of that case, state law has since been changed and accusers are now required to testify in court.

Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon says the two cases are very different.

“There were never any charges brought in that investigation, no warrant issued,” he said. “There is a warrant outstanding [in this case] and I can assure you that within a very short period of time, there will be charges filed against Mr. Jackson, multiple counts.”

One of the singer's fans does not believe the charges. “I think it's wrong,” he said. “They keep after that boy, every time he makes a little money, they come after him again.”

Another Los Angeles resident thinks the charges may be valid. “I was skeptical the first time around, just not sure what was really happening,” he said. “But the second time around, it really makes you wonder.”

Each of the multiple counts carries a possible sentence of three to eight years in prison, if the singer is convicted.