Pop star Michael Jackson has pleaded not guilty to a 10-count indictment of child molestation. The allegations include a count of conspiracy.
The conspiracy count, which points to 28 separate acts, alleges extortion, child abduction and false imprisonment of the singer's alleged victim, a young teenager. The indictment also includes four counts of giving an intoxicating agent to a child, four counts of lewd acts upon a child, and one count of an attempted lewd act.
Mr. Jackson's newly appointed lawyer, Thomas Mesereau, entered a plea of "not guilty to all charges" on behalf of his famous client, then spoke briefly with reporters outside the courthouse in Santa Maria, California.
"This case is not about lawyers or anyone else becoming celebrities," he said. "This defense is going to be conducted with professionalism and dignity at all times. This case is about one thing only. It's about the dignity, the integrity, the decency, the honor, the charity, the innocence, and the complete vindication of a wonderful human being named Michael Jackson."
The singer was more subdued Friday than he was at his court appearance in January. Then, the judge scolded him for arriving late at court, and Jackson later danced for his fans on the top of a vehicle. This time, he arrived 40 minutes early.
Outside the courthouse Friday, he briefly thanked his family and supporters.
"I would like to thank the fans around the world for your love and your support from every corner of the earth," Michael Jackson said.
Friday's indictment was issued in secret in early April, following testimony before a grand jury. Less than a week before the indictment, the singer fired his two high-profile lawyers and hired Mr. Mesereau.