Tardy Jackson Pleads Not Guilty

01/16/2004 AT 01:51 PM EST

Greeted by hundreds of fans and a swarm of reporters and photographers, Michael Jackson, sporting sunglasses and a white armband on his black suit, arrived 20 minutes late for his arraignment Friday in Santa Maria, Calif., before pleading not guilty to charges of child molestation.

The judge in Jackson's case scolded the pop star for his tardiness. "Mr. Jackson, you have started out on the wrong foot here. ... I want to advise you that I will not put up with that. It's an insult to the court," Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville said, according to the Associated Press.

The jurist then read aloud the nine charges against the star, who quietly answered with his not guilty plea, said the news service. Jackson is charged with seven counts of committing lewd acts on a boy under the age of 14 and two counts of plying him with alcohol.

Jackson, 45, arrived at the courthouse shortly after 8:30 a.m. PT. Despite the sunny weather, the pop star was shielded by an umbrella as he walked through a crowd of hundreds of supporters (many of whom had trekked from Los Angeles via what Jermaine Jackson had called a "Caravan of Love") and members of nearly every major media outlet in the world.

Also there to support Jackson were family members including his parents, older brother Jermaine Jackson and younger sister Janet Jackson -- who had previously kept a low profile when it came to Michael's criminal charges.

After he left the courtroom more than two hours later, Jackson climbed to the top of his SUV, so he could wave and blow kisses to his fans -- as a cameraman standing at Jackson's side recorded his actions, as if shooting a documentary.

After the grandstand, his attorney Benjamin Brafman told CNN that the action was spontaneous and represented "an outpouring of love on both sides."

Jackson, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence, is expected to face a preliminary hearing on the charges later this year.

Meanwhile, NBC News also reported Friday morning that Santa Barbara Country District Attorney Thomas Sneddon intends to bring the accuser from the 1993 case against Jackson into this new case to testify, in order to show an alleged pattern in Jackson's behavior. In 1993, Jackson reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with his then-young accuser.

Even before Friday morning's formal arraignment, the scene outside the Santa Maria courthouse was being likened to the media circus that surrounded the O.J. Simpson murder trial nearly a decade ago, said the Associated Press. The sense of deja vu was further heightened by the presence of Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark, who is now covering the Jackson case for TV's "Entertainment Tonight."

Other in-the-know news commentators on the scene include Jim Thomas, the former Santa Barbara County sheriff who attempted to bring molestation charges against Jackson 10 years ago. He has signed on to do reports for NBC.

On the legal side, Jackson's defense, which is headed by the high-profile Mark Geragos (who is also currently defending accused wife-killer Scott Peterson), expanded Thursday. The new addition is high-priced New York attorney Brafman, one of the lawyers who won an acquittal for Sean "P. Diddy" Combs on bribery and weapons charges in 2001.

Because of Judge Melville's displeasure over Jackson's late arrival, Brafman reportedly did not have the chance to participate in Friday's arraignment.

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