Jackson Case: Will Others Face Charges?
05/03/2004 at 02:00 PM EDT
The legal web that entangles Michael Jackson could grow even wider, as one of the 10 counts handed down in Friday's indictment against the star included conspiracy -- which could likely lead to indictments against those who might have conspired with him to commit the crimes of abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
Jackson, 45, pleaded not guilty to the new conspiracy charge, as well as charges of child molestation, false imprisonment and extortion. Also on the list: four counts of lewd acts involving a minor child, one count involving an attempted lewd act upon a child and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent. His next court date is May 28.
The grand jury indictment said Jackson conspired with "other uncharged co-conspirators," reports the Associated Press, but Judge Rodney S. Melville ordered parts of the indictment identifying them to be removed before it was publicly released.
The conspiracy count alleged 28 individual overt acts involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. The defense and prosecutors declined to say Friday who else may be arrested.
Compared to the showbiz antics that accompanied the star's January court appearance (when he moonwalked for fans outside the courthouse), a bespectacled Jackson was subdued at Friday's appearance, arriving for the arraignment 40 minutes early and wearing a dark jacket with a gold crest on its pocket.
After the indictment was issued, Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau told reporters that the case is "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."
Meanwhile, Jackson, appearing cheerful and upbeat, said, "I would like to thank the fans around the world for your love and support." He also thanked his "incredible family, and the community of Santa Maria. I love the community of Santa Maria very much, it's my community ... my home is in this community, my children were born in this community."
He added: "I love the people. I will always love the people."