The Santa Barbara sheriff's department issued its strongest and most detailed refutation to date of Michael Jackson's claims that he was brutalized during his booking on child molestation charges in November. ''He was in no way manhandled or abused,'' sheriff Jim Anderson said at a televised press conference on Wednesday. ''I'm shocked and troubled by his allegations,'' said Anderson, who played video and audiotapes that appeared to support Anderson's contention that Jackson's arrest and cuffing were painless. He added that the California attorney general's office would investigate Jackson's claims, and if they were found to be without merit, he would recommend that Jackson face criminal charges of false report of police misconduct.
During his ''60 Minutes'' interview on Sunday, Jackson had showed a photograph of a bruise between his wrist and elbow that he said had been caused by the handcuffs and said police had dislocated his shoulder. He also said that, at the station, he'd been locked in a bathroom smeared with ''doo-doo, feces'' for 45 minutes. Anderson played a videotape that appeared to show police gently cuffing the singer on his wrists. He also played an audiotape, which he said was made during Jackson's ride to the station, in which the singer said he felt ''fine'' and ''wonderful'' and whistled and sang to himself. Anderson said the holding cell bathroom had been cleaned that morning, and that Jackson spent no more than 15 minutes there out of the 63 minutes he spent at the station. Upon his departure, Jackson waved to fans, which Anderson said was ''inconsistent with Mr. Jackson's claims of injury.'' Concluded Anderson, ''I think Mr. Jackson has seriously hurt his credibility.''
The dispute over Jackson's alleged mistreatment is only one of the controversies arising from the ''60 Minutes'' interview. Another is the allegation, made by a Jackson business partner, that CBS paid the singer $1 million, on top of the $5 million it had promised him for his music special scheduled for Friday night, in return for agreeing to sit down with Ed Bradley, who'd been trying for a year to land a Jackson interview. ''CBS News doesn't pay for interviews,'' a network spokesperson told the New York Times. But the Jackson colleague said of CBS that ''in essence they paid him'' for the interview, ''but they didn't pay him out of the '60 Minutes' budget; they paid him from the entertainment budget, and CBS just shifts around the money internally. That way '60 Minutes' can say '60 Minutes' didn't pay for the interview.''