It was to CBS News that Michael Jackson first made the accusation late last year that he had been ''manhandled'' by the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department when he was arrested last November on child molestation charges. And it was CBS News that made public on Sunday the report from the California state attorney general's office that cleared the sheriffs of Jackson's abuse allegations.
Jackson had told ''60 Minutes'' that arresting officers had dislocated his shoulder when they cuffed him, and that they had left him in a feces-smeared cell for 45 minutes. But the report found no evidence or witnesses to back Jackson's claims. The report was the result of 2,500 hours of investigation, including unsuccessful attempts to obtain the cooperation of Jackson's camp in testifying or naming potential witnesses. As for whether, as the sheriff's department had suggested, Jackson could be charged with filing a false police report for making ungrounded accusations against the officers, the report said only that the attorney general's office would forward its legal opinion on the matter to the sheriffs. Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. declined to comment on the report, citing the gag order imposed upon him, but he told the Associated Press he might ask the court for permission to comment on it, now that it's been made public.
Jackson is expected in court today, though his presence isn't required, to hear the testimony of Santa Barbara district attorney Thomas Sneddon, subpoenaed by the defense for a pre-trial hearing addressing the question of whether the prosecutor's raid on the office of a private investigator working for Jackson's previous lawyer violated the singer's attorney-client privilege. Sheriffs have said they didn't know the investigator, Bradley Miller, was working for lawyer Mark Geragos when they broke into his office to remove Jackson-related videos and files.
Jackson, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, spent much of Sunday in a surprise visit with 35 children at Los Angeles' First AME Church, the Associated Press reports. He was accompanied by his brother Randy, Mesereau, and comic Steve Harvey. One little girl reportedly asked Jackson if she and the other kids could visit his Neverland ranch. He reportedly answered, ''You're welcome to come anytime.''