Pop Star Michael Jackson Not Guilty of Child Molestation
Jurors at the Santa Barbara County courthouse in California took seven days to reach their unanimous verdict, which was met by cheers from the crowd outside made up mostly of his supporters.
Had he been convicted, Jackson would have faced nearly 20 years in prison.
After the verdict was read, Jackson quietly left the courthouse with his parents and bodyguards and drove off in a caravan of SUVs.
Jackson, 46, was charged with molesting a 13-year-old cancer survivor in 2003, giving the boy wine and conspiring to hold the boy and his family captive to get them to refute a damaging documentary, reported the Associated Press.
The documentary, “Living with Michael Jackson,” showed Jackson holding hands with the boy and telling interviewer Martin Bashir that he let children into his bed at his Neverland ranch but it was innocent and non-sexual.
During a total of 14 weeks of testimony, prosecutors portrayed Jackson as a pedophile who lured boys into his bed. The defense called the accuser and his family con artists.
Jackson, who gained fame as a child in the Jackson 5, dominated the pop music industry in the 1980s with “Thriller” and other best-selling albums. His career began to wane in 1993 after allegations of child molestation that ended with a multimillion-dollar civil settlement paid to the boy, according to the AP.
Each day of the trial, his fans and detractors gathered outside the courthouse, waving banners, chanting and sometimes jeering at each other.