Jackson proclaims his innocence

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The Independent Online
HE INVOKED God, described examinations of his penis and buttocks by the Santa Barbara police and pleaded for compassion. And the whole world was free to tune in. After weeks of mystery and evasion, there was Michael Jackson, wan and distraught, denying charges of child molestation.

Rarely can four minutes of air-time have had such intense attention. The world's biggest star was calling for help.

In seclusion since the cancellation of his world tour on 12 November, this was Jackson in person, denying the allegations that he molested a 12-year-old Californian boy last year. A criminal investigation into the charges is expected to end early next year. However, a court hearing into a civil lawsuit by the boy, now 13, is due to start in March.

Jackson proclaimed his innocence repeatedly during his broadcast, describing the charges as 'totally false'. Berating 'incredible and terrible mass media' for branding him guilty without evidence, he pleaded: 'I ask all of you to wait and hear the truth before you label or condemn me.'

Gulping back emotion, the rock star described as 'dehumanising' an examination earlier this week by local police of his genitals and lower body parts, prompted by claims by the boy that he had a skin discoloration on his penis. Corroboration of that description could turn the case against him. 'It was the most humiliating ordeal of my life, one that no person should ever have to suffer,' Jackson said.

At the end came the Bible. If he was guilty of anything, he declared, it was of giving all that he has to children and 'of believing what God said about children. 'Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.' It is not that I think that I am God but I try to be God-like in my heart.'

For millions of fans he was God. To many he probably still is.