- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nearly a month after his arrest, pop star Michael Jackson is expected to be charged this week in a child molestation case that legal experts say will require strong physical evidence for prosecutors to overcome questions about the accuser’s credibility.

Criminal charges usually are announced soon after an arrest, but Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon did not immediately file a formal complaint after Mr. Jackson’s Nov. 20 booking. He said officials needed until this week to set up a Web site they would use to distribute the charging documents to hundreds of news organizations covering the case.

Law-enforcement officials have not discussed their evidence since the singer turned himself in. But Jim Thomas, a former Santa Barbara County sheriff who has discussed the case with Mr. Sneddon, expects the charges to say that Mr. Jackson molested one child repeatedly, probably over a period of more than a month.

“You will see allegations of multiple counts of child molestation on this particular child,” Mr. Thomas said.

Legal analysts said the charges will not attempt to refute challenges to the credibility of the accuser and his family.

Charging documents usually include only basic information, analysts said, such as the nature of the suspected offenses and when and where they would have occurred.

Recent findings that have raised credibility questions include a confidential memo leaked last week that showed Los Angeles County child welfare officials determined in February there was no basis for the accusations that Mr. Jackson had molested the boy.

In the memo, Mr. Jackson’s accuser, his brother and his mother all denied the boy had been molested.

Mr. Sneddon said in a statement that he was aware of the memo when he sought the arrest warrant and did not expect it to affect the case.

Russell Halpern, an attorney for the accuser’s father, has said his client’s ex-wife had a “Svengali-like ability” to make her children lie in testimony.

Mr. Jackson’s defense attorney, Mark Geragos, declined to comment. He has previously said Mr. Jackson is innocent.

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