- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2003

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — The Santa Barbara County sheriff yesterday denied that Michael Jackson was roughed up in jail, saying he was asking the state attorney general to investigate the pop star’s accusations.

“I’m shocked and troubled by his allegations,” Sheriff Jim Anderson said at a news conference.

In a CBS “60 Minutes” interview broadcast Sunday, Mr. Jackson said he was “manhandled” while in custody and locked in a feces-smeared restroom for 45 minutes after he asked to use the facilities.

Sheriff Anderson said he was taking Mr. Jackson’s complaint of abuse as a formal citizen’s complaint. If Mr. Jackson’s accusations are found to be untrue by a state investigation, Sheriff Anderson said, he would file a complaint against Mr. Jackson for making a groundless accusation against an officer.

“He was treated with the utmost respect and courtesy during his arrest, transport and booking by all members of this department,” Sheriff Anderson said.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer quickly issued a statement that he had ordered an independent investigation into whether Mr. Jackson’s rights had been violated. He said he did not know how long it would take.

The sheriff played video and audio tapes of much of the booking. One tape made in a car while the singer was being transported recorded polite conversation and Mr. Jackson whistling. At one point, the singer asked for air conditioning and said “thank you” when it was turned on.

“I think Mr. Jackson has seriously hurt his credibility,” Sheriff Anderson concluded.

Mr. Jackson has not filed a formal complaint against the department.

Jackson attorney Mark Geragos said after the sheriff’s news conference that his client “absolutely” stands by his accusations, and that the idea of seeking criminal charges over a false report “shows another serious flaw in their knowledge of the law.”

Earlier yesterday, Chief Deputy Fred Olguin, who oversees the jail and was present at Mr. Jackson’s booking, told NBC’s “Today” show that Mr. Jackson was handcuffed “around the wrist like any other prisoner.”

The deputy said the singer blew a kiss to other inmates as he was checked in, then was kept in a holding room with a toilet, sink and bench for 15 to 20 minutes. Deputy Olguin said the holding room is scrubbed once a day.

Mr. Jackson, 45, is charged with seven counts of performing lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent, reportedly wine. Mr. Jackson, who is free on $3 million bail, has said he is innocent.

On “60 Minutes,” Mr. Jackson displayed what he said was a bruise on his right arm received when jailers mistreated him.

“My shoulder is dislocated, literally. It’s hurting very badly. I’m in pain all the time,” Mr. Jackson said. “It’s very swollen. … It keeps me from sleeping at night.”

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