Jackson investigation taking longer than expected (July 23 2004)

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Jackson investigation taking longer than expected (July 23 2004)

Post by whisper » Sun Aug 01, 2004 1:51 am

Jackson investigation taking longer than expected

Singer accused deputies of "manhandling" him last year



Seven months after state Attorney General Bill Lockyer launched his investigation into Michael Jackson's claim that he was manhandled by sheriff's deputies at the Santa Barbara County Jail, the inquiry is not yet finished.

"The investigation into those allegations requires that it be one of the most exhaustive and thorough investigations the department has ever done," Mr. Lockyer's spokesman told the News-Press on Thursday.

"I can tell you the allegations made by Mr. Jackson and the manner in which they were made were very serious and very high-profile," spokesman Nathan Barankin said.

Mr. Barankin wouldn't say when he expected the investigation to conclude.

Mr. Lockyer's investigation has been overshadowed in the media by preparations for Mr. Jackson's trial on child molestation charges. Few in the local law enforcement community expected the attorney general's efforts to take this long.

Former Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas said: "The Jackson case will be over before the AG's office gets done. It's amazing they're taking this long to do it. I don't think they're giving it much attention. It shouldn't take this long to do this kind of investigation. They should have had it done in 30 days."

He suspected there might be a problem finding inmates who were at the jail while Mr. Jackson was being booked. "Let's put it this way -- they wouldn't have trouble tracking down the deputies or corrections officers," he said. "And I don't think Jackson's attorneys are allowing him to speak. So they are probably having trouble tracking down inmates."

In December, Mr. Jackson alleged on the CBS program "60 Minutes" that sheriff's deputies "manhandled" him during his arrest Nov. 20 on suspicion of child molestation. He claimed his shoulder was dislocated and arms bruised when detectives handcuffed him. Mr. Jackson also said he was locked in a cell with feces on the walls for about 45 minutes. However, he did not file a formal complaint with the Sheriff's Department.

In January, Mr. Lockyer told the News-Press that he expected his agents to interview 30 to 40 people and wrap up the probe within three weeks.

But Mr. Barankin said: "Many of those interviews led to the discovery of additional information requiring further investigation. Many more people have been interviewed than anticipated.

"I can tell you that people we've been obligated to interview in order to do a thorough investigation include representatives from the Sheriff's Department and people who were in contact with Mr. Jackson immediately before, during and after his brief stay there in the jail, and some of those include inmates," Mr. Barankin said.

Sheriff Jim Anderson declined to answer questions about the investigation Thursday but issued a statement: "We are anticipating that the findings of their investigation will be discussed with us sometime in the near future. We have made numerous inquiries as well as to when the investigation will be complete and the findings made public."

Mr. Jackson's defense team -- led by Thomas Mesereau -- declined comment, citing a gag order in the criminal case against the singer.

In a December news conference, Sheriff Anderson denied that his deputies had injured Mr. Jackson. He showed a video of what appeared to be an uneventful arrest in a hangar at the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport. The sheriff also played an audiotape on which Mr. Jackson could be heard whistling as detectives transported him to the County Jail.

The handcuffs were taken off Mr. Jackson about 40 seconds after his arrival at the jail and the total time he spent there was 63 minutes, Sheriff Anderson said. He also discounted Mr. Jackson's accusations that deputies locked him inside a room smeared with feces. He said Mr. Jackson had been placed in a holding cell, which had just been cleaned, for about 15 minutes.

At that news conference, the sheriff also said that he considered Mr. Jackson's accusations on television "a formal citizen complaint" and referred it to the Attorney General's Office for an independent investigation.

On Thursday, Mr. Barankin explained: "The sheriff requested our office investigate. He took the allegations seriously and wanted it to be evaluated. We agreed to conduct the investigation. Normally what would happen is the victim of alleged abuse would make the request directly of our office."

The sheriff also said then that if the Lockyer investigation concludes that no abuse occurred, he would recommend that the District Attorney's Office file charges of making a false report against the entertainer.

However, Mr. Lockyer said in January that the sheriff was mistaken about the possibility of charges being filed because Mr. Jackson had not filed an official complaint.

In response, Sheriff Anderson said: "There is minimal case law specific to this issue. As a department, I considered Michael Jackson's complaint to be a formal complaint because of the venue and limited number of employees that had access to him during his short stay. It's not right for anyone to make false claims, and I believe he should be held accountable."

:nav Source: http://news.newspress.com/topsports/072304jackson.htm

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