Jackson's Web site proclaims his innocence

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

LOS ANGELES -- Michael Jackson launched a Web site Monday designed to tell his side of the story in his child-molestation case, asserting that the allegations are "predicated on a big lie."

"As you know, the charges recently directed at me are terribly serious," Jackson said in a six-paragraph statement posted on the site. "They are, however, predicated on a big lie. This will be shown in court, and we will be able to put this horrible time behind us."

The entertainer's spokes-man, Stuart Backerman, said Jackson put the site together so he could communicate directly with the news media and fans. The site also contains links to three earlier statements Backerman made on Jackson's behalf last week after authorities raided his Neverland Ranch and he then surrendered on a warrant alleging lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14.

In addition, the site attempts to separate Jackson's official statements from those of others who have claimed to represent him since the allegations arose.

"Any statement that does not appear on this website must be considered unauthorized," Jackson said.

The site's pages have a straightforward, businesslike design, with the phrase "The official press room" at the top above Jackson's name.

A public relations executive who is not involved in the Jackson case said the Web site allows the entertainer to bypass the news media to deliver his side of the story to the public.

"He's able to communicate with those people interested without the message being filtered by the media," said Doug Dowie, senior vice president of Fleishman-Hillard. "If he wants to put out an 800-word press release, you can read all 800 words."

Jackson was released on $3 million bail after his surrender Thursday and immediately returned to Las Vegas, where he had been filming a video. Authorities have said they expect to file formal charges sometime after Thanksgiving.


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