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Coffey: Surprise key to search such as at Jackson ranch

CNN legal analyst Kendall Coffey
CNN legal analyst Kendall Coffey

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CNN's Frank Buckley reports that a source close to the investigation says the search of the Jackson ranch involves child molestation allegations.
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CNN's Anderson Cooper reports on the search of pop star Jackson's estate.
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On the Scene
Kendall Coffey
Michael Jackson

(CNN) -- As many as 70 law enforcement officials searched pop star Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch for several hours Tuesday in connection with what one official called an "ongoing criminal investigation."

Santa Barbara County, California, authorities had no official confirmation of what prompted the search, but a source with knowledge of the investigation said it involved allegations of child molestation.

CNN Anchor Bill Hemmer spoke Wednesday with legal analyst Kendall Coffey about the search, conducted while Jackson was in Las Vegas, Nevada, working on a video shoot.

COFFEY: We know that the search itself means that a magistrate has found probable cause. And what we don't know is the specifics of the charges; we don't know anything about what the evidence might be. Whether this is sort of a version of a he said versus child said, or whether there's some hard, physical evidence to corroborate what authorities believe is a crime.

HEMMER: In a general sense and not specific with Michael Jackson right now, because there's a lot we do not know, when investigators go into a home and raid it, what are they looking for?

COFFEY: They're going to look obviously for photographs, for video. They're going to go through computers ... because they usually think there's going to be things found in the hard drive. And physical evidence of any sort possibly, including frankly DNA.

HEMMER: Can you answer this question as to why they didn't go to Vegas?

COFFEY: Well, I think that what law enforcement would normally do is want to search the home when he's not around. When he's totally [not expecting it], and when he's totally distracted somewhere else. The element of surprise is a good thing when you want to search and you want to make sure that the evidence you're looking for is still there and none of it's been in any fashion tampered with or removed.

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