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Jackson booked on suspicion of molestation

Formal charges after Thanksgiving; arraignment set January 9

Jackson gestures as he leaves the county jail Thursday.
Jackson gestures as he leaves the county jail Thursday.

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Watch CNN's "Larry King Live" at 9 p.m. EST Friday, for the latest on the Jackson case.
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Michael Jackson has been booked, posted bail, released and given an arraignment date of January 9.
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Jermaine Jackson says his brother Michael is being falsely accused.
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Pop star Michael Jackson returns to Las Vegas, Nevada, after being booked. (partial audio)
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From the California Penal Code Section 288(a):
Any person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, including any of the acts constituting other crimes provided for in Part 1, upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.
Michael Jackson
Justice and Rights
Mark Geragos

SANTA BARBARA, California (CNN) -- Michael Jackson was booked on suspicion of child molestation Thursday, posted a $3 million bond and released in less than an hour. The pop star flashed the peace sign, waved and blew kisses to cameras as he left the Santa Barbara County jail.

The 45-year-old singer will be arraigned January 9 in Santa Barbara Superior Court.

District Attorney Tom Sneddon's office said formal charges of lewd or lascivious contact with a child younger than 14 would be filed against Jackson after next Thursday's Thanksgiving public holiday.

Jackson's lawyer, Mark Geragos, told reporters his client had come "to confront these charges head-on. He is greatly outraged by the bringing of these charges. He considers this to be a big lie."

Geragos added: "Michael has given me the authority to say, on his behalf, that these charges are categorically untrue."

Geragos is involved in another high-profile California case as the defense lawyer for accused wife-killer Scott Peterson. (Geragos profile)

Jackson was escorted into the jail wearing a black suit with his hands cuffed behind his back.

The entire booking process during which he was photographed and fingerprinted took about 30-40 minutes, a Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department spokesman said. Jackson also handed over his passport.

After being released, Jackson was whisked away to a private plane that flew him back to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he has been shooting a music video.

He departed from the same Santa Barbara airport where he had surrendered to authorities after arriving around noon (3 p.m. EST) aboard a Gulf Stream G-4 private jet from Las Vegas.

When his SUV stalled in Las Vegas traffic, well-wishers dodged vehicles to grasp hands with Jackson, who blew kisses to the crowd and extended his hand through a crack in the window.

Jackson's family issued a statement after his arrest, denouncing the "vicious allegation" against him as a "big lie."

"Michael said, 'Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons.' The truth will win this marathon in court," the family said.

Michael Jackson's older brother Jermaine expressed outrage over TV commentary since news broke of the allegations, comparing it to "a modern-day lynching" of a man whose life has been "about peace."

He said he and his family support Michael "one thousand percent" because they believe he is innocent and that he himself was furious.

"I am sick and tired of people speaking on my brother's behalf, and my family's behalf, who do not know us," he said. "So you put these people on national television or international television saying these things." (Full story)

Authorities have released no details about the child or the time of the alleged molestation. A judge has ordered affidavits in the case sealed for 45 days. Authorities also appealed to the public for information on other possible victims.

Jackson could face a minimum of three years and a maximum of eight years in prison on each count if convicted.

He is the father of three children. It is not known how their status might be affected by this case.

CBS announced Wednesday that "given the gravity of the charges" against Jackson it was postponing a special program on him scheduled for November 26. (Full story)

The allegations come almost a decade after Jackson settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of a boy who spent the night at Neverland Ranch when he was 13 and accused Jackson of molesting him.

Criminal investigators stopped pursuing their case after the lawsuit was settled for an unknown amount and the boy -- by then 14 -- made clear he did not want to participate in any prosecution of the singer.

Johnnie Cochran, Jackson's attorney in that 1993 case, said at the time that Jackson maintained his innocence and that the settlement was in no way an admission of guilt.

Sneddon said Wednesday he did not know whether the parents of the current accuser were aware of the past allegations. He said no civil suit has been filed in the latest case and none is expected.

Jackson's booking photo
Jackson's booking photo

"We have a cooperative victim in this particular proceeding," Sneddon said when announcing an arrest warrant for Jackson had been issued. (Full story)

Dozens of law enforcement officers searched Jackson's ranch for about 13 hours Tuesday, and search warrants were served on two other locations in Southern California where some property was seized, authorities said. (Full story)

Jackson's mansion is on a 2,600-acre estate about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Santa Barbara and features amusement park rides, a petting zoo and statues of children.

The singer's spokesman, Stuart Backerman, said the tone of the authorities' news conference on Wednesday was disturbing. (Transcript of news conference)

"We are disturbed by the levity of the environment surrounding the announcement of these very serious charges," he said.

Backerman said the singer had been in Las Vegas for more than two weeks shooting a video for the song "One More Chance." That single is on his "Number Ones" album, a greatest-hits collection released Tuesday by Epic Records.

Jackson arrives at the jail in handcuffs after surrendering to police.
Jackson arrives at the jail in handcuffs after surrendering to police.

Prosecutors dismissed questions raised about whether the execution of the search warrants was timed to coincide with the music release.

"It really has nothing to do with his album or whatever else he's doing in his life," said Sneddon.

Jackson sang about Sneddon in his song "D.S.," which was on the pop star's 1995 double-CD album "HIStory Past, Present and Future, Book 1." Each chorus repeats the line "Tom Sneddon is a cold man" four times. (Full story)

CNN's Mike Brooks, Frank Buckley, Charles Feldman and Stan Wilson contributed to this report.

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