| Elizabeth Taylor
London/Los Angeles, Nov. 24: Michael Jackson, who is accused of child sex offences, topped the British charts last night with his new album, Number Ones.
The album went on sale last week at around the time that Jackson was arrested in the US for allegedly committing lewd acts with a child under 14.
Yesterday in London about 30 of his fans began a vigil in Leicester Square to show their support for him.
One of the group was Martina Wohlesser, 25, an Austrian who lives in London and has just returned from visiting Jackson in Las Vegas. Wohlesser said she was with the singer shortly before the allegations surfaced and got the impression that he knew something was about to surface.
“He was very quiet and serious,” she said. “So I think he already knew something was going to come out. This is really going too far because he doesn’t deserve this.”
Jackson was released on bail of $3 million after being arrested on Thursday by Santa Barbara county authorities.
Elizabeth Taylor said yesterday that she believes pop star and good friend Michael Jackson is “absolutely innocent” of child molestation charges and will be “vindicated.” In a statement, Taylor also criticised the press for behaving “abominably” toward the self-styled King of Pop.
“Their whole reaction is that he is guilty. I thought the law was ‘innocent until proven guilty’. I know he is innocent and I hope they all eat crow,” Taylor said of the press.
The veteran actress, who flew to Singapore to lend support to Jackson on tour when he was last accused of child molestation a decade ago, said she would not be giving interviews to the media because of the way they have treated Jackson.
“I believe Michael is absolutely innocent and that he will be vindicated,” Taylor said in her statement.
It was her first public comment on the charges since some 60 police officers stormed Jackson’s Neverland valley ranch in the hills above Santa Barbara on Tuesday last week, looking for evidence to substantiate the allegations of an unidentified young boy. Jackson has not spoken publicly about the child molestation charges but has said in a statement that the allegations are outrageous lies and predicted he would be exonerated.
Jackson — who was whisked from Las Vegas to California and back just long enough to surrender to police, hand in his passport and post $3 million bail on Thursday — was due in court for an arraignment on January 9.
Prosecutors have said Jackson will be charged under a California law that defines molestation as “arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions or sexual desires of” the offender or a child under age. The charge carries a penalty of three to eight years in prison.
It was the second time in 10 years that such allegations have been made against the performer, who rose to fame as the young lead singer of the Jackson 5 during the 1960s, and made one of the best-selling albums of all time, 1982’s Thriller.
Jackson has set up a web site to communicate directly with fans about the criminal charges he faces. “As you know, the charges recently directed at me are terribly serious,” Jackson wrote in an undated letter on the website (http://www.mjnews.us) . “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.”