One day before jury selection in his child-molestation case is scheduled to proceed, Michael Jackson has released a video statement, responding to potentially damaging grand-jury leaks and asking for a fair trial.
"In the last few weeks, a large amount of ugly malicious information has been released into the media about me," Jackson said. "Apparently this information was leaked through transcripts in a grand-jury proceeding where neither my lawyers, nor I, ever appeared. The information is disgusting and false."
The singer's statement comes two weeks after ABC News released details of his accuser's testimony on "Good Morning America" and "Primetime Live," and three weeks after legal Web site The Smoking Gun first released the information contained in the transcripts of grand-jury testimony from March, which the judge had ordered to remain sealed (see "More Graphic Details Emerge In Jackson Case").
Jackson, dressed in a royal-blue shirt, said in the video statement that he allowed the accuser and his family into his home as he does "thousands of children who were ill or in distress" because he wants to help sick and needy children.
"Years ago, I allowed a family to visit and spend some time at Neverland," he said. "Neverland is my home. I allowed this family into my home because they told me their son was ill with cancer and needed my help."
The experience, however, has soured him to helping those in need, he said, and he regrets the decision: "These events have caused a nightmare for my family, my children and me. I never intend to place myself in so vulnerable a position again."
The final part of the taped statement, which appears on his Web site, is a plea for potential jurors to keep an open mind.
"Let me have my day in court," he said. "I deserve a fair trial like every other American citizen. I love my community and I have great faith in our justice system. I will be acquitted and vindicated when the truth is told."
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see "Michael Jackson Accused."