In what appears to be an emerging pattern, Michael Jackson spoke out over the weekend, proclaiming his innocence in advance of a big day at his child molestation trial.
In a speakerphone call with 200 fans late Sunday night, Jackson told the devoted, "God and the truth are on our side. We will be victorious," according to The Associated Press.
Jackson made the call from his Neverland Ranch, the alleged site of the molestation at the center of the trial, apologizing for not being able to join the fans in a nearby Radisson Hotel ballroom.
"You understand I can't be there today," Jackson said to fans, who paid $20 to attend the bash. "I wish I could. ... I know you've traveled from around the world, and I'm glad you came." Among those attending the teleconference: numerous Jackson impersonators and the singer's "personal magician," a man calling himself "Majestic Magnificent," who has been attending court with Jackson recently.
The event began with two young boys leading the group in prayer. Later, Jackson memorabilia was sold and a raffle was held for a white fedora with Jackson's signature.
As with his online interview with the Rev. Jesse Jackson last week — which came just before Judge Melville ruled on whether to allow allegations of past molestation to be allowed in the trial — Sunday's statements occurred just before another big day in the trial (see "Michael Jackson Alleges Conspiracy, Explains Back Pain"). Jurors will begin hearing about five past abuse allegations in court on Monday (April 4).
Because of the gag order in the case, Jackson had to keep his comments brief, praising the gathered as "the most wonderful fans in the world" and telling them that he is "looking forward to being with you very soon." The singer added, "Keep on dancing. I love you all very much."
Following Jackson's brief comments, the fans at the gathering cheered and played the Jackson song "D.S.," a thinly veiled attack on prosecutor Tom Sneddon. The day before, some fans gathered to beat a piñata with Sneddon's face on it, according to the AP report.
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see "Michael Jackson Accused."