SANTA MARIA, California — Michael Jackson, recovering at Neverland Ranch from his back injury, is "anxiously awaiting" the verdict from his child-molestation trial, his spiritual advisor Jesse Jackson told reporters gathered at the Santa Maria courthouse on Tuesday. The reverend has been visiting and praying with the singer during the wait, and described the singer's state of mind.
Jesse Jackson also spoke with reporters on Monday, and has been the only public figure to make such demonstrations of support during deliberations. When asked about Jackson's other friends and supporters — such as Elizabeth Taylor and Oprah Winfrey — the reverend said simply, "You'll have to ask them."
The reverend, who is not staying at Neverland but at a local hotel, said Michael is hurt by insinuations that he's faking his back injury or using his physical pain as a ploy for sympathy during deliberations. He said that the singer's pain is quite "severe" (see "Michael Jackson Alleges Conspiracy, Explains Back Pain").
"He is not faking it," Jesse Jackson said. "He's grimacing in pain, but he's fighting back."
He said that the singer's back spasms had gotten worse with the stress of the trial, and that he very much "realizes the gravity of the situation and the implications."
Still, Michael is not completely bedridden, he said, and is walking about during the day. And he hasn't become "paralyzed by fear" at the prospect of prison time. He had to choose between fear and hope, the reverend said, and Michael has chosen hope, remaining "amazingly optimistic." The singer has confidence in his lawyers, due process, and his well of public support, the reverend said, reminding supporters at the same time, "Michael must not be made to feel alone or abandoned."
Michael had felt betrayed during the trial, the reverend said, when some of the people he trusted and was the most generous to had testified against him, though he felt they "withered" under cross examination. Michael has no bitterness or anger now, the reverend said, only confidence and hope as he waits the word of the jury.
Asked if Michael has made any plans for the care of his children if he is convicted, Jesse Jackson replied, "His plans are for acquittal."
MTV News will have live coverage from Santa Maria on-air, online and in Overdrive when a verdict is handed down.
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see "Michael Jackson Accused."