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Attorney Wants Jackson’s Children Removed

November 21, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ An attorney who has tangled with Michael Jackson in the past called Friday for Santa Barbara child welfare authorities to temporarily remove the pop star’s three children from his custody because of new child molestation allegations.

The demand by attorney Gloria Allred came as quiet descended on Santa Barbara following Jackson’s media-saturated surrender Thursday, and his whereabouts became unclear after his release on bail and return to the Las Vegas area with a two-hour motorcade to a Henderson hotel-casino.

A Green Valley Ranch spokeswoman declined comment on a report that Michael Jackson was seen leaving the hotel-casino about 4 a.m. Friday.

The Jackson family was at the Las Vegas studio of CMX Productions Inc. on Friday, said company spokesman Dean DeLorean. He would not say whether Michael Jackson was among the group.

In 1993 Allred briefly represented a 13-year-old boy involved in a molestation allegation that never led to criminal charges, but reportedly ended with Jackson paying a multimillion-dollar civil settlement.

Since then she has twice asked child-welfare officials to investigate Jackson.

Jackson has two boys, 6-year-old Prince Michael I and the baby, Prince Michael II. He also has a 5-year-old daughter, Paris. Little is known about Prince Michael II, whose mother has not been identified. Prince Michael I and Paris were born during his marriage to nurse Debbie Rowe, which ended in 1999.

A child-welfare investigation of Jackson is warranted because of his statements about sleepovers with children, the previous molestation allegation and an incident in which he dangled his baby son outside the window of a German hotel last year, Allred told a news conference.

``I believe the children should be temporarily removed from Mr. Jackson’s care and custody because of the history of Michael Jackson with children ... combined with present criminal allegations,″ she said.

Allred said authorities have the power to intervene when there is a ``substantial risk that a child will be sexually abused by his or her parent″ and shouldn’t wait until the outcome of any criminal case.

The Santa Barbara district attorney does not plan to file charges until after Thanksgiving.

Michael X. Dean, deputy director of Santa Barbara County Social Services, on Thursday declined to say whether there were plans to take Jackson’s children into custody, citing confidentiality rules.

Dean said that generally, criminal charges can prompt a child welfare investigation, but he added that such an investigation is not automatic.

Media reports have said the alleged victim is a 12- or 13-year-old cancer survivor who visited Jackson at his Neverland Ranch, a storybook playland where the singer, who has befriended several cancer victims, was known to hold sleep-overs for children and share his bed with youngsters.

A lawyer for the father of one young cancer patient told The Associated Press his client’s son was invited to a sleep-over at the ranch. But his client doesn’t know if his son is the child who is at the center of the molestation investigation, said attorney H. Russell Halpern.

The father is seeking custody of the boy from his ex-wife.

Halpern reiterated Friday that media reports were ``assuming that my client’s son is the object of the child molestation case. I can’t say for certain he’s the boy in the case. ... Other people believe my client’s son is the boy, but I can’t confirm it.″

Meanwhile, Jackson was finding some sympathy among music associates and neighbors.

Quincy Jones, producer of Jackson’s landmark ``Thriller″ album, told the syndicated TV program ``Access Hollywood,″ he was concerned about the media coverage of the case.

``I don’t know what to think about it. We are bombarded all day with choices from the Beltway Sniper to Laci Peterson. It never stops, you know, sensationalism in the media,″ Jones said.

Rap star Sean ``P. Diddy″ Combs told ``Access Hollywood″ he hoped the public will give Jackson the benefit of the doubt.

``I would say for us all to wait until the evidence is in,″ Combs said. ``Everybody’s lives are about to be turned upside down, so I would say wait and see what’s really going on before you jump to judgment.″

In the town of Los Olivos near Neverland, store owners defended Jackson and said that over the years he had become a common sight in the community.

``Around this town people are used to seeing Michael. He’s been known to walk up and down the street here,″ said Sharon Frowiss, manager of Jedlicka’s Saddlery Inc., where he recently bought a $229 tricycle.

``When he walked in the door you said, ‘Oh my gosh,’ but then you keep it to yourself and go about your business,″ she said.

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Associated Press Writers Jeff Wilson in Santa Barbara, Gillian Flaccus in Los Olivos and Christina Almeida and Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

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