Deborah Dannelly knows about the charges Michael Jackson faces and has read about media leaks in the case. But she doesn't care -- she still loves "The King of Pop."
Dannelly, 49, is the president of the Michael Jackson Fan Club, an international club based in Corpus Christi, Texas. She has been part of the fan club for 13 years and estimates that the club has between 12,000 and 14,000 members worldwide. And Dannelly is proud to say she has been a fan of the entertainer for 36 years.
"I think the media has painted a pretty dark picture of Michael," Dannelly said in a telephone interview, although she was initially reluctant to talk to ABCNEWS.com.
These are difficult days for Dannelly and fans like her as Jackson faces trial on charges he molested a now-15-year-old boy who spent time at his Neverland ranch. The boy is believed to be the cancer survivor who appeared with the singer in the 2003 British documentary "Living With Michael Jackson." Jackson, 46, has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges that include felony conspiracy with 28 overt acts involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
Dannelly's faith in Jackson has not wavered. Media coverage of the case, she believes, has been biased, demonizing Jackson and jeopardizing his chances for a fair trial.
"I don't think they have been interested in finding the truth but rather in putting out whatever would make headlines," she said. "And I thought the media would have better principles and integrity in this important of a case."
Jackson's fans showed him that they were still in his corner when jury selection began on Jan. 31. They came in throngs from all over the world to gather outside the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in Santa Maria, Calif., holding signs that read, "Michael's Innocent, Leave Him Alone," "Save Michael Jackson," and "France Supports and Loves MJ." Some continued to show their support when Jackson was hospitalized last week with the flu, gathering outside the Marian Medical Center where he was staying and fainting and crying at the thought of his illness.
To a lesser extent, celebrity defendants such as Kobe Bryant and Martha Stewart saw similar fan support in their criminal cases. As Bryant faced trial for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman at a Vail, Colo., ski resort, his supporters traveled to the courthouse just to catch a glimpse of the NBA star and scream his name. (Prosecutors dropped the criminal case against Bryant when the alleged victim said she would not testify at the trial. Bryant has maintained his innocence, but still faces a civil lawsuit from his accuser.)
Stewart's fans continued to insist on her innocence and argued she was unfairly targeted by federal prosecutors after she was convicted of conspiracy, making false statements and obstruction of justice for lying about a stock sale.
That fan support has made Stewart a hot product even as she serves her sentence. Publishers are reportedly vying for a memoir Stewart is said to be writing about her prison experiences. Her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, has survived, and NBC has announced plans for Stewart to host her own version of the hit show "The Apprentice."
Fans of Bryant, Stewart and Jackson are not just supporting idols and pop icons they believe have been wrongly accused of crimes, experts say. They consider them to be members of their family.