Does Memo Suggest DA Vendetta Against Jackson?

ByABC News

April 29, 2004 -- ABCNEWS has exclusively viewed documents that raise potentially troubling questions about the investigation into the child molestation allegations against Michael Jackson as the "King of Pop" prepares to face his arraignment on the charges brought by a grand jury.

Jackson, 45, faces seven counts of performing a lewd act upon a child for alleged inappropriate conduct with a now-14-year-old cancer survivor who spent time at his Neverland ranch. Last week, a grand jury hearing evidence in the child molestation case against him decided to indict him and he is scheduled to be formally arraigned Friday in Santa Barbara county court.

Jackson has professed his innocence and claimed the allegations against him are false. He and his defense have said that Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon has a vendetta against him and is determined to convict the pop star legend at any cost — a charge Sneddon has denied.

ABCNEWS has seen documents — including a memo apparently written by Sneddon himself — that will likely add to the controversy about the district attorney's role in the case.

Alleged Personal Stakeouts and Investigation

A memo that bears Sneddon's name and is dated last November says Sneddon personally investigated aspects of the case against Jackson. Jackson defense sources told ABCNEWS that Sneddon took on parts of the investigation that are almost always handled by police investigators or junior prosecutors.

According to the memo, Sneddon drove to Los Angeles and met alone with the mother of Jackson's alleged victim in a parking lot behind a federal building. The memo says that Sneddon took pictures of the office of a private investigator who worked for Jackson. Sneddon, the memo claims, handled all these matters by himself, without the presence of a law enforcement officer or an investigator. Sources close to Jackson told ABCNEWS that Sneddon also executed his own stakeouts.

In addition, a Santa Barbara County police report says that Sneddon met alone with Jackson's alleged victim's mother on another occasion.

‘Way Too Personal’

Linda Fairstein, a leading sex crimes prosecutor, said this alleged personal sleuthing by Sneddon was unusual.

"It's way too personal. It's way out of line," Fairstein told Good Morning America. "If he does any substantive parts of an investigation, he may become a witness in the case."

Fairstein added that Sneddon's close involvement in aspects of the investigation could be grounds for a mistrial and gives Jackson's defense team ammunition to attack the prosecution.

"It lets these very talented defense attorneys take him apart before the jury and explain that it's not his place to do that," she said. "He creates trouble in and out of the courtroom for himself by taking on that role."

Legal experts also believe jurors are more likely to question the case against Jackson they sense it is motivated by a personal grudge from the district attorney.

Citing a gag order in the case, Tom Sneddon declined to comment on the memo and charges of a personal grudge against Jackson. He has said the evidence will speak for itself in court.

The specific charges that the grand jury decided to bring against Jackson are under seal, but will be revealed publicly when Jackson is arraigned Friday. He remains free on $3 million bail.

Reported by ABCNEWS' Jessica Yellin on Good Morning America.

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