Geragos: Jackson 'Not a Freak'

ByABC News via via logo

Jan. 17, 2004 -- Despite his client's eccentricities and bizarre appearance, defense attorney Mark Geragos told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America he does not consider Michael Jackson a "freak" and he is not concerned about how the pop star's image might affect the criminal case against him.

Watch ABCNEWS' Good Morning America Monday morning for the complete interview.

"I have sat and talked with him," Geragos told ABCNEWS senior legal correspondent Cynthia McFadden in an exclusive interview scheduled to air Monday on Good Morning America. "He's not a freak in any sense of the word. All I can tell you is that a day does not go by that I do not get inundated at my office with e-mails, letters of support, from people who think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread."

Geragos gave the interview before a judge placed a gag order on prosecutors and defense attorneys at Jackson's arraignment hearing on Friday. Jackson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of child molestation and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to a child under 14. Santa Barbara County, Calif., prosecutors allege Jackson molested a 12-year-old boy who spent time at his Neverland Ranch.

Jackson, who was first accused of child molestation in 1993 but never charged, has raised eyebrows by repeatedly saying in interviews — first in a British documentary, Living With Michael Jackson, and then in an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes last month — that he has allowed other people's children to sleep in his bed at Neverland Ranch.

Geragos told McFadden he does not see anything wrong with parents letting their children spend the night at other people's houses. He has allowed it with his own children.

"My children spend the night at other 45-year-old men's houses — a single male who's roughly my age, who's got a son, and my son spends the night at his house," Geragos said.

Public Misperception?

Geragos belittled the notion that Jackson has sleepovers to lure children into his bedroom.

"This idea that somehow he's luring kids into sleep into his bedroom and some kind of seductive dance — if it wasn't so absolutely defamatory, it would be laughable," Geragos said.

Members of the public, he said, immediately leap to the conclusion that sexual acts are involved or that Jackson sleeps in the same room as his guests whenever they hear the star talk about sleepovers or sharing his bed with children.

But those assumptions are false, Geragos said.

"They're not invited to spend the night in his bedroom," Geragos said. "He has a specific area where guests stay. … The reason this kind of [thing] comes up is that people assume that he comes up there and spends the night in the bedroom. He's never said that to anybody."

The reason Jackson's comments have stirred such outrage is that he is misunderstood, Geragos said. The music legend grew up in a large household where intimacy and sharing a bed were not frowned upon.

"It's part of the mind-set," Geragos said. "His [Jackson's] mind — when you talk to him — this is a boy who, when he was a young boy, grew up in a large family, in a small house. And in that small house in Gary, Indiana, they shared a bed, and people — relatives — would come over. And that's how he grew up."

Media Circus

Jackson's arraignment Friday was a media circus. Hundreds of fans and hordes and hordes of reporters gathered outside the Santa Maria courthouse to see the singer arrive approximately 20 minutes late for his own arraignment — tardiness that sparked a scolding from the presiding judge.

After the arraignment, as Jackson's entourage was leaving, the singer climbed atop the sport utility vehicle that brought him to court and waved to the fans. Music played and Jackson had his own cameraman there to record the scene. Jackson then hosted a gathering at Neverland for fans at the courthouse who were given invitations by his bodyguards.

The judge scheduled a Feb. 13 court session to set the date for a preliminary hearing, which will determine whether there is enough evidence put Jackson on trial.

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