Sheriff denies Michael Jackson abuse claim

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- The Santa Barbara County sheriff denied today that Michael Jackson was roughed up in jail, saying he was asking the state attorney general to investigate the pop star's claims.

"I'm shocked and troubled by his allegations," Sheriff Jim Anderson told a news conference.

In a CBS "60 Minutes" interview that was broadcast Sunday, Jackson said he was "manhandled" while in custody and locked in a feces-smeared restroom for 45 minutes after he asked to use the facilities.

Anderson said that he was taking Jackson's complaint of abuse as a formal citizen's complaint. If Jackson's claims are found to be untrue by a state investigation, Anderson said, he would file a complaint against Jackson for making a groundless accusation against an officer.

"He was treated with the utmost respect and courtesy during his arrest, transport and booking by all members of this department," Anderson said.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer quickly issued a statement saying he had ordered an independent investigation into whether Jackson's rights were violated. He said he did not know how long it would take.

The sheriff played video and audio tapes of much of the booking. One tape made in a car while he was being transported recorded polite conversation and Jackson whistling. At one point Jackson asked for air conditioning and said "thank you" when it was turned on.

"I think Mr. Jackson has seriously hurt his credibility," Anderson concluded.

Jackson has not filed a formal complaint against the department.

Earlier today, Chief Deputy Fred Olguin, who oversees the jail and was present at Jackson's booking, told NBC's "Today" show that Jackson was handcuffed "around the wrist like any other prisoner."

He said the singer blew a kiss to other inmates as he was checked in, then was kept in a holding room with a toilet, sink and bench for 15 to 20 minutes. He said the holding room is scrubbed once a day.

Jackson, 45, is charged with seven counts of performing lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent, reportedly wine. Jackson, who is free on $3 million bail, has said he is innocent.

On "60 Minutes" Jackson displayed what he said was a bruise on his right arm he said he received when jailers mistreated him.

"My shoulder is dislocated, literally. It's hurting very badly. I'm in pain all the time," Jackson said. "It's very swollen. ... It keeps me from sleeping at night."

Also today, CBS denied a published report that the company paid Jackson for the "60 Minutes" interview.

The New York Times, quoting an unidentified Jackson associate, said Wednesday that Jackson was paid $1 million to reschedule an entertainment special that had been postponed in November. The special, "Michael Jackson Number Ones," will air Friday.

The source said the extra $1 million meant that "in essence," CBS paid for the interview. But Jack Sussman, CBS vice president for specials, said the fee for Jackson's participation in the special was negotiated in September and was not increased.

In a separate development, Jackson's brother Jermaine acknowledged for the first time that members of the Nation of Islam were providing security for the pop star.

"There is some security that works with Michael from the Nation," he told MSNBC on Tuesday. "We didn't ask them to pray. We asked them to secure him."

Jackson's lawyer and others close to him previously had characterized at least one of the group's leaders as a supporter. Asked about the group, Jackson business adviser Charles Koppelman said recently that the Nation of Islam was not involved in Jackson's "music, finances and assets. I think it's primarily in security."

In the MSNBC interview, Jermaine Jackson did not address whether the Nation of Islam was involved in his brother's business affairs.

On the Net:

Sheriff: http://www.sbsheriff.org

Jackson: http://www.mjnews.us

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