Los Angeles Times

Family Travels to Jackson's Side

Michael Jackson's family, arriving here Friday, defended the pop superstar against allegations that he sexually abused a 13-year-old boy, accusing the media during a news conference of "influencing the public" unfairly.

"We made this long trip to see him because we'd like to tell him that we're with him and that we don't believe this story that people are trying to pin on him," Jackson's mother, Katherine, said as she and other relatives joined Jackson for the third stop of his "Dangerous" tour. "We're family and we're going to stick by him."

The Jackson family flew from Los Angeles to Taipei seven hours after the singer arrived in Taiwan's capital. Jackson's arrival at Taipei's luxurious Grand Formosa Regent Hotel on Friday created a scramble when fans and reporters surrounded the singer's van as it pulled into the hotel's service entrance.

Jackson, wearing his trademark black hat and dark sunglasses, buried his head in his hands as two bodyguards escorted him from the van into the basement of the hotel. He was then whisked onto a private elevator and transported to his 19th-floor presidential suite.

He was accompanied by actress Elizabeth Taylor and her husband, Larry Fortensky, who joined the performer in Singapore last week to give him moral support after the allegations of child abuse surfaced.

A group of Japanese fans from Tokyo said they remain loyal to Jackson, despite the recent controversy. No charges have been filed against the singer.

"I heard about the allegations but I don't believe Michael is guilty," said Keiko Abo, 22. "I flew from Tokyo to Taipei with seven of my girlfriends to show our continued support. . . . We love him!"

Fans caught a second glimpse of Jackson as he waved from his two-story window facing the main entrance of the hotel.

"Michael is so nice to wave at us," said Taiwanese fan Chou Zi-ling, 10, who stood gazing up at the singer's window while clutching her younger sister's hand. "We walked over to the hotel after getting home from school and didn't even have time to change out of our school uniforms."

At the family's news conference, Jermaine Jackson said his brother must "remain strong" and continue to be of service to the people of the world. "We never thought something like this would happen to Michael, knowing what he represents . . . (which is) kindness for people."

Jackson's sister Rebbie and brothers Jackie and Randy also supported their brother. "The reason why we're here is because this is an ugly thing, and when this happens, it's damaging in a sense to the spirit even though a person knows they're not guilty," Rebbie said. "Family is very important."

Jackson had been scheduled to give his first concert here Friday but that was changed to Monday because of possible delays in moving stage equipment from Singapore to Taiwan. After Taiwan, Jackson is scheduled to perform in Japan, Russia, Israel, Turkey and the Canary Islands.

Taiwanese organizers said they have sold 75% of tickets they offered for the postponed concert and 90% of those offered for today's performance.

As part of its effort to welcome Jackson, the Regent Hotel has added special features to his 2,000-square-foot suite, which includes a large video screen in the lounge area, black and red balloons to decorate his living quarters and 50 cases of Evian water for his bath.

"Other hotels have informed us that Michael has made this type of request and we want to make his stay here as comfortable as possible," said Sharon Hsu, marketing and public relations director of the Grand Formosa Regent Hotel. Hsu said the hotel has also blocked off a section of its kitchen for Jackson's personal chef.

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