Michael Jackson Denies Sex Charges in TV Interview
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In his first interview since being charged with child molestation, pop star Michael Jackson vehemently denies the allegations but insists there is nothing wrong in sleeping with children, according to excerpts released on Friday by CBS News.
"Before I would hurt a child, I would slit my wrists," Jackson told correspondent Ed Bradley in an interview scheduled to be shown Sunday on "60 Minutes."
Bradley asked Jackson whether he thought that under the circumstances, it was still acceptable to sleep with children and Jackson answered, "Of course. Why not? If you're going to be a pedophile, if you're going to be Jack the Ripper, if you're going to be a murderer, it's not a good idea. That I am not."
Jackson also said the police search of his Neverland Valley Ranch in central California last month so violated his privacy that "I won't live there ever again. It's a house now. It's not a home anymore. I'll only visit."
During the 30-minute interview, conducted Thursday at a Los Angeles hotel, Jackson also discussed his brief time in police custody, including an injury he said he suffered from the handcuffs, and other details about his arrest, CBS said.
In addition to the "60 Minutes" interview, CBS said that an hourlong Jackson music special that was canceled the day after authorities raided his Neverland Ranch has been rescheduled for Friday, Jan. 2.
CBS spokesman Chris Ender said Jackson's "60 Minutes" interview cleared the way for the network to resurrect the music special. "The timing is better," Ender told Reuters. "We wouldn't have rescheduled the entertainment special if he hadn't addressed the situation in the Ed Bradley interview."
The reclusive entertainer was arrested on suspicion of child molestation in November and released on $3 million bail. He was formally charged Dec. 18 with seven counts of committing a lewd act on a minor and two counts of administering an "intoxicating agent" for the purposes of molesting a child.
The charges stem from allegations that he molested a boy under the age of 14 at his Neverland ranch earlier this year.
Jackson, who has three children of his own, has issued a statement through his publicist calling the allegations a "big lie," and his lawyer, Mark Geragos, has said the case is a "shakedown" motivated by greed and revenge. But Jackson's upcoming appearance on "60 Minutes" will mark his first interview since the case broke.
Jackson's last television interview was in a controversial documentary by British journalist Martin Bashir that ran on ABC and British television in February.
In it, the singer appeared on camera holding hands with a 12-year-old boy with whom Jackson admitted sharing his bedroom. Jackson said he had spent the night with numerous children but denied there was anything sexual about such sleepovers.
The documentary renewed questions about Jackson's relationship with children and sparked calls for an investigation by child welfare authorities.