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Jacko: I'm a conspiracy victim

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Last week, the Rev. Jesse Jackson revealed that he frequently prays with Michael Jackson. On Sunday, the two made their chats public, with the singer granting the civil rights activist a rare interview on the clergyman’s weekly syndicated radio show. During the hour-long chat, the entertainer repeated his insistence that the current charges against him are ”totally fabricated,” explained his mysterious back ailment, and said he’d been victimized by a ”conspiracy” that has targeted other prominent blacks.

Jackson’s back pain, which has made him late to court twice in recent weeks, leading Judge Rodney Melville at one point to threaten to arrest Jackson and revoke his $3 million bail, was the result of the 46-year-old slipping and falling in the shower, he said. ”I’m pretty fragile,” said the singer, who added that he bruised a lung in the accident, leading him to cough up blood in the courtroom during a recent appearance at the trial. When the reverend noted the pop star’s thin appearance, Jackson said he’s never been a big eater, and that pal Elizabeth Taylor was so alarmed that she used to ”hand-feed me.” Nonetheless, he said, he’s not starving. ”My health is perfect, actually.”

The trial has Jackson at the lowest emotional point of his life, the singer said. Nonetheless, he added, ”I’m a strong person. I’m a warrior, and I know what is inside of me.” He thanked his fans for their support and urged them to ”believe in me because I am completely, completely innocent. But please know a lot of conspiracy is going on as we speak.” By that, he meant that he is one of several ”black luminaries” who have been targeted by false accusations; others he cited were Nelson Mandela and boxing champs Muhammad Ali and Jack Johnson.

Jackson’s live chat came one day before Judge Melville is due to rule on whether or not previous molestation allegations against the singer can be introduced as evidence. Until the current accuser came forward, such allegations had never led to criminal charges against Jackson, though he famously paid a multimillion-dollar sum to a boy who had accused him in 1993, forestalling a civil suit. Jackson has denied that he ever molested the 1993 boy or anyone else and has said he paid the settlement out of fear that a suit would damage his career. The current prosecutors have argued that the past allegations establish a pattern. Jackson’s defense team has argued that the allegations would be prejudicial, though his lawyers may also use the old charges to paint Jackson’s current accuser as a copycat seeking a similar windfall from the singer.

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