Michael Jackson pleads innocent -- The star showed up late Friday for his arraignment on child molestation charges

By Brian Hiatt
Updated January 01, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Michael Jackson: Hector Mada/AFP/NewsCom

Michael Jackson pleaded innocent to child molestation charges Friday in an arraignment held in a Santa Maria, Calif., courthouse, according to the Associated Press. The star angered Judge Rodney Melville by arriving 21 minutes late. ”Mr Jackson, you have started out on the wrong foot here,” the judge said, according to AP. ”I want to advise you that I will not put up with that. It’s an insult to the court.”

Fans gathered outside the courthouse, cheering and singing the Jackson Five’s ‘I’ll Be There,” the wire service reported. Inside, Jackson was joined by his parents, along with his sister Janet, his brother Jermaine, and comedian Eddie Griffin, according to MTV News. After the arraignment, fans received invitations to join Jackson and family for a gathering at Neverland Ranch Friday afternoon, MTV News reported.

Jackson is charged with seven counts of lewd or lascivious acts upon a child, and two counts of administrating an intoxicating agent. He will be defended by Mark Geragos and new legal team member Benjamin Brafman, who led Sean Combs’ successful defense on gun and bribery charges.