- A conspiracy charge against Michael Jackson (news) signals a new direction in the case, one that could include indictments for other people accused of conspiring with the singer to commit the crimes of abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
....The grand jury indictment said Jackson conspired with "other uncharged co-conspirators and co-conspirators," but the judge ordered that the parts of the indictment identifying them be removed before it was publicly released. The defense and prosecutors declined to say Friday who else may be arrested.
....The conspiracy count could be a significant problem for the defense because the burden of proof is easier for prosecutors to meet than it is in the molestation counts, yet the punishment can be just as severe, said Loyola University law professor Laurie Levenson.
She said Jackson could be acquitted of the molestation charges but still convicted of conspiring to abduct the child and his family, falsely imprison them and commit extortion by threatening grave consequences if they accused him, Levenson said.
"It's not the crime you commit. It's what you do to cover it up," she said.
In addition, any co-conspirators could strike a deal with prosecutors to testify against Jackson, said Dan Simon, an associate professor of law at the University of Southern California.
Levenson and Simon cautioned the added charges could backfire if jurors interpret them as signs of excessive zeal on the part of the prosecution.
The alleged victim was identified as "John Doe" and a witness to some alleged molestation was identified as "James Doe." A source close to the case said the witness was the accuser's brother, who stayed with Jackson and the boy at Neverland.