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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

Interview with Adam Roseman

Aired December 20, 2003 - 09:18   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, moving on, there is a party at Michael Jackson's house, but not everyone is invited. About 300 friends and relatives are expected to be on hand for a gathering at Neverland ranch later today, and after that party, Jackson will then zip off to England to promote his new album. He will be arraigned January 16 on child molestation charges.
Well, now that the charges have been officially filed against Jackson, the legal maneuvering and public relations battles have begun.

Joining us to put all this in perspective, Adam Rosman, a former federal prosecutor.

Adam, thanks very much for joining us here this morning.

ADAM ROSMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Good morning, Sean.

CALLEBS: Let's quickly talk about these charges. Very serious, seven charges of molestation, and also two other charges that he may have supplied some kind of intoxicant, whether it be a drink or perhaps a drug, to a child. From everything I'm hearing at this point, they believe it was wine.

ROSMAN: Right. Yes, they are serious charges. He could face up to 20 years in prison on the charges alone, or more, depending on special circumstances that the government may or may not prove. The government's theory is that Jackson used allegedly this wine so that he could entice the 13-year-old boy to watch Jackson perform whatever acts he's alleged to have performed. Very serious charges.

CALLEBS: And also the fact that he's received his passport and now is going to England. Does that surprise you, or is this a good- faith effort by the court that they believe someone of his notoriety certainly isn't going to vanish into thin air?

ROSMAN: Right, he's not a -- he's not any reasonable flight risk. I mean, he's one of the most-recognized people in the world. I don't think anyone is really concerned that Michael Jackson is not going to show up for arraignment on January 16. It doesn't surprise me that he was allowed to go.

CALLEBS: A lot of talk about Jackson's three children. What do you think legally could happen to them? Could they be taken away from him?

ROSMAN: Well, they could be. But the standard is whether Jackson is unfit to be a parent, and what's in the best interests of the child. And you have to remember that at this point, the allegations are unproven. They are allegations only. So it's unlikely, unless evidence surfaces that he is unfit to be a parent now, that the children will be taken away from him. I think they'll probably stay with him, at least for the time being.

CALLEBS: You know, so much has been made about the report that has surfaced that I guess earlier in the year the state of California launched its investigation and apparently found no reason to pursue criminal charges at that time. But now we're hearing this child, this teenager, is willing to take the stand in this case. What is that going to mean?

ROSMAN: It's a strange development. And the defense is going to really focus on this, because the report was issued, or the interview occurred, right in the middle of the period when Jackson is alleged to have committed these crimes. And in that interview, at least, the 13- year-old said that these allegations were untrue.

So the defense is really going to focus on that piece of evidence. And it's strange that Jackson, knowing full well, apparently, that these interviews were occurring...

CALLEBS: Right, right.

ROSMAN: ... would have continued to do this alleged conduct. So it's going to be a key focus in the trial.

CALLEBS: Now, if this child takes the stand, it seems like the defense has a fine line to walk, because they can't be perceived as a bully attacking this child. But then again, you know, Jackson has so much at stake that certainly Mark Geragos, his attorney, is going to do everything in his power to attack the credibility.

ROSMAN: Yes. The harsh reality is, is, once this trial starts, if it does start, and that 13-year-old takes the stand, Mark Geragos is going to do everything he can to attack the child's credibility, because that is going to be the central piece of evidence in the government's case. He does have to walk a fine line, though, because the jury is obviously, well, or presumably, going to feel some sympathy for the child.

CALLEBS: Boy, this has all the makings of a very unpleasant few months ahead. Adam Rosman...

ROSMAN: Indeed.

CALLEBS: ... thanks very much for joining us from Washington this morning. Appreciate it.

ROSMAN: Good to be here.

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