Michael Jackson arrived by private jet from Las Vegas, was driven to the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s office and handcuffed, booked on molestation charges and posted $3 million bail. After being booked, he posted $3-million bail and was released, flashing a “V” sign before being driven away in a black SUV under police escort. His attorney, Mark Geragos, said Jackson denied the allegations that he had committed “lewd and lascivious” acts on a child under 14. He said Jackson called the charges “a big lie.”

“Michael is here,” Geragos told a swarm of reporters outside the sheriff’s office while Jackson was being processed. “He has come back specifically to combat these charges head-on. He is greatly outraged by these charges, and has authorized me to say the charges are categorically untrue. He looks forward to fighting this in court.”

Authorities would say almost nothing about the case against Jackson, even declining to specify how many charges he faced.

The Sheriff’s Department did release a copy of a booking photograph, in which Jackson’s sunken cheeks and surgically enhanced features appeared to be accentuated by makeup and lipstick. His thick, black, shoulder-length hair hung over and partly obscured his right eye.

Jackson, 45, is listed on the booking sheet as 5-feet-11 and weighing 120 pounds.

A lawyer for the Jackson family has said the case stems from a 12-year-old boy’s charges of molestation during visits to Jackson’s 2,600-acre Neverland Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley.

According to two sources, including a close friend of the boy’s family, the boy alleges that Jackson served him wine and molested him several times last winter. The alleged victim has not been identified by authorities.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorney H. Russell Halpern, however, said Thursday that he has had discussions with the boy’s father, who lost custody after being accused of physically abusing two of his three children. The father pleaded no contest in 2002 to a single count of domestic violence.

Halpern said his client does not have any information about whether Jackson committed the crimes that have been alleged.

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