Jackson team objects to Thomas’ comments

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Jackson team objects to Thomas’ comments Motion questions ex-sheriff’s compliance with judge’s gag order 9/8/04 By DAWN HOBBS NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER Michael Jackson’s defense lawyers are attempting to silence former Sheriff Jim Thomas through a motion filed Tuesday questioning whether his comments to the media about the current and decade-old child molestation cases against their client violates a court gag order. “Repeatedly, former Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas has been cited as a source of information that is either under seal or subject to this court’s protective order,” defense co-counsel Robert Sanger stated in the request for sanctions. Mr. Thomas, who was sheriff when a 1993 child molestation investigation against Mr. Jackson was under way, was hired as an NBC news consultant shortly after law enforcement officers raided the entertainer’s Neverland Valley Ranch in November 2003. The defense motion did not mention Friday’s “Dateline” segment during which Mr. Thomas commented about the 1993 case, but the motion was filed on the first business day following the broadcast. The defense motion states that public comments made by Mr. Thomas “indicate he is receiving information from the Sheriff’s Department and revealing that information on television and to the print media.” However, the defense motion offers no examples to back up that claim. Mr. Thomas, who has been out of town, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. It’s not clear whether he is subject to the gag order, which was requested by the prosecution and approved by Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville in January. The order prohibits anyone associated with the current case, including lawyers, law enforcement officers or witnesses, from commenting to the media. “The prosecution has not responded to inquiry regarding whether Mr. Thomas is bound by the protective order,” Mr. Sanger said. “As the result of recent public commentary by Mr. Thomas, it is incumbent upon defense counsel to bring the matter to this court’s attention.” On “Dateline,” Mr. Thomas said law enforcement officers thought there had been multiple victims in the 1993 case. One did surface, but Mr. Thomas said the boy declined to testify when the first accuser of Mr. Jackson pulled out. The decade-old case crumbled when the accuser accepted a $20 million settlement and refused to testify. Mr. Thomas said that was frustrating for law enforcement because they were concerned that there were more victims. Mr. Jackson has acknowledged settling with “certain individuals” rather than fighting the matter in court. Mr. Thomas, who is retired, regularly appears on cable’s MSNBC news programs commenting on developments in the case from a law enforcement perspective. Source: http://comm.newspress.com/npcommerce/registerForm.htf?hst=news.newspress.com&fwd=%2Ftopsports%2F090804jackson.htm

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