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"In the spirit of love and togetherness, Michael Jackson would like to invite his fans and supporters to his Neverland Ranch. Please join us Friday, Jan. 16, 2004, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Refreshments will be served. We'll see you there."
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Singer Comes to Court, Greets Adoring Fans, Announces Open House at Neverland
Michael Jackson supporters converged on the Santa Maria courthouse this morning, along with the international media, for the pop star’s arraignment on charges he molested a child.

Busloads of fans traveled from L.A. and Las Vegas on a "Caravan of Love'' to show their support. Jackson was charged last month with seven counts of performing lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent, reportedly wine. He was freed on $3 million bail. New York attorney Benjamin Brafman, a principal of the firm that won acquittal for Sean "P. Diddy'' Combs on bribery and weapons charges in 2001, joined the defense team as co-counsel yesterday. 

Jackson was 20 minutes late to the courthouse in Santa Maria, where he pleaded not guilty.  The hearing was scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. Pacific time and Jackson was already running 10 minutes late after he emerged from a black S-U-V, waving to the 200 -300 fans who had gathered to support him.

Jackson was then reprimanded by the judge for his lateness.  According to Associated Press, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville called it "an insult to the court" and told Jackson he "will not put up with that."  Jackson's next court date is Feb. 13 (a Friday), where a date for the preliminary hearing will be set. Among those that arrived with Jackson included his parents, his brothers, his sister Janet Jackson  and comedian Eddie Griffin.

After his arraignment was complete, Jackson, flanked by his legal team, family and supporters, emerged from the courthouse hand-in-hand with his mother Katherine and sister Janet. He then walked through the crowds of waiting press and fans under his trademark black umbrella. Before leaving the grounds, Jackson climbed up on top of the SUV to wave to fans and have his personal camera man take footage of the cheering crowd. 

Jackson was in a hearty mood, clapping to the beat of his music that was playing from somewhere in the background. Meanwhile, invitations for a gathering at Neverland directly after the proceedings were handed out to the hundreds of fans that read: "In the spirit of love and togetherness, Michael Jackson would like to invite his fans and supporters to his Neverland Ranch.  Please join us Friday, Jan. 16, 2004, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Refreshments will be served.  We'll see you there."

As the motorcade left the courthouse grounds, hundreds of fans spilled into the streets and ran alongside Jackson's SUV while his personal security and local police attempted to keep fans away from the vehicles.

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