The star, due in court Monday, meets with children at L.A.'s First AME Church

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated August 16, 2004 08:35 AM

Michael Jackson, who’s due to appear in court for his child molestation case on Monday, spent Sunday making a surprise visit to a South Los Angeles church and met with about 35 kids.

Jackson, wearing a dark blue velvet jacket with a gold armband on one sleeve, dropped in on the First AME Church with his attorney, Tom Mesereau Jr., brother Randy and comedian Steve Harvey, reports the Associated Press, noting that questions from the press were not permitted.

But one little girl asked the 45-year-old star if she and the other children could visit Jackson’s Neverland ranch. He replied: “You’re welcome to come anytime.”

Also on Sunday, CBS News reported that the California attorney general’s office concluded that, despite Jackson’s claims on “60 Minutes,” he was not “manhandled” by sheriff’s deputies who took him into custody last year.

Jackson said in an interview that deputies deliberately handcuffed him in a way they knew was “going to hurt.” He also claimed that his shoulder was dislocated, though it was quickly noted at the time that Jackson was still able to wave to fans.

Jackson’s lawyer, Thomas Mesereau Jr., declined Sunday to discuss the attorney general’s investigation, citing a court-imposed gag order.

The focus of Monday’s pre-trial hearing is on Santa Barbara County DA Thomas Sneddon and his actions in the weeks before the charges were filed. The defense claims the prosecutor invaded the sanctity of the attorney-client privilege between Jackson and his former attorney when he conducted personal surveillance of a private investigator’s office.

Jackson is expected to be accompanied by his family in court Monday: parents Joseph and Katherine, and siblings Janet, LaToya, Jermaine and Jackie.

Jackson is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on $3 million bail.