(Reuters) – Tom Sneddon, a California district attorney who pursued child molestation charges against singer Michael Jackson, has died, a former colleague said on Sunday.
Sneddon, 73, died on Saturday of cancer, said Patrick McKinley, a former deputy district attorney in Santa Barbara County, who worked with Sneddon for nearly 30 years. McKinley said Sneddon’s wife informed him of the death.
Sneddon explored allegations in 1993 that Jackson had molested a boy. Before any charges could be filed, the boy’s family reached a financial settlement with the singer.
In 2005, Jackson was acquitted on multiple charges of molesting a 13-year-old boy after a highly publicized trial.
Sneddon pursued the second Jackson case as he would any other, despite the outcome of the 1993 case, McKinley said.
“There is this thought out there that Tom was itching for his chance to get Michael Jackson, that it was his life’s ambition and dream come true,” McKinley said.
But that assumption was false, he said.
“He was anything but relishing it, he was dreading it,” McKinley said of the high-profile nature of the case.
After the acquittal, Sneddon moved on to other cases undaunted, McKinley said.
“He never missed a beat,” McKinley said. “There was so much more to Tom Sneddon than Michael Jackson. I don’t think you will find a deputy district attorney who ever worked for him who said that the guy showed favoritism or didn’t know what he was doing.”
Jackson died in 2009.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Mo.; Editing by Victoria Cavaliere and Peter Cooney)