Tom Sneddon, the former district attorney who sought twice to try Michael Jackson on child molestation charges and was disparaged in one of the pop star’s songs, has died.
Sneddon died Saturday at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital after a battle with cancer, said Patrick McKinley, a retired assistant district attorney for Santa Barbara County. Sneddon was 73.
“I don’t think you will find a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office who worked for him who has one bad thing to say about him. He was just a helluva boss,” said McKinley, who worked with Sneddon for more than three decades.
“He wasn’t afraid to make a decision,” he said. “He would make a decision and away we’d go.”
McKinley said he learned of Sneddon’s death from Sneddon’s wife.
News of Sneddon’s death was first reported by the Santa Barbara News-Press.
Sneddon investigated Michael Jackson on child sexual abuse allegations in 1993 and again a decade later. The first case fell apart after a young boy’s family accepted a multimillion dollar settlement from Jackson and declined to testify against him.
The probe closed with no charges. Jackson shot back in a thinly disguised swipe at the prosecutor in a song called “D.S.” on the “HIStory” album. The song contains the lyrics, “Dom Sheldon is a cold man.”
A second set of allegations against Jackson made by a young cancer survivor resulted in a televised trial in 2005 which ended with Jackson being acquitted.