Michael Jackson left the courthouse in Santa Barbara County, Calif., Monday just as he entered it 15 weeks ago, a free but somber man waving to fans and blowing a kiss, after a jury rejected charges that he repeatedly molested a 13-year-old boy, gave him alcohol and held him and his family captive at Neverland ranch.

The jury of eight women and four men concluded that the evidence was not sufficient beyond any reasonable doubt that Jackson was a predatory child molester who groomed his alleged victim with liquor and porn and then groped him. The jurors found him not guilty on all 10 counts.

"The evidence said it all," said one of the jurors, a middle-age mother. "We had a closet full of evidence that made us come back to the same thing -- that there wasn't enough" to convict. "Things didn't add up," she said.

In comments after the verdict, the jurors did not call Jackson's young accuser a liar, but the foreman described the teenager as programmed by his mother.

It was a stinging rebuke against the case brought by the Santa Barbara County prosecutors and sheriff's investigators, but it was a virtual moment of rebirth for the pop singer, who had faced the possibility of leaving the courthouse in a sheriff's van on his way to jail or prison for as long as 18 years if he had been found guilty on all charges.

Jackson returned to his ranch, a 2,600-acre estate in the nearby foothills, as fans and the media trailed behind and camped out at its gates.

What Jackson will do next is unknown. The taint of the charges may linger, but his attorneys and entourage have repeatedly described the case against him as an attempt to shake down the singer for money by a family of, according to Jackson's defense attorney, "con artists, actors and liars."

-- William Booth

Michael Jackson acknowledges his supporters at the conclusion of his 15-week trial.