LATEST: The mother of Michael Jackson's child molestation accuser has pleaded not guilty to welfare fraud and perjury charges.

The 37-year-old woman, accompanied by a defence attorney, entered her plea yesterday (06SEP05), one day earlier than scheduled, in a bid to avoid an expected crush of reporters.

Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner JAMES BIANCO released Janet Jackson with no bail requirement and ordered her to return for a status hearing on 28 October (05).

Prosecutors say the woman formerly known as JANET ARVIZO, whose son GAVIN ARVIZO was the focal point of Jackson's recent trial, defrauded the welfare system of some $18,000 (GBP10,000). She could face more than five years in prison if convicted.

She was called to the witness stand in the Jackson case by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon but refused to testify about her finances or welfare applications on the grounds that doing so could incriminate her.

According to court documents the investigation was prompted by a tip from a private investigator in February (05), after jury selection began in the Jackson trial.

Jackson was acquitted on all counts in his child molestation trial in June (05).