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Former sheriff: 2nd child claimed in 1993 Jackson molested him

From Art Harris

Michael Jackson addresses the audience during the Radio Music Awards in October.
Michael Jackson addresses the audience during the Radio Music Awards in October.

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Former Santa Barbara Co. Sheriff Jim Thomas said a second child claimed in 1993 that Michael Jackson molested him. CNN's Gary Tuchman reports. (December 5)
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Michael Jackson
Mark Geragos
Tom Sneddon

SANTA BARBARA, California (CNN) -- Former Santa Barbara Sheriff Jim Thomas said there is a second child who claimed in 1993 that Michael Jackson molested him. Those accusations were audiotaped but not videotaped, the sheriff said.

Sources close to the prosecution in the current alleged molestation case against the pop star say that the second alleged 1993 victim could be called to testify, unlike in 1993, when he was much younger and frightened.

District Attorney Tom Sneddon said Thursday he still plans to file charges in mid-December against Jackson for the singer's alleged molestation of another boy more recently. He also scoffed at published reports that speculate the case is weak because charges have not yet been filed.

"Everything will become clear when the charges are filed," Sneddon said.

Jackson, 45, was booked in Santa Barbara on November 20 on suspicion of child molestation and was then released on $3 million bond.

Jackson defense attorney Mark Geragos did not return several phone calls seeking comment about the second alleged victim from 1993, but a source close to the defense told CNN he believes the defense is aware of such claims.

Charges were never filed in 1993 after the first alleged victim dropped out of any criminal proceedings when his family settled with Jackson --- reportedly for millions of dollars.

Thomas, who conducted the decade-old investigation into molestation charges in cooperation with Los Angeles police, told CNN on Thursday the second accuser in 1993, a boy aged 9 or 10 at the time, decided he was too "ashamed" to testify against Jackson, and didn't want his friends to know. The parents also did not want the boy or themselves subjected to a "take no prisoners" defense, Thomas said.

"The child did not want to testify, and we can't force a child to testify, so that never went forward," he said.

A source close to the current prosecution confirmed to CNN there was a second alleged victim in 1993.

Thomas said he believed the second child would have gone forward with the allegations had other alleged victims come forward. He said the case was "strong," but "it would have been up to a jury to decide, and it never got that far."

The allegations by the second child did not go to the same level of molestation as that detailed in a graphic declaration by the first alleged victim in 1993, sources familiar with the audiotaped statement said. But, the same sources described the second claim as credible and said the pattern was similar to how Jackson courted and seduced his "special friends," as investigators referred to the boys.

The former sheriff said a parent of the second boy intervened upon learning of his alleged molestation and severed contact with Jackson. "That parent was angry," said Thomas.

The former sheriff sent investigators all over the country and as far as the Philippines to investigate other reports of sexual molestation.

Sneddon, who was also the district attorney in the 1993 case, presented evidence from that investigation to a Santa Barbara grand jury at the time. But ultimately no formal charges were filed against the pop icon.

Jackson is scheduled to be arraigned January 9 in Santa Barbara Superior Court on the latest allegation. A single count of child molestation can carry a prison sentence of up to eight years.

Jackson and his lawyers say he's innocent and contend that the boy in the current case and his family have brought the allegations for financial gain.

Another source close to the district attorney said Sneddon is leaving the door open if any former alleged victims decide to come forward.

"That's always a possibility," the source said.

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