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Grand jury indicts Jackson



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CNN's Miguel Marquez on a grand jury's indictment of Michael Jackson.
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SANTA BARBARA, California (CNN) -- A grand jury investigating allegations that pop star Michael Jackson molested a 12-year-old boy indicted him Wednesday. The charges in the indictment were not immediately known.

His attorneys said he would plead not guilty at his next court date, April 30, in Santa Barbara Superior Court. A preliminary hearing had been scheduled for April 30, but it now expected to be an arraignment.

No trial date has been set.

Jackson, 45, pleaded not guilty in January to seven felony counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 and two counts of giving the child an "intoxicating agent." (Full story)

His lawyers issued a statement saying they were confident Jackson would be "fully exonerated."

"We also remind the public that Michael Jackson, like any other person accused of a crime, is presumed to be innocent," said the statement from Mark Geragos, Robert Sanger, Benjamin Brafman and Steve Cochran.

"Michael is looking forward to his day in court and wishes to thank the millions of fans throughout the world who continue to support him during this difficult period."

Meanwhile, a former spiritual adviser to Jackson on CNN Thursday said he was concerned about a deterioration in the pop superstar's life, criticizing Jackson for his "self-absorption." (Full story)

The 19-member grand jury convened March 29 and met for 13 days to decide whether there was enough evidence to indict the singer. (Full story)

In the criminal complaint, prosecutors say the incidents for which the singer has been charged took place in February and March 2003 when the boy was 12.

Thomas Sneddon Jr., Santa Barbara County district attorney, said the complaint includes special allegations that could make Jackson ineligible for probation if convicted in the case, which grew out of an investigation launched following a documentary on the pop singer broadcast by ABC.

The complaint contends that Jackson "had substantial sexual contact with John Doe."

The charges against Jackson were filed in December, nearly a month after authorities raided his house at Neverland, his 3,000-acre ranch in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles. He has been free on $3 million bond since his formal arrest last November.

An array of witnesses

The closed-door grand jury proceedings replaced a preliminary hearing, which is open to the public. Both proceedings are to determine whether there is enough evidence for a case to go to trial.

Grand jurors heard from more than a dozen witnesses, including the boy, his brother, mother and father and the mother's two attorneys, Larry Feldman and William Dickerman. (Full story)

Feldman represented another boy, 13 at the time, who leveled similar accusations against Jackson in 1993. The singer resolved that case out of court in a multimillion-dollar settlement, and no charges were filed. (Full story)

Psychologist Stan Katz, who reported the current child molestation allegations to law enforcement officials, also testified, sources said.

Katz said the allegations surfaced during a therapy session with Jackson's accuser, who had been referred to him by Feldman.

Feldman also referred the 1993 accuser to Katz, who reported those allegations to authorities.

Sources said other witnesses from the 1993 case appeared before the grand jury as well, indicating prosecutors might have been attempting to establish a pattern of behavior by Jackson.

Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory nightclub and the man who claims to have facilitated the introduction of Jackson to the latest alleged victim, likewise testified, said another source familiar with the case.

To encourage two former Jackson employees to testify before the jury, prosecutors considered bringing charges against them of intimidating the family of the alleged victim, the source said.

Further allegations being investigated

Earlier this month, Los Angeles police said they were investigating new allegations of child abuse against Jackson from the 1980s.

One of the singer's lawyers said he expected the story will eventually be proved false, and a source told CNN there were "doubts" about whether the accuser was ever with the entertainer.

The one-paragraph statement from police said they were contacted by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office in March. (Full story)

Geragos and Brafman called the new allegations a "smear campaign."

In a documentary made for Britain's Granada Television by journalist Martin Bashir, which was broadcast in the United States in February of last year on ABC, Jackson said he still allowed children to stay with him in his bedroom, despite the notoriety of the 1993 case.

"Why can't you share your bed? The most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone," Jackson says in the documentary.

"You say, 'You can have my bed if you want it. Sleep in it. I'll sleep on the floor. It's yours.' I always give the beds to the company."

CNN's Dree De Clamecy contributed to this report.


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