Pop star Michael Jackson has been indicted by a California jury in connection with allegations the singer molested a 12-year-old boy on his Neverland estate.
The precise charges were not released, but Jackson’s attorneys say the entertainer will plead not guilty on April 30 when arraigned in Santa Barbara Superior Court.
“Mr. Jackson and his attorneys are confident that after a trial on these charges, Mr. Jackson will be fully exonerated and that the allegations contained in the indictment will be shown to be patently false,” a statement from Jackson’s lawyers says on the star’s website.
“In this case, Mr. Jackson is not just ‘presumed’ to be innocent but is in fact innocent. 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.”
The grand jury has spent three weeks hearing testimony from witnesses, including a 14-year-old boy who claims the “King of Pop” sexually abused him when he was 12.
Michael Jackson’s mug shot
The 45-year-old Jackson was taken into custody last November on child-molestation charges, and has since pleaded not guilty to seven counts of lewd acts upon a child and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent.
During a 2003 television documentary first aired in Britain and later the U.S., Jackson admitted that he loves to have young boys sleep in his bed.
“It’s what the whole world should do,” Jackson told interviewer Martin Bashir, adding “… whenever kids come here they always want to stay with me. They say: ‘Can I stay with you tonight?’ So I go, ‘If it’s OK with your parents, then yes you can.’”
“Why can’t you share your bed?” Jackson continued. “The most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone.”
According to Fox News, the grand jury indictment supersedes the criminal case, which means prosecutors can skip a preliminary hearing and go straight to trial, though no trial date has been set.