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Warrant pending for Jackson

Grand jury indictment in molestation case remains sealed

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Michael Jackson
Crime, Law and Justice

SANTA BARBARA, California (CNN) -- A bench warrant has been issued for Michael Jackson following his indictment by a grand jury investigating allegations that the pop star molested a 12-year-old boy, a source close to the case said Thursday.

Such warrants are routine, and Jackson won't be arrested unless he fails to appear in Santa Barbara Superior Court for an arraignment April 30, the source said. His attorneys said he would plead not guilty. No trial date has been set.

The indictment returned Wednesday is sealed and the charges won't be officially made public until the arraignment.

The charges in the indictment supersede previous charges. 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)

Following the grand jury action, Jackson's attorneys issued a statement saying they were confident the singer would be "fully exonerated."

Meanwhile, a former spiritual adviser to Jackson said Thursday 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.

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

The charges were filed in December, nearly a month after authorities raided Jackson's Neverland Ranch, his 3,000-acre estate 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 would have been open to the public. Both proceedings are used 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)

A source told CNN the 1993 accuser did not testify, instead opting to appear at a trial.

Among others who testified was psychologist Stan Katz, who interviewed both the latest accuser and the 1993 accuser and in each case reported the allegations to law enforcement officials. Both boys were referred to Katz by Feldman.

Katz talked with the latest accuser as well as his younger brother, and both boys provided details of what allegedly occurred, a source familiar with the case said.

Among other things, it was learned Jackson allegedly served both boys alcohol, the source said.

According to the source, the brother said he allegedly witnessed the entertainer touch the accuser in a sexual way while the boy was sleeping.

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.

Origins of the case

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.

Masada has said he first saw a story on a local television station about a boy who said he had been diagnosed with cancer and his final wish was to meet Jackson.

Masada, who does not know the singer, said he called Neverland Ranch and pleaded with the singer's staff to get the boy's wish granted.

The investigation was launched following a documentary made for Britain's Granada Television by journalist Martin Bashir and broadcast in the United States in February of last year on ABC.

In an interview, 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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