Los Angeles --Michael Jackson's legal team said the pop star will be fully exonerated amid reports he has been indicted on child molestation charges by a Santa Barbara County grand jury.
While authorities did not confirm Wednesday's published reports of the indictment, which was sealed, Jackson's publicist and his legal defense team said in a statement: "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."
Jackson attorney Benjamin Brafman, who issued the statement, stressed Thursday that it was not confirming an indictment was issued and noted that the statement began, "If the grand jury issues an indictment...." A judge has issued a gag order that prohibits attorneys on both sides from discussing the case with the media.
Several newspapers and television networks citing unidentified sources said Wednesday that the grand jury had indicted Jackson. None of the reports included details about the indictments, and there was no official confirmation or announcement.
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.
Four months ago, county prosecutors charged Jackson with seven counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent, reportedly wine. Jackson pleaded innocent in January to those charges and has been free on $3 million bail.
Jackson is scheduled to be arraigned April 30 if the grand jury issues an indictment.
Jackson attorney Mark Geragos, reached by telephone, would not answer questions from The Associated Press.
The district attorney's office also would not comment about the media reports, said Susan Tellem of Tellem Worldwide, hired to handle media inquiries for District Attorney Tom Sneddon in the case. Calls by The Associated Press to Sneddon and others in his office were not immediately returned.
Transcripts of the secret grand jury proceeding will be provided to Jackson's defense team within the next 10 days. The transcripts will then be made public 10 days after that unless Jackson's attorneys can convince a judge doing so would prejudice a future jury pool.
The grand jury has spent the last three weeks hearing from witnesses, including a 14-year-old boy who claims the superstar sexually abused him.
On Wednesday, grand jurors were whisked from the proceedings to the downtown Santa Barbara courthouse in vans with darkened windows. There they met with Sneddon and presiding Superior Court Judge Clifford Anderson.
Meanwhile, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges were being considered against several associates of Michael Jackson for allegedly threatening the family of the boy who has accused Jackson of child molestation, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
An unidentified source close to the case told the Times the charges were under consideration.
Attorney Joseph Tacopina said there had been speculation that two of his clients, Vincent Amen and Frank Tyson, would either be indicted by the grand jury or charged separately with alleged intimidation of witnesses. He denied the allegations and said the two former Jackson employees would not appear before the grand jury.
The attorney said the accusations came from the boy's mother and were "patently false."
Tellem said the district attorney would have no comment because of a gag order.