News Article

State of Shock

Report: Jacko settled with another 1993 accuser for $2 million. A 12-year-old boy reportedly told investigators at the time that the singer had fondled him

The boy who said Michael Jackson molested him in 1993 may not have been the only one. According an NBC ''Dateline'' report scheduled for broadcast on Friday, another boy told police in 1993 that the singer had touched him inappropriately, fondling him through his clothes. As with the first accuser, Jackson reportedly paid the second boy a multimillion-dollar out-of-court settlement, after which the boy remained silent and did not press criminal charges against the pop star.

Jim Thomas, who was the Santa Barbara sheriff in 1993 and is now an NBC news analyst, told ''Dateline'' that investigators believed that there were as many as eight to 10 boys who might corroborate the first accuser's account with claims of their own. Thomas said that only one boy actually did, the 12-year-old son of a Neverland employee. ''Primarily, what he would admit to was inappropriate touching, something which in California would be a misdemeanor kind of a crime,'' Thomas said. ''But what it did do is that also helped corroborate the other victim. Because you had two boys we don't believe had ever met giving us the same kinds of statements, saying the same things had happened.'' However, Jackson reportedly settled with the boy for $2 million (far less than the $20 million he reportedly paid the first accuser), on the condition that the terms of the settlement remain undisclosed.

The ''Dateline'' report also includes an interview with Norma Salinas, who said she was a housekeeper in the home of the first accuser in 1993 when Jackson paid him a sleepover visit. She told NBC that she made up a trundle bed in the boy's room for the singer to sleep in but found no sign the next morning that anyone had used the guest bed. NBC says it offered Jackson a chance to comment on its reporting but he did not respond. The New York Daily News also solicited a response from a Jackson spokesperson, who declined to comment. The singer has always denied any wrongdoing regarding the first boy's allegations.

How ''Dateline'''s report might affect Jackson's current child molestation case is unclear. In the latest development in that case, Judge Rodney Melville has again denied a defense motion to reduce Jackson's $3 million bail, according to a court ruling made public on Wednesday. After he denied an earlier motion months ago, Jackson's attorneys appealed to a higher court, which sent the motion back to Melville for review. While Melville noted that Jackson has no criminal record, and that the $3 million he posted far exceeded the amount that someone not famous would have had to pay if charged with the same crimes, the judge said that Jackson ''has the financial ability to hire private jets and has frequently traveled beyond the borders of the United States.'' In fact, Melville wrote, secret grand jury testimony ''provides detailed evidence'' that Jackson planned to spirit his current accuser's family to Brazil and accompany them there.

Melville also referred to the 1993 accusations ''that he has previously engaged in similar criminal conduct -- the prosecution of which may have been derailed by a private settlement with the alleged victim.'' Lawyers on both sides of the current case are under a gag order, so there's been no comment from Jackson's team on Melville's ruling. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Originally posted Sep 02, 2004