SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Pop superstar Michael Jackson and his legal team have reached a deal for his surrender to Santa Barbara County authorities, his attorney said Thursday.
Lawyer Mark Geragos (search) said he'd negotiated with law enforcement officials for the singer to turn himself in to face multiple counts of child molestation. A warrant for Jackson's arrest was issued Wednesday.
"I have made arrangements with the sheriff and the district attorney for Mr. Jackson to come back and confront these charges," Geragos told The Associated Press.
Geragos wouldn't specify when Jackson would return to Santa Barbara County, but unconfirmed reports suggest the King of Pop could turn himself in as early as 11:30 a.m. (PST) Thursday.
A gaggle of camera crews and news reporters awaited his possible arrival at county jails and area airports.
Reports of a Thursday surrender had been circulating since the previous night. Prosecutors said they would ask that bail be set at $3 million.
"I can confirm that he has not been arrested," Sgt. Chris Pappas of the sheriff's department said late Wednesday. "We don't see any further developments occurring tonight."
Jackson left Las Vegas in his private jet Wednesday, but his pilot did not file a flight plan and the plane's destination was unknown, according to published reports. Authorities and a swarm of media awaited his arrival in vain at the small Santa Barbara airport.
The 12-year-old cancer patient at the center of the Michael Jackson child molestation scandal may have confessed to his psychiatrist that the pop singer plied him with wine and sleeping pills when he allegedly molested him, sources told Foxnews.com's Roger Friedman.
Sources also told Friedman that Jackson's camp has been preparing to face such accusations for months.
They plan to hold the boy's mother up to severe scrutiny, and will likely argue that when Jackson tried to end his financial support of the boy and his family, the mother became, quoting a Jackson insider, "a scorned woman."
"She's very screwed up," said one source. "There's videotape of her acting weird, too. And Michael was very kind to her, even getting an apartment for her boyfriend."
Jackson's team's argument will be, according to sources, that when the boy's mother was told by Jackson's people that the free ride was over, she ran to a lawyer.
The "King of Pop" amassed a half-billion-dollar fortune over the past 20 years, but his former financial advisers said in a lawsuit last spring that he is saddled with debt and teetering near bankruptcy. Current financial advisers have denied that claim.
But another source told Fox News that the boy's family wasn't looking for any monetary settlement but instead wanted justice served through the court system. The family was said to be in seclusion, according to the source.
Negotiating a Surrender
Brian Oxman, who has been an attorney for the Jackson family for years but is not directly representing Michael Jackson in this case, said Thursday that Jackson and attorney Mark Geragos (search) were working on the timing of the surrender. Geragos is also the defense attorney in the Laci Peterson murder case.
"They will choose their own time and their own place to do this," Oxman said on a morning television news show. "It will be designed to be as quick as possible from their own perspective."
A family friend, Steve Manning, told another morning television news show Thursday that Jackson's family came to Las Vegas to support him.
"He feels he's been wrongly accused and he's going to fight this tooth and nail," Manning said. "He's at war right now and he's going to use any weapon he has to fight these charges."
His arrest warrant set bail at $3 million and Jackson was directed to give up his passport, authorities said.
"Get over here and get checked in," District Attorney Thomas W. Sneddon Jr. advised the King of Pop at a news conference broadcast worldwide Wednesday.
The 45-year-old singer was in Las Vegas when dozens of law enforcement agents swarmed his Neverland Ranch compound Tuesday to serve a search warrant. The raid lasted more than 14 hours.
Search warrants were also served at two California film and video companies; still photographs and videotape of Jackson with children were found, Fox News learned.
During the searches, Jackson was filming a music video with R&B singer R. Kelly (search), US Weekly magazine told Fox News on Wednesday.
Jackson left Las Vegas in his private jet on Wednesday, according to reports in Thursday's Los Angeles Times and Santa Barbara News-Press.
He was escorted by Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies to his own jet and flew from a private terminal at the McCarran International Airport, according to an airport security guard the Times did not name. The News-Press said Jackson's pilot had not filed a flight plan and neither newspaper reported where the jet was headed.
Jackson is charged by the state with lewd or lascivious acts with a child under age 14, punishable by three to eight years in prison, law enforcement officials said.
"Michael would never harm a child in any way," Jackson spokesman Stuart Backerman said in a statement. "These scurrilous and totally unfounded allegations will be proven false in a courtroom."
This is the second child molestation accusation brought against the pop singer in the past decade. The earlier charge, in 1993, was dropped when the 13-year-old boy refused to testify. Jackson maintained his innocence but reportedly paid a $20 million settlement the following year and the case became inactive.
Since then — and because of that case specifically — the law in California has changed regarding young victims of sexual abuse. Now they can be forced to testify. In this case, the victim is cooperating with authorities, according to Sneddon.
He added that multiple counts would be filed against Jackson "in a very short period of time" and noted that no civil case had been filed and none was expected, unlike in 1993.
Earlier Wednesday, authorities said they were negotiating Jackson's surrender with his lawyers, which Anderson said must happen within "a specified period of time." He declined to say how long that would be.
"I believe he's willing to cooperate with us," the sheriff said.
A 12-Year-Old Victim?
The arrest warrant is for a violation of Section 288(a) of the California Penal Code (search), which prohibits lewd or lascivious acts with a child under age 14, according to Sneddon.
Sneddon would not say when or where the alleged crimes took place or how old the child was. He said an affidavit outlining the details will be sealed for 45 days.
But Oxman said the case involves the alleged molestation of a 12-year-old boy at Neverland Ranch, the storybook playground where the singer has been known to hold sleepover parties with children.
In a documentary broadcast on ABC earlier this year, Jackson said he had slept in a bed with many children.
"When you say bed you're thinking sexual," he said in the interview. "It's not sexual, we're going to sleep. I tuck them in. ... It's very charming, it's very sweet."
Sneddon said authorities were seeking other victims of sexual abuse by Jackson, and asked for the public's help in finding them.
If convicted, Jackson could face three to eight years for a single count of molestation, and two years each for any subsequent count.
"I'm sad that there's another victim out there. I feel bad for the family and bad for the victim," said Sneddon, who was also the district attorney in the first child abuse case against Jackson.
Jackson, in a statement Tuesday, noted that the allegations surfaced the same day his new greatest-hits CD, "Number Ones," was released, but the district attorney dismissed any connection.
"Like the sheriff and I are really into that kind of music," Sneddon said.
The announcement of the arrest warrant came at an often-jovial news conference with Sneddon and Sheriff Jim Anderson. The district attorney looked sheepish after gesturing so forcefully that he knocked over a news microphone.
Sneddon said service of the warrant was delayed because authorities were busy dealing with thousands of college students who descend on Santa Barbara for Halloween.
"We've been ready to do this for some time," the district attorney said. "This has nothing to do with anything else going on in his life."
Asked about parents who let their children go to Neverland for sleep-overs, Anderson responded, "My advice is don't do it."
The remark drew laughter, and Sneddon added, "None of our kids are there."
Backerman blasted law enforcement in the statement he released on behalf of the pop singer.
"We are disturbed by the levity of the environment surrounding the announcement of these very serious charges," Backerman said. "When the evidence is presented and the allegations proven to be malicious and wholly unfounded, Michael will be able to put this nightmare behind him."
On Wednesday, CBS pulled a Jackson music special planned for next Wednesday featuring the entertainer's greatest hits and looking at his impact on pop culture.
The former child star got his start with his brothers as a member of the singing-and-dancing group Jackson 5.
"Given the gravity of the charges against Mr. Jackson, we believe it would be inappropriate at this time to broadcast an entertainment special," the network said.
The singer had international hits with the albums "Thriller" (1982), "Bad" (1987) and "Dangerous" (1991), but saw his career begin to collapse after the 1993 allegations.
Jackson has appeared weak and ghostly pale at many of his recent public appearances, and his own attorneys have said he has been involved in nearly 1,000 lawsuits.
Fox News' Jennifer D'Angelo, Catherine Donaldson-Evans, Roger Friedman, Trace Gallagher, Marla Lehner, Anita Vogel, Paul Wagenseil and The Associated Press contributed to this report.