LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson (search) issued a statement Thursday criticizing whoever was responsible for leaking documents that disclosed the settlement terms in a 1993 civil case accusing him of child molestation.
The records, obtained by Court TV (search) on Tuesday, said Jackson had agreed to pay $15.3 million to a boy who claimed the singer molested him. Jackson, who faces trial in Santa Maria (search) for allegedly molesting another boy in 2003, said he would never harm a child and said he had reluctantly agreed to the settlement because of the case's potential to harm his career.
"I respect the obligation of confidentiality imposed on all of the parties to the 1993 proceedings. Yet, someone has chosen to violate the confidentiality of those proceedings," Jackson said. "Whoever is now leaking this material is showing as much disrespect for the Santa Maria court's gag order as they are a determination to attack me."
He urged the public to see the leaks "for what they are."
"These kinds of attacks and leaks seek to try the case in the press, rather than to a jury who will hear all of the evidence that will show that I did not, and would not, ever, harm a child," Jackson said. "I have always maintained my innocence, and vehemently denied that these events ever took place."
The civil settlement in the 1993 case has been widely reported, but Tuesday was the first time documents were available showing the specific figure. The boy, his family and Jackson agreed to keep the settlement confidential, according to the document.
In the current case, Jackson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol, and conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
The next court date in the case is June 25. Jackson is not expected to attend the hearing.