Former Sheriff: Jackson Paid Other Accuser

The former sheriff of Santa Barbara County says Michael Jackson paid $2 million to the son of an employee at his Neverland Ranch in 1990 to stave off an accusation of child molestation, according to a

The former sheriff of Santa Barbara County says Michael Jackson paid $2 million to the son of an employee at his Neverland Ranch in 1990 to stave off an accusation of child molestation, according to a report by "Dateline NBC."

In a segment set for broadcast tomorrow (Sept. 3), retired Sheriff Jim Thomas, now an NBC news analyst, said his office investigated Jackson in 1993 in connection with one boy's claim and came upon the second accusation.

The first boy reportedly was paid $15 to $20 million by Jackson to avoid charges he thought would damage his career even if proved untrue. Jackson has denied ever harming any child and is currently fighting charges he molested a boy in 2003.

Jackson's lawyer, Thomas Mesereau Jr., did not immediately return a call for comment. Lawyers in the case are under a gag order.

Thomas told "Dateline," "We always believed there were eight to 10 other children out there." But during interviews, he said, "Many of them said that they had spent time with Michael Jackson. They had spent time in his bedroom, but that nothing had happened. Some wouldn't talk to us at all."

Thomas said the employee's son did not file charges and didn't want to testify "because he was afraid his friends would think he was homosexual."

Thomas has previously discussed the boy's claim, but said he could not confirm until now that Jackson had paid the boy $2 million. He did not say how it was confirmed. "Dateline" said the settlement contained a clause barring it from being discussed publicly.

Thomas said the 12-year-old accused Jackson of "fondling him through his clothes," which could be the basis of misdemeanor charges. No charges were ever lodged. Both boys who accused Jackson in the 1990s are now in their 20s and are not expected to testify in the current case.

Jackson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. His trial is set to start Jan. 31.


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