Michael Jackson will stand trial over the alleged sexual abuse of a teenage cancer sufferer, it has been decided.
It was reported today that the pop star had been indicted by a grand jury sitting in Santa Barbara, California, investigating the claims.
The 19-member panel spent 13 days considering whether there was enough evidence to charge Jackson, 45.
Jackson has called the allegations a “big lie”, and has denied molesting the boy at the Neverland Ranch in California in February and March last year.
The indictment, brought yesterday, means Jackson’s case will proceed straight to Santa Barbara Superior Court for trial, according to ABC, NBC and CNN television.
It means there will be no pre-trial hearing, which would review the validity of the evidence.
Jackson may be asked to enter a new plea in the new proceedings. He has already entered a not-guilty plea.
After the court appearance, the judge will set a date for trial.
Jackson is currently free onbail from his previous arraignment.
Yesterday, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges were being considered against Jackson’s associates for allegedly threatening the family of the boy who accused the star of child molestation.
Lawyer 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.
Mr Tyson, who was Jackson’s personal assistant, has been accused of threatening to kill the younger brother of Jackson’s alleged victim if he revealed to authorities that Jackson had given the boy alcohol, Mr Tacopina said.
Mr Amen, who worked for Jackson’s production company, was accused of holding the family at Jackson’s Neverland estate against its will, he said.
The lawyer said the accusations came from the boy’s mother and were “patently false.”
On Tuesday it was claimed that Jackson abused the boy after allegedly plying him with so much wine he passed out.
ABC news, citing a psychologist’s interview notes with the accuser and his brother, also said Jackson showed his alleged victim pornography on a computer.
If anyone asked what they were doing when they were alone together they should say they were watching The Simpsons, the 45-year-old pop star allegedly told them.
Psychologist Stan Katz interviewed the accuser and his younger brother at the request of the family’s lawyer. The notes were passed to the police for their report.
According to ABC, the younger of the two boys told Dr Katz that Jackson served them wine, and on two occasions his cancer-stricken brother passed out.
The younger brother said Jackson then touched the alleged victim, then aged 12, inappropriately.
According to the police report the psychologist asked the alleged victim if Jackson engaged in sexual activity in front of him, but the boy started crying and refused to answer.
The boy’s younger brother, who was aged nine at the time of the alleged offences, was the only one who described the alleged touching.
Jackson, a father of three, has denied seven counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under age 14, and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to the child.
Doubts have been raised about the credibility of Jackson’s accuser – social workers in California investigated the same concerns last year and called them “unfounded” in a confidential memo which was leaked.
Jackson’s lawyers are expected to argue that the accusations were made in an attempt to get cash from the pop star.