Report: Jackson Paid $23 Mil to Accuser
Michael Jackson paid as much as $23 million to a boy and his family in January 1994 to settle accusations of child molestation and signed a carefully worded agreement in which he concedes "negligence" but not sexual abuse, according to legal documents obtained by Court TV.
It has long been reported that Jackson, now 45, paid a multimillion-dollar settlement to end a civil lawsuit brought by the boy, but the Court TV findings make the deal public for the first time.
According to terms of the document, which was signed by Jackson and his then-attorneys, Johnnie Cochran and Howard Weitzman, the musician agreed to set up a $15.3 million trust fund for the boy (to become available when the boy turned 18), as well as pay him a seven-figure lump sum.
As the cash is an annuity, it is tax-free, Court TV reporter Diane Dimond said on Wednesday's Today show.
The document also specifies: "This settlement payment is in settlement of claims for alleged compensatory damages for alleged personal injuries arising out of claims of negligence and not for claims of intentional or wrongful acts of sexual molestation."
In reaction to Court TV's report, Jackson spokeswoman Raymone Bain tells Reuters she is in the process of trying to learn if the documents shown on camera were, in fact, "the actual agreement" in that case.
She added the release of the information appeared to be aimed at influencing potential jurors against the entertainer, who is currently headed to trial in Santa Barbara County on a 10-count indictment that charges him with committing lewd acts on a boy under the age of 14 as well as child abduction, extortion and false imprisonment. Jackson has pleaded not guilty.
Added Bain: "That settlement had a very strict confidentiality agreement that was negotiated by parties. We are going to abide by that and not comment."
She further said: "Whoever released this agreement, whether it is the actual agreement or not, did it deliberately and willfully with the intent to influence potential jurors in the current case, which is outrageous and an act of desperation."
According to the court documents, Jackson also agreed to pay the boy's parents $1.5 million each and pay $5 million, plus expenses, to their attorney.
Court TV notes that Jackson also was responsible for his own high-priced lawyers' work on the case.
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