Police armed with a search warrant are remaining at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in central California, and a broadcast report has said officers are also carrying an arrest warrant for the pop superstar.
“The Jackson’s family attorney has confirmed that the Santa Barbara County Sheriff has issued an arrest warrant for Michael Jackson,” NBC Television reported on Wednesday.
Police said without elaboration that they served “a search warrant as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.”
Cable channel Court TV, which broke the story, quoted sources saying there had been a new allegation of sexual abuse brought by a 12-year-old boy against the King of Pop.
In 1994, Jackson reached a multimillion dollar out of court settlement with a 14-year-old boy who accused him of sexual molestation. No criminal charges were brought and Jackson denied any wrongdoing.
“We’ve seen this before; our response is ‘Here we go again;’ Michael has 24-hour-a-day supervision with him for the specific reason to protect him from these claims,” family attorney Brian Oxman told NBC.
A news conference was scheduled for 11 a.m. PST (7 p.m. British time) in Santa Barbara.
Jackson, 45, was not at his ranch. His spokesman said he had been in Las Vegas for three weeks shooting a pop video.
“We cannot comment on law enforcement’s investigation because we do not yet know what it is about. Michael will, as always, cooperate fully with authorities in any investigation even as it is conducted, yet again, while he is not home,” said spokesman Stuart Backerman in a statement.
Jackson lashed out at the “rogues’ gallery of hucksters and inside sources” who dominated the airwaves on Tuesday speculating on the investigation.
“These characters always seem to surface with a dreadful allegation just as another project, an album, a video, is being released,” Jackson said in the statement.
The search warrant was executed on the day that a new greatest hits collection was released, featuring Jackson’s latest single, “One More Chance.”
Sheriff’s deputies and officials from the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office activated the search warrant on Tuesday morning and stayed at the ranch into the night. Jackson has theme-park rides and a zoo there, which he occasionally throws open to local children.
The syndicated TV show Celebrity Justice said the search was prompted by revelations made by a 12-year-old Los Angeles boy in therapy sessions.
Celebrity Justice said the therapist felt compelled to report the information to authorities under a California law requiring health care professionals who “know or reasonably suspect” child abuse to disclose such suspicions.
Tuesday’s search warrant follows a tumultuous year for Jackson, whose talents as an entertainer have been eclipsed by his bizarre personal life.
In February, he revealed in a British television documentary that he sometimes shared his Neverland bedroom with young boys. A 12-year-old cancer survivor called Gavin, spoke of his affection for Jackson and of enjoying sleepovers with the pop star at Neverland.
Jackson later complained that the documentary maker had violated his trust, adding in a statement that he had “never, and would never, treat a child inappropriately or expose them to any harm and totally refutes any suggestions to the contrary.”
In November last year, Jackson stunned fans in Berlin by dangling his barefoot baby from a hotel balcony. In June, he settled a $12 million (7.1 million pound) breach of contract lawsuit by his former top advisor, avoiding a trial that threatened to expose details of his financial empire.