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Michael Jackson charges to be filed on Thursday
( 2003-12-18 11:16) (Agencies)

Pop superstar Michael Jackson, arrested last month for child molestation, will be formally charged on Thursday after weeks of fevered speculation about the latest twist in the life of the self-styled Peter Pan.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's office on Wednesday gave no details of the felony criminal complaint it intends to file against Jackson in state superior court at around 1 p.m. PST (4 p.m. EST) on Thursday.

But prosecutors said at the time of Jackson's arrest in November that the singer would face multiple charges of child molestation.

Jackson's second brush with the law in 10 years over allegations of child molestation follows a day-long raid at his fairy-tale Neverland Ranch outside Santa Barbara in November.

The 45-year-old singer surrendered in handcuffs to an arrest warrant on Nov. 20, and was released the same day after posting a $3 million bond.

Jackson, through his lawyers, has called the allegations a "big lie" and said the accusations were prompted by a desire for financial gain.

In 1994, Jackson reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with the family of a boy who claimed Jackson had sexually molested him. Charges were not brought in that case because the boy refused to testify.

The latest case has provoked a media frenzy over Jackson, a former child star who reached the peak of his career in 1982 with the album "Thriller" -- still one of the best-selling albums of all time.

The charges follow a television documentary broadcast in February in which Jackson showed a British reporter around his Neverland ranch, described himself as "Peter Pan" -- the boy who never grew up -- and talked of having sleepovers with young boys.

Jackson insisted however that there was nothing sexual in those encounters, which he viewed as an innocent form of his professed affection for children.

Prosecutors said last month that formal charges would not be filed until they had set up a Web site to post court documents and handle the huge volume of media inquiries about the case.

They have said Jackson will be charged under a section of California law defining molestation as "arousing, appealing to or gratifying the lust passions or sexual desires" of a child under 14. Each charge carries a penalty of three to eight years in prison.

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