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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 01:27 GMT
Jackson to be charged with abuse
Michael Jackson
Police are negotiating for Jackson to hand himself in
Police in California say they will file multiple charges of child abuse against the pop star Michael Jackson.

Police have issued a warrant for his arrest, and say they are negotiating with his lawyers for the singer to hand himself in.

The move prompted CBS television to cancel a show on Mr Jackson's career.

A spokesman for Mr Jackson - who is reportedly suspected of abusing a 12-year old child - called the allegations "false" and "scurrilous".

"Michael would never harm a child in any way. These scurrilous and totally unfounded allegations will be proven false in a courtroom," Stuart Backerman said on behalf of the singer.

He said Mr Jackson was returning to Santa Barbara immediately.

Deadline

Bail will be set at $3m, Santa Barbara Sheriff Jim Anderson said.

Law enforcement officials told a news conference that they had given Mr Jackson a deadline to hand himself in, but would not say when that was.

Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon
I can assure you that within a very short period of time, multiple counts will be filed
Tom Sneddon,
district attorney
The 45-year-old entertainer is believed to have been shooting a music video in Las Vegas.

About 70 police officers searched Mr Jackson's ranch, Neverland, on Tuesday, looking for "evidence that would corroborate the victim's statements," Sheriff Anderson said.

"We encourage the public to come forward if they have any information to lead us to believe there are other victims in the community," he added.

The investigation is being led by the same district attorney, Tom Sneddon, who looked into similar allegations 10 years ago.

Mr Jackson denied those claims and no charges were ever filed, but the singer made a multi-million dollar out-of-court settlement.

The alleged victim declined to testify in a criminal case after the settlement.

Show axed

Mr Sneddon said California law had changed as a result of the earlier Jackson investigation, and implied that law enforcement authorities had a more co-operative witness this time.

Neverland ranch
Police searched Jackson's luxury ranch Neverland on Tuesday
"This investigation is different from the last investigation," Mr Sneddon said.

"There were never any charges brought in that investigation. I can assure you that within a very short period of time, multiple counts will be filed."

Mr Jackson could face up to eight years in prison per count of abuse.

CBS Television was due to broadcast a special show about the pop star's career next Wednesday.

But the network said in a statement: "Given the gravity of the charges against Mr Jackson, we believe it would be inappropriate at this time to broadcast an entertainment special."

His latest CD, a greatest hits compilation featuring the new single One More Chance, went on sale on Tuesday.

He had a string of huge hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but his popularity has waned in the past decade.


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The BBC's Daniela Relph
"Police have given him time to come forward voluntarily, but as yet, no sign of him"



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