Michael Jackson, the pop superstar whose career has been jeopardized by accusations of child molestation, is on the verge of privately settling a civil suit against him, sources close to Jackson said on Saturday.
Under the agreement, the 13-year-old boy who asserted that Jackson molested him will receive a financial settlement from the millionaire star. In return, the boy will drop his civil suit against Jackson, the sources said.At the same there, there was a likelihood that the criminal case against Jackson might also be set aside because the boy, who is unidentified, would decline to testify against Jackson, the sources said. Under California law, a minor cannot be compelled to testify.
Details of the possible settlement are not known. A London tabloid reported recently that Jackson had agreed to pay the boy more than $40 million. Time magazine is reporting this week that sources close to Jackson called that figure "preposterous" and said the settlement would be closer to $5 million, in the form of cash and a trust fund.
Sources interviewed on Saturday said the settlement figure would not be disclosed.
Should the case against Jackson be dropped, the superstar's career would probably still suffer a setback but would almost certainly continue. Had Jackson been found liable in the civil case - and had he faced a full-scale criminal investigation and trial - his extraordinary career would probably have collapsed.