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JACKSON THANKFUL PROBE IS OVER

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Pop superstar Michael Jackson will not face child molestation charges because his key accuser, a 14-year-old boy, will not testify against him, District Attorney Gil Garcetti said Wednesday.

Bringing an end to a lengthy investigation that captured worldwide attention, Garcetti said Wednesday that charges against Jackson could be filed later if the boy changes his mind about testifying before the six-year statute of limitations expires for the crime.The 36-year-old entertainer, who recently married Elvis Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie, said in a statement from New York on Wednesday he was thankful the investigation had ended.

"I've continually maintained my innocence," Jackson said. "I am grateful to all of my family, friends and fans who have stood by me and also believed in my innocence. Lisa Marie and I look forward to getting on with our lives, raising a family, and will never forget the unending outpouring of love from all over the world. God bless you."

Larry Feldman, the attorney for the boy who reached a rumored $15 million settlement with Jackson, said during a Santa Monica news conference that his client decided it would be too traumatic to testify and wants to "get on with his life."

Feldman said Jackson's out-of-court settlement of the boy's civil lawsuit had nothing to do with the decision not to testify.

"There wasn't a deal. There isn't a deal," Feldman said.

Jackson's attorney, Johnnie Cochran Jr., said the district attorney's announcement was a major victory for the embattled star, who was treated for drug addiction and who cut short his "Dangerous" world tour after molestation allegations became public last August.

"I think this matter should be over for everybody," Cochran said. "He will be innocent in everybody's mind."

Garcetti declined to say how strong a case prosecutors had against the singer. But he said the 14-year-old boy was a "credible witness."

The scandal involving the singer began in August 1993 when the boy, then age 13, accused Jackson of seducing him into a five-month sexual relationship.

Garcetti said prosecutors did not learn that the boy would not cooperate until July 6. Earlier, the youth "had indicated his possible willingness to testify," Garcetti said.

The probe into Jackson's conduct was staged by prosecutors and investigators in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties where some of the child abuse was alleged to have occurred at the singer's Neverland ranch.

Approximately 400 witnesses were interviewed and 30 witnesses were called before grand juries in both counties.

Garcetti said the investigation covered two other alleged victims who accused Jackson of sexual misconduct.

One boy, said to be out of the country, was unavailable to investigators. Garcetti also said the boy had at first denied any wrongdoing by Jackson.

The third alleged victim, who has been in therapy since talking to police about Jackson in November 1993, decided not to testify "in consideration of his psychological well-being" and because the other two boys would not be involved in the court case, according to a district attorney's press release.