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Jacko Slams Leak On $23M Payout

Michael Jackson issued a statement Thursday criticizing whomever was responsible for leaking documents that disclosed the settlement terms in a 1993 civil case accusing him of child molestation.

The records, obtained by Court TV on Tuesday, said Jackson had agreed to pay $15.3 million to a boy who claimed the singer molested him. The singer, who faces trial in Santa Maria for allegedly molesting another boy in 2002, said he would never harm a child and said he had reluctantly agreed to the 1993 settlement because of the case's potential to harm his career.

"I respect the obligation of confidentiality imposed on all of the parties to the 1993 proceedings. Yet, someone has chosen to violate the confidentiality of those proceedings," Jackson said in the statement. "Whoever is now leaking this material is showing as much disrespect for the Santa Maria court's gag order as they are a determination to attack me."

Jackson also said no one has opened an investigation into the leaks, and urged the public to see the leaks "for what they are."

"These kinds of attacks and leaks seek to try the case in the press, rather than to a jury who will hear all of the evidence that will show that I did not, and would not, ever, harm a child," the singer said. "I have always maintained my innocence, and vehemently denied that these events ever took place."

CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen notes the legal language is standard for any settlement agreement.

"Jackson's lawyers never would have allowed him to pay all that money without language that says it's not an admission of any wrongdoing. But that admission isn't objective proof that nothing happened; in fact, prosecutors likely will argue that the settlement is financial proof that something did,'' says Cohen.

"This is a devastating leak for Jackson because it's likely that those in his jury pool will hear about this reported settlement long before they know that they may be called to duty in his case," Cohen says. "And that knowledge clearly will have a negative impact on Jackson's image with those potential jurors."

In the current case, Jackson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol, and conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

The next court date in the case is June 25. Jackson is not expected to attend the hearing.

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