Pop star Michael Jackson has been indicted by a California grand jury investigating child sex abuse charges, sources tell CBS News.
In a statement, Jackson's attorneys, while not confirming the indictment, said, "Mr. Jackson will be fully exonerated and the allegations contained in the indictment will be shown to be patently false."
Jackson is expected to enter a plea of not guilty next Friday. His attorneys claim the singer is looking forward to his day in court, reports CBS News Correspondent Hattie Kauffman.
The indictment will probably remain sealed until the date of the arraignment.
There were originally nine charges against Jackson: seven counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14, and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent, believed to be wine.
Jackson pled not guilty to those allegations. The indictment could include more or fewer charges than were originally leveled at the pop icon.
Sources tell CBS News, the grand jury — meeting in unprecedented secrecy, arriving and leaving in unmarked vans — heard testimony from the victim, as well as his mother, brother, sister, and other family friends.
CBS News legal analyst Trent Copeland says the indictment means the Jackson case "will move on the fast track toward trial."
"I think it also has a political overtone to it," Copeland said. "We talk a lot about politicians getting a bump in the polls whenever they win a primary. I think Tom Sneddon, the prosecution in this case, is going to get a bump in the poll, the bump in public opinion … for having a grand jury find that a crime has been committed and that Michael Jackson should return to trial."
The district attorney's office would not comment about the media reports, said Susan Tellem of Tellem Worldwide, hired to handle media inquiries for District Attorney Sneddon.
Jackson attorney Mark Geragos, reached by telephone, would not answer questions from The Associated Press.
Grand jury indictments are usually secret until a defendant is arraigned. A judge has issued a gag order that prohibits attorneys on both sides from discussing the case.
The closed-door grand jury proceedings determines whether there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial, and replaced a preliminary hearing, which would have been public.
Transcripts of the secret grand jury proceeding will be provided to Jackson's defense team within the next 10 days. The transcripts will then be made public 10 days after that unless Jackson's attorneys can convince a judge doing so would prejudice a future jury pool.
According to sources close to the defense, Jackson's lawyers may be taking a closer look at the racial profile of the grand jury.
The grand jury has spent the last three weeks hearing from witnesses, including a 14-year-old boy who claims the pop superstar sexually abused him.
On Wednesday, grand jurors were whisked from the proceedings to the downtown Santa Barbara courthouse in vans with darkened windows. There they met with Sneddon and presiding Superior Court Judge Clifford Anderson.
Meanwhile, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges were being considered against several associates of Michael Jackson for allegedly threatening the family of the boy who has accused Jackson of child molestation, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
An unidentified source close to the case told the Times the charges were under consideration.
Attorney Joseph Tacopina said there had been speculation that two of his clients, Vincent Amen and Frank Tyson, would either be indicted by the grand jury or charged separately with alleged intimidation of witnesses. He denied the allegations and said the two former Jackson employees would not appear before the grand jury.
The attorney said the accusations came from the boy's mother and were "patently false."
Tellem said the district attorney would have no comment because of a gag order.