Responding to a "Dateline NBC" report that claimed he paid $2 million to silence a would-be accuser in 1990, Michael Jackson admitted Friday that "years ago, I settled with certain individuals because I was concerned about my family and the media scrutiny that would have ensued if I fought the matter in court."
In the report, which aired Friday night, a retired Santa Barbara County sheriff explained how his office uncovered a 1990 payoff to the 12-year-old son of a Neverland Ranch employee while investigating a 1993 molestation case in which the singer paid between $15 and $20 million in an out-of-court settlement (see "Michael Jackson Accused Of Paying Hush Money To Boy In 1990").
Jackson, who currently faces child molestation charges stemming from several alleged incidents in early 2003 (see "Michael Jackson Hit With 10 Felony Charges At Arraignment"), called the press' reporting on this latest twist "untruths and sensationalism."
"These people wanted to exploit my concern for children by threatening to destroy what I believe in and what I do," he explained in a statement on his official news site. "I have been a vulnerable target for those who want money.
"I have spent my entire life helping millions of children across the world," the 46-year-old singer added. "I would never harm a child. It is unfortunate that some individuals have seen fit to come forward and make a complaint that is completely false. Quite frankly, I question the timing and motive of this report."
Jackson's trial is scheduled to begin January 31.
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see "Michael Jackson Accused."