Michael Jackson has agreed to be deposed Jan. 18 about allegations that he sexually molested a 13-year-old boy, lawyers on both sides of the case said Friday.
Jackson's attorneys have said he is eager to tell his side of the story under oath, but they also have warned that they may oppose efforts to take Jackson's deposition if criminal charges are filed against the entertainer or are still under consideration when the date for his deposition arrives.
In a hearing last month, Superior Court Judge David Rothman ordered Jackson's deposition scheduled before the end of January. But Rothman also noted that he might reconsider that order if Jackson is indicted on criminal charges.
Bertram Fields, one of Jackson's lawyers, said Friday that the entertainer might request a change in the deposition date if there are significant changes in the status of the criminal investigation before the end of January.
"We do want him to testify in the civil case for sure," Fields said. "If things change in the criminal case, we would reconsider the whole question of the civil case. We want the criminal case to go first."
Even if Jackson's deposition goes ahead as scheduled, it does not necessarily mean that the singer would need to return to the United States by that time because depositions sometimes are taken in foreign countries. But the boy's lawyer, Larry R. Feldman, said he expected Jackson to give his deposition in the United States.
"I expect Mr. Jackson to comply with lawful court orders," Feldman said. "I expect to do this deposition here."
Jackson, who abruptly aborted his world tour last month and has not been heard from since, is said to be recovering from an addiction to painkillers. A Connecticut newspaper reported this week that Jackson had returned to the United States to undergo treatment, but sources close to the case said that report was incorrect. Jackson is recovering in Europe, the singer's lawyers said.
Depositions are under way in the boy's lawsuit. Jackson's chauffeur, Gary Hearne, was deposed this week, and a maid was questioned Friday. Lawyers declined to comment on what the maid said during her deposition.