“There is an arrest warrant for Michael Jackson,” said senior Deputy Tim Gracey of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. Gracey said Jackson was in Las Vegas and authorities were negotiating with Jackson’s lawyer for his surrender.

Gracey said the warrant was for a violation of Section 288 of the California Penal Code, which prohibits lewd or lascivious acts with a child under age 14.

He said further details would be released at a late morning news conference in Santa Barbara.

Earlier Wednesday, a spokesman for Jackson told The Associated Press he knew of no such warrant. Stuart Backerman said he spoke with the district attorney’s office late Tuesday “and they weren’t confirming or denying that at the moment.”

Word of the warrant came a day after authorities raided Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.

As many as 70 law enforcement officials served a search warrant at the ranch and hunted for evidence through the night as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, Sgt. Chris Pappas said.

Jackson, who reportedly was in Las Vegas when the search warrant was served, denounced media coverage in a statement released to the AP by Backerman.

“I’ve seen lawyers who don’t represent me and spokespeople who do not know me speaking for me. These characters always seem to surface with dreadful allegations just as another project, an album, a video is being released,” the Jackson statement said, referring to Tuesday’s release of a greatest hits album, Number Ones.

Backerman refused to comment on any allegations and said neither he nor Jackson knew the details of the investigation.

The 45-year-old singing superstar faced a child molestation investigation in 1993 in a case that never resulted in criminal charges. Jackson reportedly paid a multimillion dollar settlement in that case but maintained his innocence.

The $12.3 million Neverland Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley has a mansion, its own zoo and amusement park, and has often been the site of children’s parties.

Steve Manning, a Jackson family spokesman, briefly talked to reporters outside a Las Vegas recording studio and said Jackson was “holding up” and had his family’s support.

In a television documentary broadcast on ABC earlier this year, Jackson said he had slept in a bed with many children. “When you say bed you’re thinking sexual,” the singer said during the interview. “It’s not sexual, we’re going to sleep. I tuck them in. … It’s very charming, it’s very sweet.”

Jackson caused an international uproar last year when he displayed his baby, Prince Michael II, to fans by dangling him briefly from a fourth-floor balcony in Germany. Jackson called the incident a “terrible mistake,” and Berlin authorities said the actions were not punishable.