Facing mounting criticism over her comments about two men who say they were molested as children by Michael Jackson, legendary singer and actress Barbra Streisand rushed Saturday to explain that she felt “nothing but sympathy” for Jackson’s accusers and tweeted that she was “profoundly sorry for any pain or misunderstanding I caused.”
Streisand said in a statement provided to The Washington Post on Saturday afternoon that “to be crystal clear, there is no situation or circumstance where it is OK for the innocence of children to be taken advantage of by anyone.”
“The stories these two young men shared were painful to hear, and I feel nothing but sympathy for them,” the statement said. “The single most important role of being a parent is to protect their children. It’s clear that the parents of the two young men were also victimized and seduced by fame and fantasy.”
In a wide-ranging interview with the Times of London published online Friday, Streisand was asked about “Leaving Neverland,” the explosive HBO documentary in which choreographer Wade Robson, 36, and former child actor James Safechuck, 41, allege the singer gave them alcohol, showed them pornography and even purchased a wedding ring for Safechuck when they were young boys. The documentary, which Jackson’s estate has condemned, renewed public outrage toward the pop singer, who was acquitted in 2005 of all charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of a 13-year-old boy.
Her assessment of the long-term impact on both men, and Jackson’s behavior, has drawn considerable ire from the public. “His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has,” she said of Jackson.
“You can say ‘molested,’ but those children, as you heard say, they were thrilled to be there,” she said of Robson and Safechuck. “They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”
On Saturday, Streisand also posted a separate statement on Twitter, in which she said she felt “deep remorse” for the pain she may have caused Robson and Safechuck and sought to clarify her comments.
In the original interview, Streisand told the Times she “absolutely” believed Robson and Safechuck.
“I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for him. I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him,” she says of her complicated feelings on the situation. “Why would Michael need these little children dressed like him and in the shoes and the dancing and the hats?”
The Times interviewer writes that he brought up Jackson because both he and Streisand achieved a similar level of fame. However, Streisand says she met Jackson a couple of times and turned down an opportunity to record a duet with him.
After the interview was published, Streisand’s name was trending on Twitter as users expressed surprise and outrage, including the director of “Leaving Neverland,” Dan Reed.
Jackson, who died in 2009, has maintained an ardent base of fans and supporters; they took to social media to defend the late pop star against these latest accusations after the two-part film aired.
This isn’t the first time that the world has had to reckon with allegations against Jackson, who had faced similar allegations since the 1990s.
Lawyers for Jackson’s estate have called the documentary “a one-sided marathon of unvetted propaganda to shamelessly exploit an innocent man no longer here to defend himself.”