Barbra Streisand has apologised for suggesting that Michael Jackson’s alleged abuse victims were “thrilled to be there”, after her remarks sparked a fierce backlash.
The Woman in Love singer has faced intense criticism from abuse survivors and victims’ advocates after weighing in on the heated debate sparked by the release of the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland.
The documentary centres around the testimony of two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who claim that Jackson repeatedly molested them as children and “detail how the alleged abuse had a profound impact on them as adults”, The Independent reports. The singer’s estate has vehemently denied their accounts.
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Streisand addressed the allegations in an interview with The Times, published on Friday, in which the 76-year-old said that she “absolutely” believed the testimony of the alleged victims, but went on to question the impact of the abuse.
“His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has,” she said of Jackson, whom she described as “very sweet, very childlike”.
“You can say ‘molested’, but those children, as you heard say, they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them,” she added.
The remarks “inspired a torrent of social-media outrage”, says Vanity Fair, with Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed among those expressing shock and anger:
Shortly after the interview was published, an addendum appeared at the foot of the piece with a statement from Streisand, saying: “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.”
In a statement on her website addressing the controversy, she added that she felt “deep remorse” for her initial choice of words and was “profoundly sorry for any pain or misunderstanding” caused.
“The words as printed do not reflect my true feelings,” she wrote. “I didn’t mean to dismiss the trauma these boys experienced in any way.
“Like all survivors of sexual assault, they will have to carry this for the rest of their lives. I feel deep remorse and I hope that James and Wade know that I truly respect and admire them for speaking their truth.”
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