Barbra Streisand is taking heat after speaking out on the sexual abuse allegations made against Michael Jackson in HBO’s Leaving Neverland documentary.
The A Star Is Born actress, 76, addressed the two-part film, which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, while speaking to the Times’ Evening Standard for an interview published on Friday, March 22.
Though the eight-time Grammy winner said that she “absolutely” believed the movie’s subjects, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, she suggested that the young men had wanted to be in his presence.
“You can say ‘molested’, but those children, as you heard [the grown-up Robson and Safechuck] say, they were thrilled to be there,” she told the publication. “They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”
Streisand commented on the late pop star, who died in 2009 at the age of 50, as well: “His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has,” the Funny Girl star said.
The “Woman in Love” crooner admitted that she has a “combination of feelings” on the matter. “I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for him,” she said. “I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him? Why would Michael need these little children dressed like him and in the shoes and the dancing and the hats?”
Her statements sparked the ire of many, including Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed, who tweeted Friday, “’It didn’t kill them’ @BarbraStreisand did you really say that?!”
“As a lifelong fan, I am deeply disappointed about your remarks regarding Michael Jackson,” one Twitter user wrote. “I don’t understand how you could be so dismissive of the abuse that he inflicted and the damage that’s been done. It’s so unsympathetic to ALL victims of sexual abuse.”
Added another, “@BarbraStreisand what you said about Michael Jackson’s victims is seriously disgusting.”
Streisand later released a statement clarifying her comments. “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,” she told Us Weekly in the statement. “The stories these two young men shared were painful to hear, and I feel nothing but sympathy for them. 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.”
Jackson’s estate slammed the documentary in a statement to Us after its January release: “The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact,” the reps wrote. “These claims were the basis of lawsuits filed by these two admitted liars which were ultimately dismissed by a judge. The two accusers testified under oath that these events never occurred. They have provided no independent evidence and absolutely no proof in support of their accusations, which means the entire film hinges solely on the word of two perjurers.”
Us has reached out to Streisand’s rep for comment.
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