Streisand hits back after online criticism of Michael Jackson comments

FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2019 file photo, Barbra Streisand introduces
FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2019 file photo, Barbra Streisand introduces "BlacKkKlansman" at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Streisand is coming under intense criticism online for telling a British newspaper that two men who say they were molested as children by Michael Jackson were “thrilled to be there” and that the alleged abuse “didn’t kill them.” In a wide-ranging interview with the Times of London, Streisand was quoted as saying she “absolutely” believed the accusers. Wade Robson and James Safechuck make their allegations in the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland.”(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Barbra Streisand has said it is never acceptable for the innocence of children to be taken advantage of after being criticised for saying two men who claim abuse by Michael Jackson were “thrilled to be there”.

The Oscar-winning actress and singer, 76, made the comments in an interview with the Times, published on Friday, and became the subject of criticism online overnight.

On Saturday, Streisand said through her representative: “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.

Michael Jackson
The documentary features allegations against Michael Jackson (Yui Mok/PA)

“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 victimised and seduced by fame and fantasy.”

In the Times’ interview, Streisand said she believes James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who appeared in the documentary Leaving Neverland.

However, she questioned why their parents allowed them to sleep at the singer’s home.

She said: “His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has.

“You can say ‘molested’, but those children, as you heard say (the grown-up Robson and Safechuck), they were thrilled to be there.

“They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”

Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand (Jane Mingay/PA)

Asked if she was angry with Jackson, she said: “It’s a combination of feelings. 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. Why would Michael need these little children dressed like him and in the shoes and the dancing and the hats?”

The documentary’s director Dan Reed suggested Streisand’s comments showed child abuse was “tolerated” by the film and television industry.

Posting on Twitter, Reed asked: “Is pedophilia tolerated in parts of the entertainment industry?”

The film was met by a furious reaction by the Jackson estate, which denied the allegations and lambasted the documentary as “an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in” on the superstar.

Both Stephanie Safechuck and Joy Robson appeared in Leaving Neverland to recount their experiences with Jackson.

Stephanie said she “failed to protect” her son while Joy said she regretted her decision to leave her child with Jackson at his Neverland ranch.

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