Debbie Rowe Lashes Out at Paparazzi, Backs Out of Memorial

FamilyDeathCrime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemMichael JacksonKatherine JacksonMichael Joseph Jackson Jr.

LANCASTER -- An attorney for Debbie Rowe says she will not attend the pop superstar's memorial service.

Rowe, the mother of Jackson's two oldest children, had originally planned to attend Tuesday's memorial service at Staples Center.

But Rowe attorney Marta Almli said Monday her attendance would be "an unnecessary distraction" and that Rowe will "celebrate Michael's memory privately."

The announcement follows a weekend clash between Rowe and the paparazzi.

Rowe was caught on video lashing out at a photographer who questioned her about the custody of her two children with the late pop star.

"Don't touch me," she snipped as a swarm of paparazzi followed her as she got into a car outside a Lancaster restaurant Sunday. She yelled at a photographer whom she accused of touching her. Then, when someone asked whether she was ready to seek custody of the kids, she responded, "are you ready to get your butt kicked?"

Rowe ignored another question about whether she was seeking money to give up her claim on the children.

Rowe is the mother of Jackson's two oldest children, 12-year-old Michael Joseph Jr., known as Prince Michael and 11-year-old daughter Paris Michael Katherine.

Michael Jackson's will gives guardianship of all three children to Katherine Jackson, 79, and leaves all his assets in the Michael Jackson Family Trust Fund.

The contents of that trust are not specified, but it reportedly provides for Michael's children and mother, and distributes money to several charities. Jackson's father Joseph isn't mentioned in the will.

Additionally, the will says that if Katherine died before him or couldn't serve as guardian, he nominated Diana Ross.

Katherine Jackson is currently taking care of Michael's three kids: Michael Jospeph Jackson Jr., 12, known as Prince Michael, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, 11, and Michael Joseph Jackson II, 7, known as Blanket.

The Jackson family had said in the court documents it filed last Monday that it believed the pop star died without a valid will, but that it had heard rumors a will existed.

In response, Judge Mitchell Beckloff gave Katherine Jackson temporary guardianship of Michael's three children, as well as some control of Michael's personal assets. The judge did not immediately rule on Katherine Jackson's requests to take control of the children's estate and Michael's estate.

As for custody, the will is taken into consideration, but ultimately the decision on who gets custody is in the hands of the judge.

A custody hearing is set for July 13.

L. Londell McMillan, the family's attorney, said in a statement that the Jacksons are pleased with the results of their filings last Monday.

"Mrs. Jackson deserves custody, and the family should have the administration of the brilliance of Mr. Michael Jackson. Mrs. Jackson is a wonderful, loving and strong woman with a special family many of us have admired for years. The personal and legal priorities are focused on first protecting the best interests of Mr. Michael Jackson's children, his family, his memorial services and then preserving his creative and business legacy with the dignity and honor it deserves."

The Jackson family said the children are living at the Jackson family compound in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley.

"They have a long established relationship with paternal grandmother and are comfortable in her care," the family said in court documents.

Family patriarch Joe Jackson, 79, said at a news conference that the children were enjoying playing with other kids - something they do not normally do.

The documents filed by the family stated that Debbie Rowe, who was briefly married to Michael Jackson, is the mother of the two older children.

The document simply listed "none" for the mother of the youngest child, Prince Michael II.

During the Rowe and Jackson's divorce, Rowe attempted to relinquish her parental rights altogether. In 2001, she wrote a petition to sever her parental rights, saying she thought Jackson was doing a good parenting job.

Rowe's attorney said Thursday that Rowe would decide within the next several days how to respond to Katherine Jackson's petition for temporary custody.

Rumors have swirled that Michael Jackson is not the biological father of any of the three children, and that Debbie Rowe is not the biological mother of Prince Michael and Paris Jackson. There were also reports that Michael never legally adopted any of the children.

None of the rumors have been confirmed.

Mark Lester, a former British child star who is godfather to Jackson's children, has said he believes the children belong with Jackson's mother.

"She is a very loving, kind and gracious woman, and she had a very close relationship with Michael and a very good rapport with her grandchildren," Lester said. "I know the kids are fine. They are deeply saddened by what's happened, but they're coping."

The court will also take into account whom the children have a relationship bond with, which could work against Rowe.

During her 2006 custody struggle with Jackson, Rowe indicated she had not seen the children since 2005, shortly after Jackson was acquitted of child molestation charges and moved overseas with his kids.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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