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Barbra Streisand backtracks on Michael Jackson remarks: ‘I am profoundly sorry’

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Barbra Streisand presents an award during the 91st Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 24.
(VALERIE MACON / AFP/ Getty Images)

Barbra Streisand on Saturday tried to clarify recent her remarks regarding two men who have accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them when they were boys, after Streisand’s interview with the British newspaper the Times ahead of her London concert became a flashpoint for controversy.

The recent documentary “Leaving Neverland” includes allegations from Wade Robson and James Safechuck of sexual relationships with Jackson when each was underage. The documentary has caused longtime fans to reassess their relationship to Jackson’s legacy and has been greeted by strong denials from the late singer’s estate.

In her interview with the Times of London, Streisand said she “absolutely” believed Robson and Safechuck but went on to say more about Jackson and his accusers.

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

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Streisand also said: “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?”

PARK CITY, UTAH -- JANUARY 24, 2019-- Subject Wade Robson, director Dan Reed, and subject James Safe
Wade Robson, left, "Leaving Neverland" director Dan Reed and James Safechuck at the Sundance Film Festival this year.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Streisand’s remarks were met with a widespread furor online as they spread across social media Friday.

In a statement to the Associated Press on Saturday, Streisand attempted to clarify her remarks by 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.

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“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.”

Among those who responded to Streisand’s initial remarks was Dan Reed, director of “Leaving Neverland.” “Did you really say that?” he asked in one post on Twitter regarding Streisand’s assertion that the alleged abuse of Robson and Safechuck “didn’t kill them.”

Streisand released a second statement Saturday, posting online: “I am profoundly sorry for any pain or misunderstanding I caused by not choosing my words more carefully about Michael Jackson and his victims, because the words as printed do not reflect my true feelings. 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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