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Jackson family feud leads to court-ordered investigation

A Los Angeles judge ordered an investigation Friday into the care ofMichael Jackson’schildren, capping a tumultuous week of family feuding in which some relatives of the late pop star accused others of kidnapping their elderly matriarch.

Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff, acting on his own initiative, instructed a probate court investigator to prepare a report “addressing the status of the minor children” and their grandmother, Katherine Jackson. The judge stripped the 82-year-old of guardianship Wednesday after hearing allegations that some of her children were holding her against her will in Arizona.

Beckloff expressed concern during the proceeding, asking lawyers if law enforcement had been notified. The Sheriff’s Department closed a missing persons investigation days earlier after speaking to Katherine Jackson at a Tucson spa.

In his one-page order, Beckloff ordered investigator Cary Ornelas “to interview the children at their school on an unannounced basis” and deliver a written report directly to him.

“The report shall be provided to the court only and shall not be disseminated to any parties,” he wrote.

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The instruction seemed an acknowledgment of the infighting among members of the famous family. Michael Jackson’s sisters Rebbie and Janet and brothers Jermaine and Randy are battling with the executors of his estate over who should control his money and legacy. They have claimed mismanagement of the estate was affecting Katherine Jackson’s health, and Randy Jackson insisted she went to the spa on doctor’s orders to relax.

But the singer’s older children — Prince, 15, and Paris, 14 — have suggested on Twitter that she was purposefully kept from them. And in court papers, their cousin and temporary guardian, Tito Joe “T.J.” Jackson, said one of his aunts “arranged for a person to pretend that he was a doctor” and induce her to go to Arizona.

Katherine Jackson returned to the Calabasas residence she shares with the children Thursday. Her attorney said that she would ask to be reinstated as their co-guardian, alongside her grandson T.J.

The son of the Jackson Five’s Tito, 34-year-old T.J. has helped his grandmother care for the teenagers and their brother, Blanket, 10, since their father’s 2009 death. In a statement Friday, a lawyer for Katherine Jackson said that after meeting with him and the children, she concluded it was in the family’s best interests for him to stay on as a guardian.

The joint arrangement “will essentially now legally reflect how Mrs. Jackson and T.J. have often shared responsibilities of raising the children since Michael Jackson’s tragic passing,” lawyer Perry R. Sanders Jr. wrote.

Under the arrangement, T.J. Jackson would oversee the children’s schooling as well as the household staff and security, while Katherine Jackson would keep control of the children’s financial allowance from the singer’s estate, according to the statement.

“She is eager to simply enjoy her great relationship with these children, while deeding over some of the stressors that go hand in hand with being a guardian,” Sanders wrote.

harriet.ryan@latimes.com


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