NEW YORK • Funny Girl actress Barbra Streisand's comments about Michael Jackson are not a laughing matter, many outraged netizens complained.
Now, she has apologised for saying that two men, who accused the singer of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary Leaving Neverland, were "thrilled" to be with him.
In an interview with The Times Of London published last Friday, she also showed sympathy for Jackson, saying: "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, they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them."
She added that she believed the accounts of Mr Wade Robson and Mr James Safechuck, who claimed in the documentary that Jackson had abused them when they were kids.
She said she had sympathy for Jackson and that he was "very sweet, very child-like" when she met him. She added that while she felt bad for the children, she also felt bad for the singer and blamed the children's parents.
After her comments drew widespread criticism, she issued a statement to The New York Times last Saturday, clarifying she did not side with Jackson, but reiterated her feelings about the children's parents. "The single most important role of being a parent is to protect their children," she noted. "It's clear that the parents of the two young men were also victimised and seduced by fame and fantasy."
Streisand issued another statement about three hours later in which she apologised. Referring to The Times Of London interview, she said her words "as printed do not reflect my true feelings".
"I didn't mean to dismiss the trauma these boys experienced in any way."
But at least one celebrity is standing by Jackson. Last Saturday, Diana Ross, who knew him since he was a child and when they were both on the Motown record label, tweeted her support of the singer.