UPDATE: Barbra Streisand offered a more formal apology for her remarks on the two Michael Jackson accusers in Leaving Neverland, following an earlier statement released by the singer.
“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,” she says in the statement, published to her official website. “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.”
EARLIER: After comments about the Michael Jackson accusers of HBO’s Leaving Neverland documentary sparked a fierce backlash, Barbra Streisand released a statement to clarify her position and express “nothing but sympathy” for Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
“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,” Streisand said in a statement to EW. “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 victimized and seduced by fame and fantasy.”
Speaking with The Times in the U.K., the interview that sparked the intense response, Streisand, 76, said she “absolutely” believed Robson, now 36, and Safechuck, now 41.
In the unsettling Leaving Neverland, the two men detailed their experience with Jackson and described how the singer allegedly abused them sexually for several years as children. The Michael Jackson Estate denounced the claims laid out in the documentary and is currently suing HBO over the film for breach of a previous contract.
Streisand, who met the King of Pop years earlier, described him as “very sweet, very childlike. His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has.”
She was also quoted in the interview as saying, “You can say ‘molested,’ but those children, as you heard say [Robson and Safechuck as adults], they were thrilled to be there.”
“They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them,” Streisand added.
The singer clarified to The Times that she does feel bad for the men before turning the focus on their parents: “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?”
“‘It didn’t kill them’ @BarbraStreisand did you really say that?!” Dan Reed, the director on Leaving Neverland, tweeted in response to the interview.
“’His sexual needs were his sexual needs’ – is pedophilia tolerated in parts of the entertainment industry?” he added in another tweet.
Other responses online were similarly shocked and dismayed. Zach Braff was one public figure who joked, “[Barbra] Streisand just ‘hold my beer’d’ the whole Mueller Report.”