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Barbra Streisand Clarifies Controversial Comments About Michael Jackson

In response to extreme backlash, Barbra Streisand has clarified remarks about Michael Jackson’s alleged victims that she made to The Times in the U.K. this week. While her original comments were perceived by many as bordering on victim-blaming (or in poor taste, at the very least), Streisand just released a statement insisting her sympathy lies with Wade Robson and James Safechuck. The two men were thrust into the spotlight upon the release of HBO’s Leaving Wonderland documentary, in which they allege that Jackson sexually abused them when they were children. The men’s testimonies — which claim that Jackson’s abuse occurred hundreds of times when they were between the ages of seven to 10 — have been met largely with belief, although the Jackson family insists the allegations are untrue.

“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’s statement reads, per Variety. “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 these two young men were also victimized and seduced by fame and fantasy.”

Streisand drew swift and sharp criticism on Friday when her interview with The Times was published. In it, the iconic performer referred to Jackson as “very sweet, very childlike.” And although she stated that she did believe Robson and Safechuck were telling the truth (“That was too painful,” she said of the documentary), her perspective on the alleged abuse struck many as unsettling. “[Jackson’s] sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever he has or whatever DNA he has,” Streisand said, continuing, “You can say ‘molested,’ but those children, as you heard say [the adult Robson and Safechuck], they were thrilled to be there.” Streisand even went so far as to say, “They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”

The original interview revealed that Streisand was conflicted over the entire situation. “It’s a combination of feelings. I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for [Jackson]. I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him,” she said. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for the internet-at-large to find major fault with Streisand’s rhetoric.

Throughout Leaving Neverland, Robson and Safechuck chronicle in excruciating detail how they (along with their families) were groomed for years of sexual abuse by Jackson. In addition to detailing how the seemingly kid-friendly Neverland Ranch was designed for nefarious purposes, the men elaborate on how the alleged abuse has impacted their entire lives. The documentary is currently available for viewing on HBO.

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