In a recent interview with The Times of London, Streisand, who crossed paths with the late pop star during his heyday, said that Jackson’s accusers “were thrilled to be there” and that the alleged abuse didn’t “kill them.”
Streisand, 76, clarified her comments in a statement provided to PEOPLE on Saturday.
“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,” she said. “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,” Streisand continued. “It’s clear that the parents of the two young men were also victimized and seduced by fame and fantasy.”
“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,” Streisand added. “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.”
In the interview, Streisand revealed she “absolutely” believes the claims made by Wade Robson and James Safechuck in HBO’s two-part documentary Leaving Neverland.
“That was too painful,” Streisand said of the documentary, before telling the newspaper that Jackson once asked her to do a duet with him on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” but she declined.
The Grammy-award winning singer then went on to defend Jackson.
“He was very sweet, very childlike,” Streisand told The Times. “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 [the grown-up Robson and Safechuck], they were thrilled to be there.”
Streisand even went as far as saying that Jackson’s alleged abuse didn’t “kill them.”
“They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them,” Streisand said.
Despite Streisand’s defense of Jackson, she admitted she does feel bad for Robson, now 36, and Safechuck, now 41.
“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?”
Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed responded to Streisand’s interview on Twitter, writing, “‘It didn’t kill them’ @BarbraStreisand did you really say that?! #LeavingNeverland.”
In Leaving Neverland, Robson and Safechuck described how Jackson allegedly used his infamous California compound to transfix the boys when he invited each of them there, keep them separate from their parents, and even warn him of anyone approaching a room in which, they say, he was sexually assaulting them.
Neverland Ranch, the 2,700-acre property where the pop star lived for 15 years, is currently on the market. The realtor’s description of the property, which has been renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch, includes features like a fire department building, a swimming pool, basketball and tennis courts, game rooms, a zoo and multiple guesthouses. Jackson’s famous private amusement park — which featured a Ferris wheel, carousel, roller coaster and an arcade — has been removed.
In Leaving Neverland, Safechuck details how many of the kid-friendly features were allegedly used for sinister purposes.
“There was a castle in the theme park, and upstairs there was a bedroom. You could see if somebody was coming. It had just a small bed. Up there, we would have sex,” he says, recalling his alleged experience at age 10, in part one of the documentary.
He identifies numerous secret rooms and secluded places where Jackson would allegedly take him: “He had an Indian fort with teepees, so we would lay down sleeping bags, have snacks and then have sexual relations there . . . There’s a third-floor attic. It was kind of secluded. You could only get to it from these steep stairs. You could tell if somebody was coming. So we would go in there and have sex.”
Safechuck also claims Jackson molested him in a guest house far from the main residence that the singer used to hold memorabilia, in the pool and jacuzzi, in a hidden bedroom above the arcade and in a suite in Jackson’s private movie theater.
Robson also recalls being taken with the ranch. “We were all tripping out on this place. It was just out of a storybook, out of a fairy tale,” he says.
The sheer size of the property also facilitated the star keeping his alleged victims hidden away from their parents, according to Robson’s mother Joy Robson.
Safechuck explains that play and abuse blended together for him because of the presence of kid’s toys and games in these spaces. “There’s toys everywhere, things to do. So they just kind of mix together,” he says.
“This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson,” the statement read. “Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. Safechuck and Robson, the latter a self-proclaimed ‘master of deception’, filed lawsuits against Michael’s Estate, asking for millions of dollars. Both lawsuits were dismissed.”
Jackson was 50 years old when he was found dead on June 25, 2009, in his L.A. mansion.
Leaving Neverland is now available on HBO.