In a statement to ET on Saturday, Streisand clarified her comments and expressed sympathy for Robson and 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. The stories these two young men shared were painful to hear, and I feel nothing but sympathy for them,” she said.
“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,” she added.
She further apologized on her website with this statement, “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. 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 a new interview with The Times of London published on Friday, the singer was asked her thoughts on the controversial Jackson documentary, “Leaving Neverland” — in which Wade Robson and James Safechuck allege that the late singer sexually abused them as children — and if she believes the two men.
“Oh, absolutely. That was too painful,” said Streisand, who then began to describe Jackson as “very sweet, very childlike” during the few times they met. She recalled Jackson asking her to do a duet of “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” together, but said she turned him down.
However, it was her next comments about Jackson’s alleged sexual behaviour that have fans up in arms.
“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 [in the documentary], they were thrilled to be there,” she explained. “They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.
“It’s a combination of feelings. I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for him” she continued, after being asked if she was angry with Jackson. “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?”
As the quotes began to circulate across the web, Twitter users became infuriated with her responses.
“Shame on you @BarbraStreisand for disrespecting the victims of child rape. Low class, dismissive and a shocking trivialisation. To speak up for a child abuser… I expect it from the deranged MJ fans but not from you, who should know better. #LeavingNeverland #victimshamers,” wrote one user.
“This is horrible. I feel sick,” someone else tweeted.
Following its debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, “Leaving Neverland” was met with immediate backlash from Jackson’s family, who slammed the production in the press repeatedly. After it aired on HBO, the special received a slew of mixed reactions, from dedicated fans who question the reliability of the two alleged victims, to others who spoke out to express their support for Safechuck and Robson.
The Jackson estate also filed a $100-million lawsuit against HBO ahead of the film’s premiere, calling the documentary “unvetted propaganda to shamelessly exploit an innocent man no longer here to defend himself.”
For more on the “Leaving Neverland” documentary, watch below.
(This story was originally published on March 22 at 8:18 p.m. PT)