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Barbra Streisand is a living legend. She is one of only two people ever to receive Peabody, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards. An upcoming set of UK concerts would suggest she doesn’t intend to slow down any time soon, but a recent profile of her suggests she might be a bit behind the times.
Speaking to the UK publication The Times ahead of her UK concerts, Streisand dismissed the claims of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who have accused the late Michael Jackson of sexual assault. In the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, which investigates the lengthy, highly-public history of sexual assault allegations against Jackson, these men excruciatingly recount their alleged experiences with the pop star. Although their testimonies are harrowing, Streisand said to The Times that these men enjoyed spending time with Jackson and are doing just fine now.
After dismissing the allegations against Jackson as products of his upbringing and genetics, Streisand said that Robson and Safechuck were always “thrilled to be” in his presence. Their time with him, she said, “didn’t kill them,” and since they have families of their own now, they must be doing just fine.
Although Streisand told The Times that she “absolutely” believed the allegations that Robson and Safechuck have made, she didn’t place any blame on Jackson. Instead, she faulted the parents of Robson and Safechuck (who were children at the time of the allegations). Dan Reed, who produced and directed Leaving Neverland, was among the first voices to respond unkindly to Streisand’s remarks — and he’s been far from the last.
In response to the backlash to her remarks, Streisand originally released a statement to Entertainment Weekly clarifying the comments she made to The Times. In this statement, Streisand made it clear that she believes it is never acceptable for anyone to take advantage of children. She further stated that she felt deeply pained while hearing the stories that Robson and Safechuck told in Leaving Neverland, but she still placed the blame on the accusers’ parents.
Following her Entertainment Weekly statement, Streisand published a firmer, more formal apology for her Times comments. In this apology, which Streisand posted directly on her website, she immediately and unsparingly expressed regret over her comments. She also explicitly stated her support for Robson and Safechuck and commended their bravery in coming forward. When she shared this newest apology to her Instagram, responses varied from commending the apology to dismissing it as meaningless and arriving too late. Some commenters even went a step further than Streisand did in her original Times remarks and outright denied the stories that Robson and Safechuck have told.
Streisand is not the only famous artist who has recently dismissed the claims against Jackson. Iconic singer Diana Ross took to Twitter around the same time Streisand published her second apology to more explicitly express doubts about the allegations against Jackson. Ross praised Jackson as a “magnificent incredible force” and implied that such a beloved figure couldn’t have possibly committed the crimes of which he is accused. The remarks by both Ross and Streisand have been cited as examples of why sexual assault victims don’t often come forward.