Barbra Streisand apologises for saying Michael Jackson abuse victims were 'thrilled' to be with him

Julie Allen
Barbra Streisand has come in for criticism after implying the two men who were abused as children by Jackson were unaffected by the experience - Getty Images

Barbra Streisand has said she is "profoundly sorry" for saying that two men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them were "thrilled" to be with him and that their experience "didn't kill them".

Her apology came as Diana Ross also waded into the controversy, calling the singer a "magnificent force".

The two iconic women had rushed to the late pop star's defence following the release of the Netflix documentary Leaving Neverland, which detailed claims from Wade Robson and James Safechuck that they were abused by him as young boys.

Miss Streisand, the 76-year-old actress and singer who starred in multiple hit films including Funny Girl and the original  A Star is Born, drew an intense backlash over remarks made to the The Times.

"His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has," she told the newspaper. “You can say ‘molested,' but those children, as you heard say, they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”

Barbra Streisand and Michael Jackson attend a ceremony together in 1986 Credit: Mark Avery/AP

Shortly after the interview was published on Friday, the hashtag #CancelBarbraStreisand began trending on Twitter. Social media users described her comments as tone-deaf and tantamount to telling sexual assault survivors to get over it.

Late on Saturday, the two times Oscar winner issued a full apology.

“I am profoundly sorry for any pain or misunderstanding I caused by not choosing my words more carefully about Michael Jackson and his victims,"she said.

“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.”

Ross has not commented further since she declared her trust in her close friend, who died from a drug overdose aged fifty in 2009, in a tweet on Saturday.

Referencing one of her greatest hits, she wrote: "This is what's on my heart this morning. I believe and trust that Michael Jackson was and is a magnificent incredible force to me and to many others. STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE."