Jackson estate concerned about bullying of Michael's kids
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The executors of Michael Jackson's estate on Tuesday attempted to stanch reports they plan to seek guardianship of the late singer's children, but did express concern for protecting the three kids from "undue influences, bullying and greed."
John Branca and John McClain said in a statement on Tuesday that they were mindful of the well-being of 82-year-old Katherine Jackson, mother of the late singer and legal guardian to Jackson's children, but had no method of direct influence in matters concerning the children.
Katherine Jackson was awarded guardianship of the late singer's three children, Prince Michael, 15, Paris, 14 and Blanket, 10, following Jackson's death aged 50 from an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol in 2009.
The Jackson matriarch was reported missing last week to authorities, but older Jackson family members said on Sunday she was resting in Arizona with family. A missing persons report filed at Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was closed after officials checked into the matter.
"We are acutely concerned about the welfare of Mrs. Jackson, and most particularly with Michael's minor children. We are concerned that we do what we can to protect them from undue influences, bullying, greed, and other unfortunate circumstances," Branca and McCain said.
"While we do not have standing to directly intervene, we have monitored the situation and will continue to do so. We believe measures are being put in place that will help protect them from what they are having to deal with," the administrators said in a statement.
Michael's daughter Paris tweeted on Tuesday that she hadn't spoken to her grandmother in nine days, and celebrity website TMZ.com reported that Branca and McClain would head to court to support a move for temporary guardianship of Jackson's children on behalf of Tito Jackson Jr., 34, the son of Tito Jackson and cousin to Jackson's children.
ABC television morning chat program "Good Morning America" posted a video taken from what it claimed was a security camera of what appeared to be a confrontation among family members in the driveway of the Jackson's Los Angeles-area home.
A spokesman for the estate said the administrators had no comment beyond the statement that was released.
Last week, Paris became embroiled in a war of words with her uncle, Randy, on Twitter after he and his siblings said Katherine had suffered a "mini-stroke" in an undated letter to Branca and McClain, which was leaked online to media outlets.
The letter, signed by Jackson siblings Tito, Randy, Jermaine, Janet and Rebbie, also claimed that the Jackson estate executors had presented a fraudulent will of the late singer to the family and their actions were affecting Katherine's health.
Paris took to Twitter to say her grandmother was fine and did not have a stroke, and accused Randy of lying. She later apologized to her uncle. All tweets relating to the incident have since been deleted.
Last week, Branca and McClain issued a separate statement saying "any doubts about the validity of Michael's will and his selection of Executors were thoroughly and completely debunked two years ago when a challenge was rejected by the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the California Court of Appeals and, finally, the California Supreme Court."
In his will, Jackson had stipulated that money earned by his estate, which includes ownership in rights to numerous songs, would benefit his mother and his three children.
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Andrew Hay)
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