The nanny who raised Michael Jackson's three children broke her silence today to deny a report that she'd said she routinely pumped the pop star's stomach after he had taken large amounts of dangerous drugs.
But Grace Rwaramba, who worked for Jackson for 17 years, did not comment on what her role might be in the children's lives going forward. The 42-year-old nanny was a close member of his inner circle and in many ways the only mother figure his children knew.
Her relationship with Jackson, and questions about whether she will mount a battle for custody of his children, have spurred interest and rumors about the Rwandan national.
The Times of London recently posted what it said was an interview with Rwaramba on its Web site, in which she was quoted as saying that she had regularly pumped Jackson's stomach after he had taken toxic combinations of dangerous drugs. Pumping a person's stomach is a medical procedure usually conducted in hospitals.
The nanny denied both pumping his stomach and ever talking to the Times.
"I am shocked, hurt and deeply saddened by recent statements the press has attributed to me, in particular, the outrageous and patently false claim that I 'routinely pumped his stomach after he had ingested a dangerous combination of drugs,'" Rwaramba said in a statement.
"I don't even know how to pump a stomach!! In addition, I have never spoken to the Times Online, the original source of the story that has now been picked up worldwide. The statements attributed to me confirm the worst in human tendencies to sensationalize tragedy and smear reputations for profit," she added.
Law enforcement sources confirmed to ABC News that Jackson was addicted to the painkillers Oxycontin and Demerol.
Jackson and Rwaramba were so close that the couple was rumored to be considering marriage in 2006.
She traveled with Jackson and the children to Bahrain and Ireland following Jackson's 2005 child molestation acquittal. In 2008 she testified in Jackson's defense during a breach-of-contract trial brought against the singer by a Bahranian sheik.
She has also been rumored to have introduced the pop singer to the black-Muslim sect, the Nation of Islam.
In the immediate aftermath of Jackson's death, some sources close to the family said they believed Rwaramba might launch a push to gain custody of the children, or that Jackson had named her as the children's guardian.
Reports of a known will, however, indicate that Jackson wanted his mother Katherine Jackson, 79, to have custody of the children.
Jackson's three children Michael Joseph Jr., 12; Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson, 11; and Prince Michael Jackson, II, 7, known as Blanket, have been staying with their grandmother Katherine at the family compound in Encino, Calif., since Jackson's death Thursday.
On Monday, a California judge granted Katherine Jackson temporary guardianship of her grandchildren.
Questions remain whether Debbie Rowe, Jackson's ex-wife and the mother of the first two children will seek custody of the older children.
At a press conference in Los Angeles Monday, Joe Jackson talked about whether the kids would go with Rwaramba or Rowe.
"This is where they belong ... we love those kids ... we're going to take care of them," Jackson said.
Asked about Rowe, Jackson responded, "Debbie Rowe has nothing to do with what we're doing."
Joe Jackson called Rwaramba, who was fired by Michael Jackson in December, "a good friend of the family and the kids." He said the family is looking into what role she can have in the children's lives.
In her statement, Rwaramba called Jackson "an exceptional human being" who "loved his family dearly, and above all, his beautiful children.
"In addition to being my employer over the past 17 years and entrusting the care of his beloved children to me, he was my dear friend," she said. "While our friendship had challenges, as do all friendships, he was loyal to the end. I cherish and honor his memory."