Jermaine Jackson has taken to Twitter to extend an olive branch to his feuding family, releasing a lengthy statement in which he calls for peace and expresses regret at the dispute over the late Michael Jackson’s kids.
In the past few weeks, disagreements regarding late pop icon Michael Jackson’s will and custody of his three children have escalated, putting the family squarely in the media spotlight.
When family matriarch Katherine Jackson, 82, went on vacation and failed to remain in touch with Michael’s three children — for whom she’d held legal guardianship – her silence prompted concerns that she had been kidnapped.
When she resurfaced several days later, she refuted those allegations and claimed she had voluntarily cut off communication because she was taking a break. During her absence, her grandson, T.J. Jackson, was granted temporary guardianship of the children, Prince, Paris and Blanket.
T.J. and Katherine Jackson are today expected to file a petition to act as the co-guardians of Michael’s children.
Michael Jackson’s entire fortune, estimated at $1 billion, was left to his mother and his children.
In a recent letter to the executors of Michael Jackson’s estate, four of the Jackson siblings – Randy, Jermaine, Janet and Rebbie Jackson – called the will of the late pop star “fake, flawed and fraudulent.” They claim its signature is false: That though the document gives Michael’s location on the day he signed as Los Angeles, they know him to have been in New York. They accuse the two executors, John Branca and John McClain, of everything from coercing family matriarch Katherine Jackson, to mishandling business deals, to getting too high of a cut for themselves from those same deals.
On Wednesday, Jermaine Jackson withdrew his signature from the letter and now seems to want to mute the public nature of the family’s fighting.
“Mistakes have been made and irrational things have been said on both sides in a highly-charged emotional environment,” he wrote Wednesday in a statement on Twitter. “It is time for us all to draw a line in the sand and move towards peace, co-operation, love and healing. I truly hope that we can find it in our hearts to do so. Because above and beyond anything else, what matters … is family.”
In response to the siblings’ letter, the executors of the estate, Branca and McClain, issued a statement denying the accusations.
“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,” they wrote in the statement.
“We are saddened that false and defamatory accusations grounded in stale Internet conspiracy theories are now being made by certain members of Michael’s family whom he chose to leave out of his will. We are especially disheartened that they come at a time when remarkable progress has been made to secure the financial future of his children by turning around the Estate’s finances as well as during a time when so many of Michael’s fans, old and new, are enjoying his artistry through exciting new projects,” they wrote.
Jermaine says his family is still raw over Michael’s death.
“The ever-present grief has haunted me with questions about whether we stepped off him too much or whether we did enough to help when a corporate world surrounded him,” he tweeted. “The way to address such matters is through the proper channels and via a private dialogue, not public conflict.”
“Yesterday I had a phone call with my son, Jaafar, that broke my heart,” he continued. “He asked: ‘Is it true that we cannot visit grandmother’s house as a family anymore? Enough has become enough.”
Some family members were barred from the family home in Calabasas after a reported public argument there last week.
ABC News had previously cited a TMZ report that Janet Jackson had slapped Paris, but on Wednesday TMZ issued a retraction.
A statement from TMZ said: “Janet Jackson did not slap or verbally abuse Paris Jackson during a confrontation at the Jackson family home in Calabasas last week. Although we believed the story to be true when we published it, we have now determined it was not correct . Janet did not slap or otherwise touch Paris, nor did she verbally abuse her.”
An incident took place July 23, when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to a reported “family disturbance” at the Jackson family home.
There were reports that Randy, Jermaine Jackson and Janet showed up, broke through a security gate and apparently tried to take Michael’s children. At the time, Sandra Ribera, a lawyer for Katherine Jackson, described the scene as “chaos,” and also claimed that Janet grabbed Paris’ cell phone.
Jermaine addressed that incident, too, on Twitter, saying he and his siblings went to the home to make arrangements for the children to see their grandmother.
“We were denied that access by security — and it was clear that mutual suspicions had allowed events to spiral out of control. I regret that events were ever allowed to reach such a stage. I regret any distress caused to Prince, Paris and Blanket. That was never, ever the intention of myself, Janet, Rebbie or Randy. Moving forward, the most effective way to best serve Mother’s welfare, and that of Michael’s children, is to start a collective dialogue, in private,” he wrote.
ABC News’ Sheila Marikar, Alan Farnham and Luchina Fisher contributed to this report.