Former Child Star Latest to Lay Claim to Michael Jackson's Children

Mark Lester told British tabloids that he likely fathered Paris Jackson, 11.

August 10, 2009, 7:47 AM

Aug. 10, 2009— -- Call it another day, another Michael Jackson mystery.

Less than a week after Jackson's 79-year-old mother Katherine Jackson was awarded custody of his three children a former British child star has come forward saying he believes he's the father of Jackon's 11-year-old daughter, Paris.

"I believe that Paris could be my daughter, and I would be willing to take a paternity test," Mark Lester, star of the 1967 film "Oliver," told British tabloid News of the World.

Lester, 51, said that he donated sperm for Debbie Rowe, mother of Jackson's two oldest children, Paris and Prince Michael I, 12. He contends that Paris bears an uncanny resemblance to his own daughters, particularly his 15-year-old.

"Looking at pictures of Harriet and Paris, there's a very strong resemblance between the two of them," Lester, also the children's godfather, told News of the World," "Paris has blue eyes, pale complexion and high cheekbones."

While some were surprised by Lester's announcement, Jackson's friend Uri Geller wasn't one of them.

"I was not surprised because I knew it all along," Geller has said, "simply because Michael told me these facts."

Lester said he came forward now, six weeks after Jackson's June 25 death, because he wants to remain in contact with the pop icon's children.

"I dearly want to remain in contact with those kids, and I feel now this is the only way that I can ensure that," he said.

Lester said he was also concerned that Prince, Paris and Jackson's youngest son, Prince Michael II, 7, also known as Blanket, will be raised as Jehovah's Witnesses. While Katherine Jackson is a Jehovah's Witness, Lester said Michael Jackson wanted them raised Catholic.

Rowe was said to have similar concerns about the children's religious upbringing.

Toby Kleinman of the Center for Protection of Children said that if Lester were to try to make any claim to the Jackson children it would be his relationship with them, not a possible sperm donation, that would stand up in court.

"A sperm donor does not have any rights in California," she said. "The question is whether or not he has any standing whatsoever to have a relationship with the Jackson children."

Kleinman pointed to past cases of grandparents or siblings going to court to get visitation rights, but noted that it would be up to the judge to decide whether or not its worth interfering with Katherine Jackson's custody arrangement to allow Lester court-appointed visitation.

Growing Number of Men Named as Potential Sperm Donors for Jackson Children

Though members of Jackson's family have steadfastly maintained that the singer fathered his own children -- Blanket was born to an unnamed surrogate mother -- the children's paternity has been in question almost since the day he died.

Some had questioned whether Jackon's Beverly Hills dermatologist, Arnold Klein, had fathered the children.

When ABC News' Diane Sawyer questioned Klein about the speculation last month, he gave a cryptic reply that left room for more questions.

"All I can tell you is, best of my knowledge, I'm not the father of these children," he said.

Klein even petitioned the judge last week to give him a say in the children's upbringing. While the motion was rejected, Klein's attorney has said he'll try again in September.

Another paternity rumor is that Jackson's close friend and bodyguard Miko Brando -- son of Marlon Brando -- could be Blanket's biological father. Brando has denied the claim.

Jackson's manager has said such speculation is all nonsense.

"I'm sure those kids are Michael's," he said. " Michael's told me they're his. Debbie Rowe has told me they're his."

While various men are eyed as being the biological father of Jackson's three children, questions remain about whether Jackson fathered a fourth child, Omer Bhatti, now 25.

Bhatti, an aspiring rapper from Norway who lived with Jackson for years at Neverland Ranch, has denied that Jackson was his biological father. But Joe Jackson told TV One last month that he believed Bhatti was, in fact, a Jackson.

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