Turmoil in Michael Jackson’s family continued yesterday as a family feud that has engulfed the singer’s mother and children continued to play out online, on cable TV and in a videotaped driveway confrontation that authorities continue to investigate.
It should perhaps be no surprise that a family that has spent decades in the spotlight is airing its troubles in public, but the dispute has left many, including estate executors, worried.
“We are concerned that we do what we can to protect them from undue influences, bullying, greed, and other unfortunate circumstances,” executors John Branca and John McClain wrote in a letter posted on fan sites hours after deputies responded to a family disturbance at the hilltop home where Katherine Jackson and her three grandchildren live.
By day’s end, Randy Jackson accused Mr Branca and Mr McClain of criminal misconduct and claimed his brother’s 2002 will was a fake.
“They know that they’ve been caught, they know that they’ve falsified a document and they know that there are questions that we want answered,” Randy Jackson told the Rev Al Sharpton in his MSNBC show. “This family is united to right a wrong.”
He accused the estate of trying to keep the family’s disagreements at the forefront to deflect attention away from questions about the will.
Jackson’s estate has denied all claims of wrongdoing and hinted that further action may be taken to protect the singer’s children.
“We believe measures are being put in place that will help protect them from what they are having to deal with,” Mr Branca and Mr McClain wrote.
Michael Jackson’s only daughter, Paris, has posted updates in recent days on Twitter, including her displeasure with not being allowed to speak with her grandmother for more than a week.
Yesterday, she wrote, “9 days and counting ... so help me god I will make whoever did this pay.”
Katherine Jackson was reported missing over the weekend but later found to be with her daughter Rebbie and other relatives in Arizona. She has not spoken to her grandchildren – Prince, Paris and Blanket – since leaving the Los Angeles area on July 15.
Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said deputies continue to investigate the altercation that took place on Monday afternoon, but he said there were no indications it involved the singer’s children.
He said the incident involved two adult males, but declined to identify them further. A battery case may be presented to prosecutors, but Mr Whitmore added that decision has not yet been made.
Randy Jackson said he and brother Jermaine and sister Janet went to the home in Calabasas on Monday to invite his brother’s older children, Prince and Paris, to join their grandmother in Arizona.
Security footage of the incident was obtained by Good Morning America and celebrity website TMZ.
Sandra Ribera, an attorney for Katherine Jackson, said authorities were called after the singer’s children were accosted by relatives who followed them into their gated community in Calabasas.
“After exiting their vehicles, Jackson family members ran up to Michael’s children as they yelled and began to aggressively grab at the cell (mobile) phones in their hands,” Ms Ribera wrote in a statement.
Ms Ribera claims “a plan has been in place for the last three years to remove Katherine Jackson from her home and her beloved grandchildren”.
Michael Jackson died in June 2009 at age 50 and left his estate to care for his mother and three children. He left nothing to his father or siblings, who have repeatedly tried to intervene in the estate.
Several have expressed doubts about the validity of his will, but they have never mounted a formal court challenge.
Mr Whitmore said the missing person’s investigation into Katherine Jackson’s whereabouts has been closed, as was an inquiry about possible elder abuse of the 82-year-old Jackson family matriarch.
He said deputies interviewed Katherine Jackson after a family business associate warned authorities that she was possibly being emotionally abused by a family member. Mr Whitmore said the elder Jackson emphatically denied the accusations.
He said an abundance of caution has investigators still looking into claims that Katherine Jackson is the subject of financial abuse.
The estate and Katherine Jackson’s guardianship of the children are supervised by a probate judge. The judge recently received a financial summary showing that Michael Jackson’s estate has earned $475 million US dollars (€392m) in gross profits since his death, and many of his major debts have either been resolved or are no longer delinquent.
The singer died with more than 500 million dollars (€412m) in debts.
Janet, Jermaine and Randy Jackson were joined by siblings Tito and Rebbie in a letter leaked last week, calling on Mr Branca and Mr McClain to resign and accusing them of manipulating their mother. The letter also claims that Jackson’s will is invalid.
The estate has denied the accusations, and no challenge to the executors has been filed in court.
It appeared yesterday that the battles would continue for the near future.
“This is not going to go away,” Randy Jackson predicted.