07/05/2019 13:45 BST | Updated 07/05/2019 13:47 BST

Madonna Defends Michael Jackson Over Sex Abuse Allegations: ‘People Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty’

The pair became friends at the height of their fame.

Madonna has spoken out over the allegations of sex abuse levelled against Michael Jackson, insisting “people are innocent until proven guilty”.

The Like A Prayer singer, who took Jackson as her date to the Oscars in 1991, admitted she had not yet watched the documentary Leaving Neverland, in which two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, allege that they were sexually abused as children by the Billie Jean singer.

Madonna and Michael Jackson at the 1991 Academy Awards

Madonna told British Vogue: “I don’t have a lynch-mob mentality, so in my mind, people are innocent until proven guilty.

“I’ve had a thousand accusations hurled at me that are not true. So my attitude when people tell me things about people is, ‘Can you prove it?’”

Asked what would constitute proof of Jackson’s guilt, she replied:  “I don’t know, I haven’t seen the film. But I guess it would be people recounting actual events – but then, of course, people sometimes lie.

“So I always say, ‘What’s the agenda? What do people want out of this? Are there people asking for money, is there some kind of extortion thing happening?’ I would take all of those things into consideration.”

Referring to the Leaving Neverland documentary, she said: “I guess I’ll get around to seeing it. I haven’t seen it yet.”

The film, which was shown on Channel 4 in March, was met by a furious reaction by the Jackson estate, which denied the allegations and lambasted the documentary as “an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in” on Jackson.

Following its broadcast, singer Barbra Streisand was criticised for saying the men who claim Jackson abused them were “thrilled to be there”.

She later posted an apology online, saying “I am profoundly sorry for any pain or misunderstanding I caused by not choosing my words more carefully about Michael Jackson and his victims.”

Read the full interview with Madonna in the June issue of British Vogue available on newsstands and digital download on May 10.

  • Rape Crisis services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence - 0808 802 9999
  • Survivors UK offers support for men and boys - 0203 598 3898