Jackson: I Made a 'Terrible Mistake'
21 minutes ago
By TONY CZUCZKA, Associated Press Writer
BERLIN (AP) - Michael Jackson (news) said he made a "terrible mistake" by holding his young son over the railing of a fourth-floor balcony at a Berlin hotel to show fans who wanted to see the child but shocking many people who watched the scene captured on video.
German and U.S. television news programs repeatedly broadcast footage of the reclusive pop star's brief appearance Tuesday at the Hotel Adlon.
The boy had a white cloth over his head as Jackson held him with one arm around his waist over the edge of the hotel's iron balcony railing.
The child, wearing a baby blue jumper, was the singer's third and youngest, Prince Michael II, said Antje Sigesmund, a spokeswoman for the Bambi entertainment award ceremony, which Jackson is attending in Berlin.
On Tuesday night, Jackson issued a statement saying he had gotten carried away when fans below the window asked to see the baby.
"I made a terrible mistake," he said. "I got caught up in the excitement of the moment. I would never intentionally endanger the lives of my children."
Dozens of fans had gathered outside the hotel, just opposite Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate, and security had to remove some from the lobby. Several carried banners, including one that said "Save the Kids," with drawings of children's faces, a reference to Jackson's philanthropy.
Another said "Really good to see you."
Jackson, wearing a bright red shirt, smiled and waved to the fans, at one point tossing a small white towel to the crowd below. The singer then went inside and retrieved the toddler, using one arm to hold the boy out over the iron rail.
Fans cheered as the pop star appeared with the child, but Jackson quickly retreated into his hotel room.
The Chicago-based advocacy group Prevent Child Abuse America criticized Jackson's behavior, though it said the boy did not appear to be harmed.
"It is a painful reminder that even the most well-intentioned among us sometimes act in ways that put children in danger of being abused or neglected," said A. Sidney Johnson, president and CEO of the group.
Little is known about Prince Michael II. People Magazine reported in August that he was six months old. The magazine, citing an anonymous friend, said the boy was not adopted and did not identify the mother.
The singer also has two children with ex-wife Debbie Rowe: a 5-year-old boy — also named Prince Michael — and a 4-year-old girl, Paris. The couple divorced in 1999.
In Berlin, Jackson was taking a break from a California courtroom where he testified last week in a $21 million lawsuit claiming he backed out of concerts. He arrived in Berlin to pick up a Bambi for life achievement Thursday.
He is to attend a benefit for homeless children and a charity auction where he will put a jacket and hat on the block Wednesday.