Though they're on the outs, Michael Jackson's former longtime friend Uri Geller is leaping to his defense.
The celebrity psychic and motivational speaker said Tuesday that he believes Jackson is innocent and that he regrets not being able to prevent the negative publicity that arose from the singer's admission of sleeping with children. It's a sound bite he takes some responsibility for, since he helped facilitate the singer's fateful interview with Martin Bashir (see "Jacko's Bizarre Behavior Examined In Two New Documentaries"). Still, he said Jackson bears most of the blame because he'd warned the singer more than once that having children sleep over was not smart.
"I told him, 'You'll end up in jail,' " Geller said. "Not because he's guilty ... but because this behavior of inviting children into the bedroom, the behavior is unacceptable to the outside world, to the community, to society, and society gets very, very suspicious."
Unfortunately, Geller said, his counsel wasn't enough because he wasn't being backed up by people in Jackson's camp, who should have taken a harder line with the singer and not just automatically agreed to whatever Jackson wanted.
"It's just, 'Yes, Michael,' and he might not like to hear this, but in my opinion, Michael needs help, and I don't mean for what he's been accused of doing. ... He needs more [people who aren't afraid to speak the truth]. I have my own chutzpah, I am an Israeli and I don't bullsh--. I couldn't care less what people think about me. I speak the truth."
If Jackson had such a brutally honest sounding board, Geller said, perhaps someone would've stepped in and convinced Jackson not to do the Bashir interview after Geller had recommended it. Geller said he felt duped by Bashir, who told him he wanted to do a "very positive documentary, a really wonderful documentary ... to bring justice into the man's life."
"In short, I fell for it," Geller said. "But I was convinced ... that Michael would call his lawyers or agents or managers or whoever is advising him, his PR company, and at least let them see the agreement the TV station made him sign, or at least have some sort of power or veto in this agreement. And apparently Michael didn't do such a thing."
Since the documentary aired, Geller and Jackson have only spoken once, "and Michael was very upset," Geller said. "Although I'm not to blame for Michael Jackson's not asking a solicitor to read that contract, or Bashir for doing that unbelievably negative documentary, I was a person that he trusted," Geller said. "My friendship toward him still stands, but I think that his friendship towards me tarnished a little bit."
That's not going to prevent him, he said, from speaking out on Jackson's behalf. "He needs all the friends in the world right now," Geller said. "And let's get something straight. I have been approached nonstop to speak and talk about him. I try to defend him because I don't believe the allegations. It is impossible for me to believe Michael would abuse a child with cancer. And I would be shocked to the core, my belief system will be shattered, I would be absolutely devastated if I were wrong. Many people will be. I think this case will crumble. It won't go to court."
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see "Michael Jackson Accused."