The unpredictable wheel of Jackson family drama continued to spin on Wednesday (July 25) when a judge stripped family matriarch Katherine of her guardianship of the late King of Pop Michael's three children, handing over the duties to their cousin, TJ Jackson.
After nearly a week of increasingly bizarre public feuding, accusations, confrontations and allegations of kidnapping, TMZ reported that Judge Mitch Beckloff temporarily stripped Katherine of her guardianship over Paris, Prince and Prince Michael II ("Blanket").
He appointed TJ, 34, son of Tito Jackson, as the new guardian for the children, who appear to be at the center of a tug-of-war between the Michael's adult siblings. During an emergency guardianship hearing, Beckloff did not suspend Katherine for any wrongdoing, but said that she was being blocked from carrying out her guardianship by unnamed third parties, which the site speculated were siblings Randy, Janet, Jermaine and Rebbie.
Beckloff reportedly advised TJ and his lawyer to seek a permanent guardianship agreement following stories that Katherine, 82, was being held against her will by the same unidentified "third parties." During the hearing, TJ's lawyer described to the judge a strange phone call his client got from Katherine on Tuesday. "I've never heard my grandmother talk like that," TJ said, adding that she didn't sound "sharp" and that her "pauses, choice of vocabulary ... she has not used certain phrases like that before." He suspected she was talking in code.
Katherine Jackson called home on Tuesday after being out of touch for nine days, according to her lawyer. She had asked TJ to watch the children for her when she left her home on July 15.
In an unexpected twist, TMZ reported that one of Katherine's own lawyers, Sandra Ribera, said she had visited the family compound recently and also believes that her client is being held against her will. Katherine's other lawyer, Perry Sanders, said in court that he vigorously opposes a permanent move to strip Katherine of her guardianship and that when she returns to Los Angeles he will file a motion to reinstate her as guardian. CNN reported that after the hearing Sanders said he'd been informed by Randy Jackson that his mother was on a plane headed back to California.
Sanders also said the Tuesday night check-in call from Katherine was made after she met with Jermaine and Janet Jackson at a spa near Tucson, Arizona. He was barred, however, from meeting with her or talking to her at that time.
The judge also ordered that the children not be removed from California without a court order and that backup guardian Diana Ross and Debbie Rowe, biological mother of the two oldest children, also be informed of the order to keep the kids in the state. The move to wrestle guardianship away from the family matriarch was days in coming and allegedly supported by the children, as well as MJ's estate. A spokesperson for the estate had no comment on the actions at press time.
The temporary guardianship will be reviewed at a hearing scheduled for next month, where it's possible that Wednesday's action could be reversed.
While Michael's will gave Katherine custody of his children and a 20 percent stake in his massive estate, her husband, Joe Jackson, and the eight surviving Jackson siblings were completely cut out. Some of the siblings have reportedly been exploring a move to have the will invalidated by arguing that Michael was in New York on the day that the document was notarized in Los Angeles.
In a video that surfaced earlier this week, Janet Jackson is seen trying to take a cell phone away from Paris, 14, and berating her niece for using her phone to tweet about family business. That video leaked after Janet, Jermaine and Randy Jackson reportedly attempted to persuade Paris and Prince, 15, to leave Katherine's home on Monday. Both resisted and a short time later, sheriff's deputies arrived to break up a scuffle between Randy, Jermaine Jackson and TJ.
MTV News reported that police were called to the scene but did not make any arrests.