Diana Ross is the latest celebrity to defend Michael Jackson over claims of sexual abuse
Diana Ross has taken to social media to defend Michael Jackson over allegations of sex abuse, pleading with his critics to "stop in the name of love".
Writing on Twitter on Saturday, the 74-year-old threw her weight behind Jackson, who is accused of grooming and sexually assaulting Wade Robson and James Safechuck in Dan Reed's documentary Leaving Neverland.
Speaking out in the Thriller star's defence, Ross told her followers that the King of Pop was a "magnificent incredible force" and referenced one of her most famous songs.
"This is what’s on my heart this morning," she wrote. "I believe and trust that Michael Jackson was and is A magnificent incredible force to me and to many others. STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE [sic]".
Just over an hour later, the Supremes lead singer shared Stevie Wonder's song Love's In Need Of Love Today, presumably another reference to her feelings on the allegations.
Her message received a mixed reaction on Twitter, with both Jackson supporters and critics turning to the comment section to express their views.
The Where Did Our Love Go singer had a close friendship with Jackson throughout his lifetime. They first met when the Bad star was signed to Motown Records with the Jackson 5 as a child.
The father-of-three made his solo debut in 1971 appearing on one of Ross' TV specials and in 1978 they starred together in The Wiz, a musical fantasy film directed by Sidney Lumet.
Over the years, they remained friends and when Jackson died in 2009, he named Ross to take custody of his children - Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., Paris and Prince - if anything were to happen to their grandmother, Katherine Jackson.
Ross' support for Jackson comes after Barbra Streisand's controversial comments on the matter. In an interview with The Times newspaper, the ten-time Grammy Award winner said believed the allegations against the late superstar, but argued that his actions "didn't kill" the accusers.
After confirming that she "absolutely" believed the claims, she said: "His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has. You can say 'molested', but those children, as you heard say [Robson and Safechuck], they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them."
She added that she felt bad for both the children and for Jackson, adding: "I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him".
The A Star Is Born actress was heavily criticised afterwards and released a statement that read: "To be crystal clear, there is no situation or circumstance where it is OK for the innocence of children to be taken advantage of by anyone.
"The stories these two young men shared were painful to hear, and I feel nothing but sympathy for them. The single most important role of being a parent is to protect their children. It’s clear that the parents of the two young men were also victimized and seduced by fame and fantasy."
On Instagram, she added: "I am profoundly sorry for any pain or misunderstanding I caused by not choosing my words more carefully about Michael Jackson and his victims, because the words as printed do not reflect my true feelings.
"I didn’t mean to dismiss the trauma these boys experienced in any way. I feel deep remorse and hope James and Wade know that I truly respect and admire them for speaking their truth."