LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge on Wednesday intervened in the turmoil roiling the Jackson family, appointing the son of Tito Jackson to serve as temporary guardian of Michael Jackson's children in the absence of the family matriarch and amid a feud over the pop superstar's estate.
Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff temporarily suspended Katherine Jackson as the children's guardian because she was in Arizona and hadn't spoken with them in several days. He appointed Tito Joe "TJ" Jackson to serve as temporary guardian with the ability to control the hilltop home where the children live and to take on other supervision duties.
Katherine Jackson told ABC News that she was hurt by the court ruling and it was "based on a bunch of lies."
"I am devastated that while I've been away, that my children, my grandchildren, have been taken away from me, and I'm coming home to see about that, also," she said reading from a prepared statement.
She denied the suggestion made in court and in court filings to support TJ Jackson's appointment that she was being held against her will.
"I am here today to let everybody know that I am fine and I am here with my children, and my children would never do a thing to me like that, holding me against my will," she said while her children Randy, Janet and Rebbie were seated next to her. "It's very stupid for people to think that."
Beckloff said there was no evidence that Katherine Jackson had done anything wrong but instead it appeared she was being prevented from fulfilling her role as guardian through the "intentional acts of third parties." He didn't elaborate but made the decision after reading court filings in which TJ Jackson expressed concern that Katherine Jackson was being prevented from returning
He cited a Monday incident in which Janet, Randy and Jermaine Jackson arrived at the children's home and told them they could speak with their grandmother but had to leave with them.
"This was odd and disturbing to me and (the children) and heightened our concern that our grandmother was being prohibited from returning home," TJ Jackson wrote in a sworn statement. The incident turned into a confrontation between two male adults at the house and sheriff's officials say it remains an ongoing battery investigation.
Beckloff listened as attorneys described Katherine Jackson's demeanor as unusual on phone calls placed to the children hours before the hearing.
"His performance in court today breaks my heart," Randy Jackson wrote on Twitter. "He knows his Aunts and Uncles would never hold their mother against her will. That's ABSURD."
TJ Jackson's attorney Charles Shultz also revealed in court filings that the children were forced to miss school Wednesday because of concerns about their security. Shultz wrote in a filing that around 3:30 a.m., a new security team arrived at the Jackson home in suburban Calabasas claiming they had been authorized by Katherine Jackson to take charge.
He wrote that the guards asked about the children's school. "That last inquiry caused the head of security to be concerned and he advised that (the children) stay home from school on Wednesday."
Beckloff ruled the Jackson children could not leave California without court approval.
Katherine Jackson's attorney Perry Sanders Jr. said after the hearing that he spoke with his client as she was driving back to Los Angeles from Tucson, Ariz., where she had been since July 15.
"She sounded absolutely fine, lucid and her normal self," he said.
Sanders plans to ask the court to reinstate Katherine Jackson as guardian of the children when she is back in Los Angeles. He was looking forward to meeting with her in person on Thursday.