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Katherine Jackson reinstated as guardian of Michael's children

A judge says the probate court found the matriarch was doing 'a wonderful job' raising the kids. She says she didn't know of her alleged kidnapping until an inoperable TV at a Tucson spa sprang to life.

August 03, 2012|By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times
  • Katherine Jackson, with her son Jermaine, is shown last year. In a court declaration she described a coordinated effort to isolate her last month at a Tucson spa.
Katherine Jackson, with her son Jermaine, is shown last year. In a court… (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles…)

Michael Jackson's elderly mother learned that she had been reported missing when a broken television in her room at an Arizona spa suddenly powered on and began broadcasting a story about her alleged kidnapping, according to court documents filed Thursday.

Katherine Jackson wrote that her companions at the isolated resort — a group identified in other court filings as including her children Janet and Jermaine — never told her that her grandchildren were trying to reach her.

Her cellphone was taken when she arrived at the Tucson spa, her room phone didn't work and "when one of the people with me asked if I could communicate with my iPad and I replied yes, my iPad was also taken away," she wrote in the signed declaration.

It was only when an inoperable TV in her room — a set she repeatedly asked be fixed — sprang to life one morning that she found out she had become international news.

"While there was no picture, I heard a broadcast that stated I was missing," she wrote.

The matriarch's account of the trip that sparked a very public family feud came in filings seeking her reinstatement as guardian for her late son's three children. Judge Mitchell Beckloff, who had stripped her of guardianship last week amid the kidnapping allegations, reappointed her at a Los Angeles County Superior Court hearing Thursday.

The judge said an investigation by the probate court found that Katherine Jackson was doing "a wonderful job" raising Prince, 15; Paris, 14; and Blanket, 10.

"It's clear to me the children are well cared for by Mrs. Jackson. It is clear to me they love her very much," he said.

The cousin tapped as temporary guardian will stay on as co-guardian at the request of Katherine Jackson and the children. Tito Joe "T.J." Jackson, 34, has helped raise the three since their father's 2009 death, and Beckloff said that given his background — he is the son of the Jackson Five's Tito — he can "relate" to the children.

Diana Ross, named in Jackson's will as a backup guardian, met with the children Wednesday and approves of the arrangement, their attorney said.

Katherine Jackson's attorneys declined to elaborate on the filings, saying relatives were trying to move past the "chaos." In an ABC News interview Katherine Jackson denied being kidnapped, but in her court declaration she described a coordinated effort to isolate her in Arizona.

She wrote that on July 14, "a doctor was brought to my home stating that he had been in contact with my longtime personal physician and was coming to check on me because my personal physician was unavailable."

That person, she said, suggested she fly rather than be driven to New Mexico, where her sons were performing in concert. T.J. Jackson said in a previous declaration that the doctor was an impostor brought in by one of his aunts to induce her to take the flight.

Katherine Jackson wrote that at the Arizona spa, she was reassured that the children were well and was not told that Paris Jackson had taken to Twitter demanding her return.

"At the time, I trusted the people I was with to be honest with me," she said.

One of her attorneys, Perry R. Sanders Jr., wrote that he flew to Tucson in an attempt to speak with her July 25 and met with Janet and Jermaine Jackson but was not allowed to see his client. The following day, her lawyers went to court and she subsequently returned to California.

Janet Jackson's publicist said the singer's only comment would be on Twitter, thanking fans for "knowing fact from fiction."

A representative for Jermaine Jackson did not return a message seeking comment. In a statement Wednesday, Jermaine Jackson wrote that "there was never a malicious attempt to 'block' the kids from talking to her. We were simply worried that a call home would ... increase pressure on Mother — and pressure was what a doctor said she didn't need."

He wrote that in an attempt at family peace, he was withdrawing his support for a letter by some of his siblings demanding the resignation of the executors of Michael Jackson's estate. In their filings, Katherine Jackson's lawyers noted speculation about a plot to "gain control over Mrs. Jackson as a means to get at funds" belonging to the music idol's children and expressed confidence in the new guardianship arrangement in preventing misconduct.

"T.J. will be able to insure that no outside forces try to divert the family allowance," the lawyers wrote.

harriet.ryan@latimes.com

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