Former Jackson adviser: 'Michael's life is in serious decline'
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Orthodox rabbi who was once one of Michael Jackson's closest spiritual advisers told CNN Thursday that he worries the pop star's life is rapidly deteriorating and could be "cut short" like Elvis Presley or Janis Joplin.
Interviewed by CNN's "American Morning" a day after a California grand jury indicted Jackson, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach said, "Michael's life is in serious decline even without this indictment. He has not sort of gotten that there has to be major changes." (Jackson indicted)
Boteach said he does not believe Jackson is guilty of child molestation charges the district attorney filed last year. (Background)
In January, the singer pleaded not guilty to seven counts of child molestation charges. (Full story)
"My criticism of Michael is his self-absorption -- the whole celebrity thing where he needs to feel like he's worshipped," Boteach said Thursday.
Boteach has not spoken to Jackson since 2001, and he has come under heavy criticism from Jackson supporters for some of his public comments. Jackson's spokespeople and family members have repeatedly condemned those who are no longer in touch with the pop star but still discuss him in the media.
Jackson's family has also denied suggestions that the pop star's life is unhealthy, insisting he is doing very well, particularly for someone who faces his unique pressures.
Boteach said he and Jackson were "extremely close," but he couldn't "stand by and watch someone I care about so deteriorate. My influence was totally negated. ... if he's not going to seek counsel and really make changes, he will discredit anyone who's in his circle. And I couldn't let that happen."
"My great fear, and why I felt I had to be distanced from Michael ... was that he would not live long. My fear was that Michael's life would be cut short," he said. "When you have no ingredients of a healthy life, when you are totally detached from that which is normal, and when you are a super-celebrity you, God forbid, end up like Janis Joplin like Elvis... Michael is headed in that direction."
Jackson has good legal counsel, but others in his inner circle are giving him "terrible" guidance, Boteach said. "Why didn't someone say to him... 'What are you doing outside a courtroom egging on your fans as if you have contempt for the whole legal process? What are you doing going on TV, on '60 Minutes,' defending sharing a bed with children?'
"Michael's gotten rid of anyone who has given him sound advice because he hates being challenged. He buys his own PR that he is the king of pop and therefore he's immune to criticism. But you know, when you are immune to criticism you cannot shape your life. You can't remold it once it's begun to deteriorate."