LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Pop star Justin Timberlake issued a public apology to his ex-girlfriend Britney Spears and singer Janet Jackson on Friday, saying he had failed them in the past.
Timberlake spoke on his Instagram account after criticism this week on social media and mainstream media of interviews he gave about 20 years ago about his sex life with Spears when they were both at the peak of their careers.
The backlash came following the airing of a TV documentary about Spears’ rise and fall, including how the media embarrassed her when their relationship ended in 2002.
Timberlake has also been dogged for years on allegations that he did not take sufficient responsibility for the infamous “locker room malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show when he mistakenly exposed Janet Jackson’s chest on stage.
“I want to specifically apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson, both individually, because I care and respect these women and I know I failed,” Timberlake, 40, wrote on Instagram.
The “Sexy Back” pop star, now married to actress Jessica Biel, said she regretted speaking out of turn, or not speaking, about what was correct in the past.
“I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism,” he said.
Timberlake and Spears dated for about three years before abruptly parting ways in 2002. The media questioned Spears about her virginity, while Timberlake said he had slept with her and later wrote a song “Cry Me a River” in which It implied that she had cheated on the relationship.
In Friday’s apology, Timberlake said the entertainment industry prepares white men for success.
“Due to my ignorance, I did not recognize it for all that it was while it was happening in my own life,” he said.
Spears’ business and personal affairs have been controlled by court-appointed conservatives since 2008.
Representatives for Jackson and Spears did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Edited by Richard Chang