December 11, 2003 01:00 PM

Rallying behind their embattled son, Katherine and Joe Jackson — the parents of Michael Jackson — vow they will adopt their son’s three children should it become necessary as the pop star battles multiple counts of child-molestation charges in Santa Barbara.

“We’re not going to let anybody take those kids,” Michael’s mother, Katherine, says in a documentary set to be broadcast on British TV and on ABC’s “20/20” Friday.

“They’re Michael’s kids,” she says. Referring to authorities, she added: “They have no right to try and take those kids.”

California attorney Gloria Allred, who has clashed with Michael Jackson in the past, is seeking a child-welfare probe of the pop star and urged authorities to take away custody of his three children because of the current sex-abuse allegations.

Jackson has two boys, 6-year-old Prince Michael I and the baby, Prince Michael II. He also has a 5-year-old daughter, Paris. Little is known about Prince Michael II, whose mother has not been identified. Prince Michael I and Paris were born during his marriage to nurse Debbie Rowe, which ended in 1999.

Michael shocked fans — and outraged child-endangerment authorities — earlier this year, when he dangled Prince Michael II over a Berlin hotel balcony. Jackson later apologized for the gesture, which he originally said was because his fans wanted to see the boy.

In the upcoming TV special, Katherine says she would adopt Jackson’s children if the situation warranted it. “Well, they’re my grandkids,” she said. “I have to.”

The possibility that Jackson could lose his parental rights was mentioned during last month’s press conference announcing that Jackson, 45, faced charges of committing “lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14.” (Jackson remains free on $3 million bail.)

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon said at the time that any decision about the custody of Jackson’s children would have to be handled by the juvenile court system.

Friday’s televised interview marks the first time since Jackson’s Nov. 20 arrest that his parents have spoken publicly. During the course of the program, Katherine expresses the desire that their eight children were more spiritual as grown-ups, while Joe plays down criticism that their children are what they are today because of the way they were brought up.

Said Joe Jackson: “I raised them and I fed them and kept plenty of clothes on them. We didn’t have much, but what we had we was happy with it, yes.”

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