First comes love, then comes secret marriage, then comes secret baby.
According to a former brother-in-law of Janet Jackson, that's how things worked during the pop star's hush-hush union to singer James DeBarge, with the couple producing, but never publicly acknowledging, a daughter.
The Jackson-DeBarge offspring was raised by Rebbie Jackson, the eldest and lowest-profile of the musically inclined siblings, Young DeBarge, a brother of James DeBarge, told New York City's WQHT-FM ("Hot 97") on Friday. His reputed niece, identified as Renee, is now 18, he claimed.
Jackson, 39, has not responded to Young DeBarge's statements, which is nothing new. The pop star is never in a rush to confirm or deny information about her life offstage. It was years before she acknowledged that she'd been married to James DeBarge as a teenager; it wasn't until choreographer Rene Elizondo filed for divorce that his relationship with Jackson was revealed to be of the husband-and-wife variety. Even today, there are whispers that record producer Jermaine Dupri is more than Jackson's boyfriend, and is, in fact, her third husband.
The secret baby story is one that has kicked around for years. Brian Oxman, an attorney for the Jackson family, said the version he heard had Jackson's record label urging the then-emerging star to keep the kid out of the picture. Since Oxman was in a position to ask if it was true, he said he did. "The answer is no way, no how," he said Monday. "From the sisters to the mother, every last one of them said it never happened."
Oxman said he believes the Jacksons, labeling the secret baby story an "urban legend."
By all accounts, Janet Jackson wed James DeBarge, of the family band DeBarge ("Rhythm of the Night"), in 1984, when the future Super Bowl flasher was 18, and he was 21. The marriage was said to have ended in annulment in 1985.
Doing the math, a Jackson-DeBarge baby who was 18 in October 2005, would have to have been born in 1987, or possibly late 1986. Either way, the timeline means the child would have been born after the couple's reported breakup, and during Jackson's emergence as a superstar with her solo breakthrough, Control
Rebbie Jackson, 56, is the mother of three children with longtime husband Nathaniel Brown.
According to a British entertainment Website, FemaleFirst, Janet Jackson told British Glamour last year that, thanks to her relationship with Dupri, she was contemplating having children.
"For the first time in my life," Jackson said.