Documentary Details Sex Abuse Claims Against Michael Jackson
Warning: This article contains details some may find disturbing.
Michael Jackson sexually abused boys for years and took extraordinary steps to ensure his victims told no one.
This is according to James Safechuck and Wade Robson, whose shocking allegations against the late King of Pop are revealed in Leaving Neverland, a documentary that premiered Friday at the Sundance Film Festival.
Safechuck, who starred in a Pepsi commercial with Jackson, said he was 10 years old when the singer asked if they could sleep in the same room during a trip to Hawaii.
The sexual abuse started during a trip to Paris, Safechuck claimed. “He introduced me to masturbation,” he recalled. “And that’s how it all started.”
Safechuck alleged: “Michael would like it if you would bend over and spread your cheeks. Then he would masturbate.”
Safechuck said there were only a few places at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch where the two didn’t engage in sex acts. "It sounds sick, but it’s kind of like when you’re first dating somebody,” he said. “You do a lot of it.”
Safechuck alleged the abuse “happened every day" and Jackson rationalized it as nothing but a “way of experiencing your love.”
He said Jackson would make him practice putting his clothes on quickly and quietly in case someone was coming – and warned him that if anyone found out about their relationship, their lives “would be over.”
Safechuck, 40, said Jackson even staged a mock wedding for them at which they exchanged vows Jackson had written. Safechuck said he still has the ring Jackson gave him at the ceremony.
Robson, 36, said he was just 7 years old when his parents left him at Neverland Ranch for a week while they vacationed in Arizona.
He alleged the music superstar started by fondling him over his pyjamas and then progressed to kissing, showering together, masturbation and oral sex. Jackson allegedly showed him pornography.
“I liked the feeling that I was making him happy, that I was pleasing him,” Robson recalled.
Robson claimed Jackson told him they were brought together by God and “this is how we show our love.” The singer, he said, called him “son” and repeatedly warned him against trusting women. Jackson allegedly warned Robson they would both be jailed if anyone found out.
Robson said Jackson sexually abused him for seven years. “Every night I was with him there was abuse,” he alleged. Sometimes, Robson’s mother was in the next room.
Both men alleged that the sexual encounters with Jackson happened less frequently once the singer met new, younger boys.
Robson said their sexual relationship ended for good after Jackson attempted anal sex but had to stop because Robson was in too much pain.
When Jordy Chandler accused Jackson of sexual abuse in 1993, Safechuck and Robson testified that Jackson had never abused them. In the film, both said they were coached by Jackson’s representatives. (Chandler eventually accepted a multi-million-dollar settlement.)
Safechuck and Robson said in the film they have suffered mental health issues as a result of their experiences. “I don’t think time heals this one,” Safechuck said. “It just gets worse.”
Late Friday, Jackson’s estate issued a statement about the film. Read it below:
"Leaving Neverland isn’t a documentary, it is the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death. The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact. These claims were the basis of lawsuits filed by these two admitted liars which were ultimately dismissed by a judge. The two accusers testified under oath that these events never occurred. They have provided no independent evidence and absolutely no proof in support of their accusations, which means the entire film hinges solely on the word of two perjurers.
Tellingly, the director admitted at the Sundance Film Festival that he limited his interviews only to these accusers and their families. In doing so, he intentionally avoided interviewing numerous people over the years who spent significant time with Michael Jackson and have unambiguously stated that he treated children with respect and did nothing hurtful to them. By choosing not to include any of these independent voices who might challenge the narrative that he was determined to sell, the director neglected fact checking so he could craft a narrative so blatantly one-sided that viewers never get anything close to a balanced portrait.
For 20 years, Wade Robson denied in court and in numerous interviews, including after Michael passed, that he was a victim and stated he was grateful for everything Michael had done for him. His family benefitted from Michael’s kindness, generosity and career support up until Michael’s death. Conveniently left out of Leaving Neverland was the fact that when Robson was denied a role in a Michael Jackson themed Cirque du Soleil production, his assault allegations suddenly emerged.
We are extremely sympathetic to any legitimate victim of child abuse. This film, however, does those victims a disservice. Because despite all the disingenuous denials made that this is not about money, it has always been about money – millions of dollars — dating back to 2013 when both Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who share the same law firm, launched their unsuccessful claims against Michael’s Estate. Now that Michael is no longer here to defend himself, Robson, Safechuck and their lawyers continue their efforts to achieve notoriety and a payday by smearing him with the same allegations a jury found him innocent of when he was alive."
Jackson, who died in 2009, was acquitted of molesting Gavin Arvizo (who is 30 this year) after a 2005 trial, where prosecutors gave evidence that at least two other alleged victims had reached confidential settlements with the singer in the ‘90s.
Jackson’s eldest nephew Taj Jackson has started a GoFundMe campaign in hopes of producing a documentary that will defend the singer’s legacy from “vicious and calculated lies.”
He wrote: “Michael Jackson died an innocent, vindicated man. The world needs to understand this most important and basic fact.”
Taj called Safechuck and Robson “self-confessed liars” who have “accrued large legal debts to the estate they tried and failed to extort.” (Safechuck and Robson said Friday they received no compensation for appearing in the documentary.)
In a post-screening Q&A, Robson was asked if he had a message for Jackson fans who continue to protect the singer’s legacy.
“I don’t feel like there’s anything I need to say to them except I understand that it’s hard for them to believe,” he said. “We can only accept and understand something when we’re ready.
“Maybe we’ll never be ready. Maybe we will. That’s their journey.”