- 07 Mar 19
The first part of two-part documentary on claims of child sexual abuse by Michael Jackson aired on Channel 4 last night.
Leaving Neverland Part 1 - directed by Dan Reed - aired last night, and featured extensive interviews with Wade Robson and James Safechuck (as well as their families), who claimed that the two boys had been sexual abused by popstar Michael Jackson between the ages of 6 up until they were in their early teens.
The interviews detailed how Michael Jackson drew the Robson and Safechuck families into his personal company, before bestowing gifts to the families and using both Wade and James for sex.
The documentary provoked a huge reaction, both online and in the media. Acclaimed filmmaker Louis Theroux said, in no uncertain terms: "If you can’t see that Michael Jackson was a paedophile after watching Dan Reed's film you are being wilfully blind. And if you are campaigning against it you are actively colluding in the silencing of victims."
Despite this, the Michael Jackson estate - which has vigorously denied all claims of wrong-doing by the singer - has gone on the offence, with a campaign of adverts, lawsuits and interviews which are attempting to paint him in a better light.
According to reports, Jackson’s estate has made as much as $2.1bn since his death in 2009 and is run by John McClain, a co-executor with Jackson’s former lawyer John Branca. The estate originally tried to block the release of the documentary by contacting Channel 4 and issuing a $100m lawsuit against HBO (which broadcast Dan Reed’s film last weekend in the US).
In a statement, those representing the estate hit out at the documentary for "character assassination", and said that the film "takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact”.
Leaving Neverland Part 2
In the second half of the documentary, which airs tonight, Wade Robson addresses the fact that he had previously defended Jackson during an investigation into abuse by the singer in 1993. After questions from law enforcement, Robson told his family that Jackson had never touched them.
“As soon as the cop started asking me these questions, the first thing that came to mind for me was everything that Michael started saying to me when I was 7,” said Robson, who was 11 at the time. “If anyone ever found out that we were doing any of these sort of things, these sexual things, that he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives. It was terrifying.”
The second part of the documentary also reveals Robson and Safechuck experiences after the alleged abuse by Jackson stopped. In it, Safechuck talks about the self-hatred he feels because of his experiences, while his wife recounts his battle with depression. Robson also documents says his depressed and describes how he almost fully retreated from the world.
Leaving Neverland Part 2 airs tonight on Channel 4.