On Friday, January 25th, the controversial two-part Michael Jackson documentary, Leaving Neverland, premiered at Sundance Film Festival, heading off a (very) small crowd of protestors and a ton of speculation as to what new allegations against the icon may surface.
READ: Michael Jackson Estate Calls Sexual Abuse Documentary “Outrageous And Pathetic”
With the premiere out of the way, Pitchfork reports that the four-hour documentary details the accounts of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who’ve accused Jackson of raping them as children and training them with drills to keep it a secret. Though he shares the spotlight with Safechuck in the doc, Robson previously denied under oath that Jackson behaved inappropriately with him, and only changed his story in 2016, when he filed suit against the performer’s estate. Safechuck reportedly filed a separate suit in 2014.
In response to the film’s premiere, Jackson’s estate has issued a follow-up statement to the one released a few weeks back. In the new address, the estate condemns the documentary, its subjects, and its director, Dan Reed — who previously worked on the 2014 documentary, The Pedophile Hunter — claiming Robson and Safechuck to be “two perjurers” and the film to be not a documentary, but the type of “tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death.” It goes one to state that “The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact.”
READ: Kanye West on Michael Jackson Documentary: “If We Going To Tear Down One Artist, Let’s Take Down All The Art”
You can read the full statement from Michael Jackson’s estate 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.”
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