Michael Jackson's Estate Dismisses 'Leaving Neverland' Doc As 'Tabloid Character Assassination' Of Late Star
In a statement, the icon's estate said the documentary is "the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death."
In Leaving Neverland, a new documentary about Michael Jackson, two alleged victims of the late singer explain how he abused them when they were children. The film debuted at Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah over the weekend.
The documentary shed renewed light on the sexual abuse accusations against Jackson, for which he was investigated in 1993. A multi-million dollar settlement was reached and the investigation was dropped. In 2005, he went to trial, but was acquitted. Jackson was known to invite young, often underprivileged kids to his palatial estate in Los Olivos, CA, which he called Neverland Ranch.
Wade Robson and James Safechuck, now in their thirties, allege Jackson began abusing them when they were seven and 10. Safechuck says he was gifted jewelry in exchange for sexual favors. He claims Jackson bestowed a diamond-lined gold band upon him during a "mock wedding" ceremony.
Robson also says Jackson anally penetrated him. Later, Jackson allegedly asked Robson to throw away the underwear he was wearing at the time in order to dispose of evidence.
The day the documentary debuted, Jackson's estate released a statement condemning it for picking at old wounds. It also questioned Robson and Safechuck's trustworthiness.
The statement also pointed out filmmaker Dan Reed only included Robson and Safechuck in the documentary and "neglected fact checking so he could craft a narrative so blatantly one-sided that viewers never get anything close to a balanced portrait."
However, attendees of the debut were shaken.
Leaving Neverland will air on HBO in 2019.