'Leaving Neverland' Delves Into Very Graphic Detail Of Jackson's Alleged Abuse
Warning: this story discusses child sex abuse.
A startling new documentary has shed more light on the child sex abuse allegations surrounding Michael Jackson.
Dan Reed's Leaving Neverland follows the stories of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men now in their 30s, who at ages seven and 10 respectively, had close friendships with Jackson that they claim turned into sexual abuse.
The documentary begins with Robson and Safechuck both detailing how they came into Jackson's inner circle, how he befriended them and their families, and the shocking, graphic allegations of years of sexual abuse.
Robson, born in Brisbane, claims Jackson sexually abused him from ages seven to 14. After a dancing competition when he was five years old, Robson was given the rare opportunity to meet Jackson. That began an unlikely friendship with the music legend.
In 1990, when Robson was seven, he and his family were invited to the Neverland Ranch, Jackson's infamous home. Robson described visiting the immense California property as "like travelling to a different planet".
While his family planned to go to the Grand Canyon, Robson says he was asked to stay with Jackson -- something his parents didn't necessarily see as a problem.
"The first day at Neverland was Michael making physical contact with me," Robson said in the documentary, describing initially friendly gestures like hand-holding and hugs that he alleged evolved quickly to showering together, kissing, fondling and, ultimately, sexual acts.
During Leaving Neverland, Robson describes in graphic detail what occurred between him and Jackson, claiming he never felt scared or like Jackson was being aggressive.
"It just didn't seem that strange," he said.
Robson alleged that what began as innocent sleepovers soon shifted to regular masturbation.
"And then Michael pulling my pants and my underwear down, pulling them off and going down and starting to perform oral sex on me," he recounted.
The visits went on for years, Robson explained, and was not isolated to the times he was at Neverland. In some cases, he claimed Jackson would sexually abuse him while his mother was sleeping in the room next door.
Safechuck tells of his separate yet similar experiences, saying Jackson "introduced" him to masturbation:
"that's how it started".
Safechuck's relationship with Jackson began when he was 10 years old, and he alleged friendly encounters and innocent sleepovers soon took on a sexual nature.
"I remember one time I was sleeping and I woke up and Michael said that he had performed oral sex on me while I was sleeping," Safechuck alleged.
Jackson, Safechuck claimed, would try to convince him that if he ever told anyone what they were doing the pair of them would be punished.
Jackson would "run drills" where he and Safechuck would rehearse what to do if someone was coming.
“You had to get dressed as fast as possible without making noise,” Safechuck said.
“Not getting caught was a big fundamental. It was very much a secret.”
"He would tell me that if anybody found out, his life would be over and my life would be over. And that’s something he tells you over and over again," he added.
Safechuck also claimed he and Jackson held a mock wedding ceremony which included giving the boy a ring, which he still has. During the documentary, Safechuck revealed several items of jewellery given to him by Jackson.
"He would reward me with jewellery for doing sexual acts for him," he said.
"Something I enjoyed was used against me."
The two-part documentary also details how the boys' relationship with Jackson affected their adult lives, as well as the lives of their families.
No member of Jackson's family or estate are interviewed -- and in January, Jackson's estate published a press release condemning the film.
Calling the documentary a "tabloid character assassination", the release went on to claim the men "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".
The estate is suing HBO for $100 million or more claiming the network has violated a non-disparagement agreement made in 1992 in exchange for the exclusive rights to air Jackson's Bucharest concert of his Dangerous World Tour.
That agreement outlined that HBO would not air "any disparaging remarks concerning Performer or any of his representatives, agents, or business practices or do any act that may harm or disparage or cause to lower in esteem the reputation or public image of Performer."
They claim Leaving Neverland violates that 27-year-old agreement.