“He told me if they ever found out what we were doing, he and I would go to jail,” says Wade Robson, one of the accusers of Michael Jackson, in the trailer of Leaving Neverland.
The video clip of HBO’s documentary on the late singer was unveiled on Tuesday, nearly a month after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The documentary revolves around two men, Robson and James Safechuck, alleging that Jackson sexually abused them when they were young boys.
In the two-part documentary, the duo open up about their experiences with the pop icon all those years ago, whom they befriended when they were 10 and 7, respectively.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robson and Safechuck graphically detail allegations of sexual abuse by Jackson. Still, the Dan Reed-directed documentary points out that both men have said under oath during Jackson’s first sexual abuse trial that the musician did not do anything inappropriate with them.
Jackson’s estate sent a 10-page letter to HBO CEO Richard Plepler February 7, criticising HBO for “an admittedly one-sided, sensationalist program.” The estate also claimed the documentary gave Safechuck and Robson credibility despite their past testimony.
“This so called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations,” Jackson’s estate said. “This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.”
As one of the most talked-about recent films, Leaving Neverland details in-depth some of the more disturbing aspects of Jackson’s life. It is scheduled to release in March.
In the below video, we get a hint of how a “fairy tale” invitation to Neverland Ranch became a nightmare. Viewers can see a glimpse of how the appeal of going to a theme park with world’s most popular singer could mask inappropriate behavior by him, and perhaps something more sinister.
The controversy over Jackson’s relationship with children, particularly young boys, has marred his legacy for years, even now – nearly 10 years after his death. He first was publicly accused of child molestation by a family he invited to the Neverland Ranch in 1993.
While no charges were ultimately filed and Jackson settled outside of court for $22 million, he was charged again in 2003, leading to a very public trial which resulted in seven acquittals of child molestation in 2005.
There have been many stories that have long been pushed to the margins about the man who introduced the world to Thriller, Billie Jean, and a variety of other beloved pop songs and pop culture iconography.
Yet, at four hours, Leaving Neverland has been alleged by those who have seen it to be an eye-opening and emotionally devastating experience.
The director of the documentary said he had no question about the validity of the stories of the two men. “If there’s anything we’ve learned during this time in our history, it’s that sexual abuse is complicated and survivors’ voices need to be listened to,” he said in a statement.
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