Posted By Audrey J. Bernard
As a global icon, Michael Jackson made history and headlines throughout his life, and he is making history and headlinesonce again — this time as perhaps the only person to be placed on trial after death. He is not being tried in a court of law, of course, but he is being judged in a court whose repercussions can be just as lasting, if unchecked or unchallenged: The court of public opinion.
However, in the case of Michael Jackson and “Leaving Neverland,” judgment about the King of Pop is being made based on one-sided tales by two men with a track record of inconsistent stories and whose recounting of incidents and information was never fact-checked by the film director’s own admission. Now that the film has aired, the facts and truths about the two accusers are coming to light.
Just as HBO recently decided to pull “Leaving Neverland,” from its programming lineup due to multiple discrepancies in the two accusers’ statements in the documentary, it is time to now share some critical facts that many people may not know.
First, let’s consider some important questions that should concern us all.
When does a person’s right to protect his or her good name and legacy end? Does it end when they die and can no longer defend themselves against allegations? In that case, doesn’t an individual like Michael Jacksonstill have the right for people to judge him or her on the facts and not on a series of one-sided tales when that person cannot stand up and say, “The allegations against me are categorically false! Here are the facts!”Is it fair or just that someone can attempt to rewrite history or tarnish a deceased person’s legacy with uncorroborated statements dressed up as truths?
These are critically important questions that every person around the worldshould be asking in the wake of the controversial HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” and here is why.
Some Undeniable Facts
First, an event unprecedented in the documentary film world occurred during the week of April 8, 2019, when the film’s director, Dan Reed, admitted that there are several discrepancies in the accusers’ story. James Safechuck, one of two accusers in the documentary claims that he was assaulted in an upstairs room at the Neverland Ranch train station from 1988 to 1992 but construction on Neverland’s train station did not start until late 1993 when the ranch received permits. The station was not even partially opened until 1994, which can be verified through state of California public records.
Second, and equally disturbing, is that Mr. Reed admits that he did not fact check the stories that Safechuck and Wade Robson tell in the film, despite the fact that he devotes four hours to their tales and took more than two years to do the film.
Mr. Reed uses selective editing and false claims in an attempt to discredit Mr. Jackson’s 2005 acquittal on child molestation charges.
“Leaving Neverland” presents a series of uncorroborated tales and allegations against Michael Jackson by two accusers who are in the midst of appealing a lawsuit for millions of dollars against the late pop star’s estate. They did not mention this in the film, but it is an indisputable fact that both men have a financial stake in participating in the film, particularly if it influences their appeals.
Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck had their lawsuits dismissed by the court twice for numerous provable inconsistencies in their sworn statements regarding alleged abuse by Mr. Jackson. The judge wrote in his judgment that “no rational fact-finder could possibly believe Robson’s statements.”
Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck swore under oath that Mr. Jackson never abused them or harmed them in any way. For more than two decades, publically and privately, both accusers denied that Mr. Jackson abused them.
Mr. Robson testified to this as an adult and under oath at Mr. Jackson’s 2005 trial — a trial at which Mr. Jackson was found innocent of all charges by a jury of his peers in a court of law. He was Mr. Jackson’s first witness.
Of significant note is that during the 2005 trial, it was disclosed that Mr. Jackson had been investigated for child molestation by the FBI and other California law enforcement agencies for 10 years, costing millions of dollars, and they found no evidence that he had abused any children.
Another case in point is that Mr. Robson completely changes one of the critical moments of his narrative in the documentary from what he had said in his court papers as well as in a deposition taken just two months before he was filmed in “Leaving Neverland.” In in 2012, as he was attempting to write a book, he recalled so little about his interactions with Mr. Jackson that his mother had to fill in the blanks; her input did not include any references to the alleged abuse. However, in the film, unaided, Mr. Robson appears to have vivid recollections of specific events and alleged sex acts.
Numerous relevant facts are omitted from the documentary that would help viewers better decide the credibility of the accusers, including:
Michael Jackson was subjected to a lengthy and extensive investigation by law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation provided support to those investigations. The FBI website states, “Between 1993 and 1994, and separately between 2004 and 2005, Mr. Jackson was investigated by California law enforcement agencies for possible child molestation. He was acquitted of all such charges.”
- Mr. Jackson’s home and offices were raided unannounced multiple times and his medical records confiscated, which resulted in no evidence of the allegations.
- Mr. Robson met with Michael Jackson Estate lawyers in 2011to ask for a producer’s role in the Cirque du Soleil Oneproduction, based on Mr. Jackson’s music. Mr. Robson sued after he was denied the position. Also, he stated that he had no knowledge of the Michael Jackson Estate before March 4, 2013, even though he met with an Estate lawyer in 2011.
- Mr. Safechuck falsely claims he was pressured to testify at the 2005 trial but had already been eliminated as a witness by the judge who limited witnesses to Mr. Robson, Brett Barnes and Macauley Culkin. In the film, he states that he decided not to testify.
- Mr. Reed claims that Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck had not met until the Sundance Film Festival in January 2019 for legal reasons. However, in Mr. Robson’s deposition in 2016, he specifies that he had met Mr. Safechuck in 2014 while they were pursuing the cases against the Michael Jackson Estate.
- Mr. Robson is shown burning Michael Jackson memorabilia as the credits roll but Mr. Reed neglects to mention that Mr. Robson, as the press reported, auctioned his most valuable items in 2011 to satisfy a cash flow shortage.
These are but a few of the many facts surrounding the tales presented as unchallenged truths in “Leaving Neverland,” most of which have not been widely or even limitedly released to the public but the public has a right to this information and a right to not have their freedom to decide what to believe circumvented by uncorroborated stories.
Finally, we began with a few questions and we will conclude with two more that we should all ponder: Is it wrong to question why these facts were intentionally omitted from “Leaving Neverland,” and perhaps most of all, is it fair or just for a deceased human being, whose voice has been forever silenced, to have his or herlegacy tarnished, diminished or even erased?
Michael Jackson’s music has been the soundtrack of our lives for 50 years. His untarnished legacy and his music belong to the world, and we should all want to preserve and protect these irreplaceable gifts.
Let your voice be heard at:
The Michael Jackson Estate