HBO's new documentary Leaving Neverland revealed some devastating new sexual assault allegations against Michael Jackson when it debuted.
Leaving Neverland documents the allegations of child molestation against Jackson over the years. It follows two of his alleged victims, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, as they relay their experiences with the acclaimed singer. The movie premiered on HBO on Sunday, March 3 and again on Monday, March 4.
Although the claims against Jackson have been common knowledge for many years, Leaving Neverland contained some fresh new bombshells for Jackson's fans. The controversial movie revisits Jackson's trial and ultimate acquittal in 2005, and re-examines it through the fresh lens of the Me Too movement.
That has not stopped the outrage inspired by the movie. Jackson's estate sued HBO for agreeing to release the movie, though the network moved forward regardless. In addition, many fans are speaking out against the film on social media.
In either case, Leaving Neverland has provided plenty of new points to discuss in the case against Michael Jackson. Here are some of the biggest points from the documentary.
In the cases of both Safechuck, now 40 and Robson, now 36, they say the abuse by Jackson began very early. Safechuck met Jackson in 1986 when they were cast in a Pepsi commercial together. Soon after, he went on tour together, and he said that it wasn't long when Jackson decided to teach him how to masturbate.
“He set it up like I’m going to show you something that everybody does and you’ll enjoy it,” Safechuck said. “It felt like you were bonding, in a way. The tour was the start of this sexual, like, couple relationship.”
In a similar story, Robson said that he met Jackson at the age of 5 after winning a dancing competition in a shopping mall. The Australian native ran into Jackson again three years later on a family vacation to Los Angeles, and the singer convinced Robson's mother to let him stay overnight with him alone.
Once his family was gone, Robson claims that Jackson kissed him and performed oral sex on him. He also had a strange explanation for their close relationship.
“You and I were brought together by God," he recalled Jackson saying. "We were meant to be together. This is how we show love.”
Safechuck told the filmmmakers that Jackson would often act out their romance in odd rituals, including a "mock wedding ceremony" in the singer's home.
“We were like this married couple. And I say married because we had this mock wedding ceremony. We did this in his bedroom and we filled out some vows,” he said.
Safechuck said that he still has a box full of expensive jewelry from Jackson, which the singer would buy at the store and "pretend like they were for somebody else."
“We would pretend my small hand fit whatever female we were buying it for,” he went on. “I was really into jewelry and he would reward me with jewelry for doing sexual acts for him.”
Safechuck also recalled running "drills" with Jackson so that they could avoid being caught in their illicit acts. He described the psychological impact of these strange protocols had on him as a child.
“He would run drills with me where we’d be in the hotel room and he would pretend like somebody was coming in and you had to get dressed as fast as possible without making noise,” Safechuck remembered. “So not getting caught was a big kind of fundamental [thing]. 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.”
Robson did not mention drills specifically, though he described a similar panic about the secrecy of their relationship. He said that Jackson told him if anyone “ever found out what we were doing about the sexual stuff, that he and I would be pulled apart and we would never be able to see each other again. And that he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives.”
Robson told the filmmakers about the complex mix of emotions he experienced when Jackson became close with actor Macaulay Culkin. He and his family moved from Australia to Los Angeles to take advantage of the opportunities Jackson was offering. When Robson got there he said that Culkin "was where I was, in my previous trips. Right by Michael’s side [at] every moment... and now I was on the sidelines as far as being Michael’s friend and being his favorite.”
“That was really confusing. He and Michael had all of the connection and secret things that Michael and I had before," he went on. "I could recognize that. There was jealousy from me, hurt, confusion.”
Jackson reportedly went so far as to ask Robson's mother if she would leave her son with him for a full year, while the rest of the family returned home to Australia. She spoke in the documentary about the bizarre conversation that finally made her put her foot down.
“Michael said to me, ‘Will you leave [the] little one with me for a year?'” Joy said. “I was stunned. I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ He said, ‘I would do wonders for his career. I could work with him, we could do so much together, it would be wonderful for him to stay here with me.'”
“I said, ‘Michael, he’s my child, he’s 7 years old, I am not going to leave him with you,'" she continued. "We went through this for a couple of hours, where I tried to explain to him that it wasn’t going to happen. And after a while, he looked at me and said, ‘I always get what I want.'”
Three of Jackson's brothers, Tito, Marlon and Jackie, went on CBS This Morning last Wednesday along with his nephew, Taj, to refute the claims in Finding Neverland. The men all said that they had not and would not watch the documentary, but that they denied its validity nonetheless.
“I don’t care to see it,” Jackie, 67, said. “No, because I know my brother. I don’t have to see that documentary. I know Michael. I’m the oldest brother. I know my brother. I know what he stood for. What he was all about. Bringing the world together. Making kids happy. That’s the kind of person he was.”
Taj Jackson, now 45, admitted that he knew Jackson would sometimes "share a bed or have slumber parties with young children," but said that it "wasn't odd" to those in his orbit.
“I grew up in it, so for me it wasn’t odd,” he said. “You know, I think, to the outside world, yes, I think it can be odd. I mean, I’m not oblivious to what it sounds like. But when you’re actually there in that atmosphere and you’re around it, and you’re watching movies, whether, with his kids, whether it’s Little Rascals or Three Stooges, and you’re watching these things, it’s like, it’s very innocent.”