Dan Reed’s “Leaving Neverland” documentary on Michael Jackson examines, in great detail, allegations of sexual abuse against Jackson throughout the last few decades and highlights the stories of his accusers, including several of Jackson’s alleged victims. On March 3, HBO will begin airing the two-part, four-hour documentary.
Check out the synopsis of the documentary below:
Leaving Neverland is a two-part documentary exploring the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys, James Safechuck, at age 10, and Wade Robson, at age 7, both of whom were befriended by Michael Jackson.
Through gut-wrenching interviews with Safechuck, now 40, and Robson, now 36, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings, the film crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, exploring the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after both had a young son of his own.
Reed’s film centers on extensive interviews with Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who became friends with Jackson when they were young children, and who claim that the late pop star molested them for several years. “I’m kind of astonished this film hasn’t been made before,” Reed told Vulture after the documentary debuted at January’s Sundance Film Festival. “I think what we’ve done is extraordinary and unique, and it’s never been done before.”
In mid-1993, Jackson was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old boy named Jordan “Jordy” Chandler – the first in what would become a long line of accusations against Jackson, including molesting several young boys. Here’s what we know about Jackson’s accusers, and what they say happened during their time with Jackson:
Jordan “Jordy” Chandler
GQ Magazine 1994 – Was MJ F… by on Scribd
Chandler and his family met Jackson in 1992, shortly before Jackson invited Chandler and his family to spend the night at his Neverland Ranch. The following year, it was reported that Jackson had shared a bed with Chandler while on vacation with the family, and shortly after, Chandler’s father Evan Chandler started to become suspicious about his son’s close relationship with Jackson. After Evan Chandler brought his son to see a psychiatrist, Jordan Chandler revealed that he had been sexually abused by Jackson over the last few years, describing interactions involving masturbation and oral sex. The psychiatrist then contacted the Los Angeles Police Department, setting off an investigation. Jackson denied the allegations and his legal team claimed Chandler was trying to extort the musician for $20 million.
According to Vulture, in September, 1993, Jordan Chandler’s parents filed a civil lawsuit alleging that the singer “repeatedly committed sexual battery” on their son. Per the L.A. Times, the suit claims that Jackson “masturbated Chandler and performed oral sex with him,” among other acts. Jackson’s team maintained that the allegations were part of an extortion plot, but the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office declined to bring extortion charges against Evan Chandler, citing lack of evidence.
Jackson eventually settled the Chandlers’ civil lawsuit in court, shelling out more than $20 million to the boy’s family and attorney. The following year, the Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties district attorney’s decide not to press criminal charges against Jackson, as Jordan Chandler refused to testify.
In August, 2000, Jackson met and formed a relationship with 10-year-old Gavin Arvizo, who had cancer. Three years later, British journalist Martin Bashir conducted a series of interviews with Jackson, which he edited into a documentary, “Living With Michael Jackson.” The documentary highlighted Jackson’s continued relationship with children, despite the previous sexual assault allegations against him involving Chandler.
The documentary reignited intense skepticism about Jackson’s relationships with children, specifically revolving around Jackson’s relationship with Arvizo, and the police once again raided Neverland Ranch. The following day, police revealed that they had issued an arrest warrant for Jackson, on multiple counts of child molestation. Jackson was arrested, released on bond, and charged with multiple accounts of “lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14,” according to the New York Times. No information about the alleged victim was released, although the New York Times reported that the allegations involved a “young cancer patient who previously stayed at Neverland Ranch.” In December, 2003, Jackson was formally charged with “seven counts of child molesting, and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent for the purpose of committing a felony,” according to Vulture.
During the trial, Arvizo testified against Jackson, claiming that Jackson masturbated him and served him alcohol that the singer called “Jesus Juice.” Arvizo’s sister, brother and mother also testifed, claiming they had witnessed Jackson inappropriately touching Arvizo while masturbating, and had witnessed Jackson “licking Arvizo’s head.”
Jackson was eventually acquitted of all charges due to lack of convincing evidence. “We expected better evidence, something that was a little more convincing,” one juror said at a news conference following the announcement. “It just wasn’t there.”
Another of Jackson’s alleged victims, Robson initially refused to testify and defended the singer against the allegations against him during the Chandler trial. According to E News, during a press conference in the early 90s, Robson insisted that Jackson never tried anything sexual with them. “Sure, I slept with him on dozens of occasions,” Robson said. “But the bed we shared was huge. He sleeps on one side, I sleep on the other.”
According to Vulture, Blanca Francia, Jackson’s ex-maid who made allegations against him in the ’90s during the Chandler trial, took the stand during Jackson’s 2003 trial as well, and claimed to have witnessed Jackson showering with Robson when he was 10-years-old. Robson, then 22, also took the stand, but disputed Francia’s account of showering with Jackson, Vulture reports.
However, in 2013, four years after Jackson’s death, Robson sued the Jackson estate, saying Jackson did, in fact, molest him several times when he was a child. Robson had known Jackson since he was 5-years-old, and between the ages of 7 and 14, Jackson sexually abused him, despite previously denying it twice before.
“This is not a case of repressed memory,” Robson, a choreographer in the entertainment industry, said in a 2013 appearance on the Today show. “I have never forgotten one moment of what Michael did to me, but I was psychologically and emotionally completely unable and unwilling to understand that it was sexual abuse.” Robson explained that his perspective changed after he became a father, and that intense therapy helped him realize that what Jackson was doing was actually abuse. “Michael was, yes, an incredibly talented artist with an incredible gift,” Robson said on Today. “And he was also a pedophile and a child sexual abuser.”
In May, 2015, a Los Angeles judge ruled that Robson didn’t take legal action against Jackson soon enough, and dismissed his lawsuit against the Jackson estate, although Robson later appealed the decision.
In 2014, James Safechuck also filed a lawsuit against the Jackson estate, claiming that therapy had helped him realize that Jackson was sexually abusing him, despite maintaining for many years that Jackson had never assaulted him.
The Daily Beast broke the story, and though the complaint is sealed, the Daily Beast cited “two sources close to the case” who identified the man behind the filing as James Safechuck. The sources for the Daily Beast’s story said that Safechuck’s complaint alleges that the sexual abuse started when the boy was 10, and continued for several years.
Last month, the L.A. Times published a piece that reexamined Safechuck and Robson’s allegations against Jackson. The publication points out that, in his 2014 complaint, Safechuck claimed that the first instance of abuse occurred in a Paris hotel, where the singer allegedly showed him how to masturbate. Safechuck also claims that, between 1988 and 1992, he and Jackson participated in “hundreds” of sex acts together, according to Vulture.
Robson and Safechuck are both featured extensively in the documentary “Leaving Neverland.”
Brett Barnes, Jason Francia & Macaulay Culkin
Several other men have also been connected to the sexual assault allegations against Jackson, including Brett Barnes, Macaulay Culkin and Jason Francia. However, they haven’t all accused Jackson of sexual misconduct.
Jason Francia, the son of Jackson’s ex-maid Blanca Francia, also served as a witness during Jackson’s 2003 trial, and testified that Jackson molested him on three occasions, between the ages of 7 and 10. He also claims Jackson gave him $100 bills to keep him quiet, and notes that Blanca Francia and Jason received about “$2 million from Jackson for agreeing not to sue,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Brett Barnes and Macaulay Culkin have both denied ever being molested by Jackson, according to Vulture. Barnes had come to Jackson’s defense in the early 90s, alongside Robson, and Culkin has reportedly called the allegations “absolutely ridiculous.”
The HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” is set to air tonight at 8/7c on HBO and HBO Now.
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