King of Pop’s personal life investigated in docuseries

By Peter Zemeske

“Leaving Neverland” is an upcoming two-part documentary from HBO featuring two men, choreographer Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claim to have been sexually abused by the late pop legend Michael Jackson when they were younger. The series will air March 3 and 4.

The four hour documentary has been under fire from fans of Jackson and his estate since its screening at the Sundance Film Festival Jan. 25 in Park City, Utah. Critics of the unreleased series include Jackson’s family who are questioning the validity of the men’s claims. The Jackson estate is suing HBO for $100 million for a breach in a non-disparagement clause in a contract HBO made with Jackson in 1992, according to a Feb. 22 People article.

Jackson’s estate issued a statement Jan. 10 refuting the claims of Jackson’s guilt. “This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson,” the statement read.

Jackson has long been accused of engaging in molestation of young boys, but was never found guilty of any criminal charge brought against him. A 1993 trial for Jackson’s alleged assault of Jordan Chandler, then 13 years old, was dropped after a settlement of $20 million to the Chandler family.

Similar accusations were brought up again in 2003 when Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent for the purpose of committing a felony, according to a Feb. 21 Vanity Fair article. Both Robson and Safechuck testified in Jackson’s defense under oath that neither of them were abused by Jackson.

Robson never claimed any sort of abuse from Jackson until May 2012, three years after The King of Pop’s death. He even went as far as filing a civil lawsuit/creditor’s claim for $1.5 billion in May 2013 against Jackson’s estate claiming childhood sexual abuse. The lawsuit was dismissed by a probate court in 2017, according to a Jan. 29 Forbes article.

HBO will continue to air “Leaving Neverland” as planned despite the lawsuit from Jackson’s estate on their hands as well as no evidence other than personal testimonies from the two men.