'Leaving Neverland' director responds to Michael Jackson's nephew's argument against accuser
In HBO's two-part documentary Leaving Neverland, Wade Robson and James Safechuck describe how the phenomenally talented pop singer Michael Jackson allegedly sexually abused them as children at the Neverland Ranch. Director Dan Reed described the film as "a detailed, four-hour study of the psychology of child sexual abuse, told through two ordinary families who were groomed for 20 years by a pedophile masquerading as a trusted friend."
The documentary presents no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Jackson, who died in 2009, is guilty of sexual abuse. Yet Robson and Safechuck's detailed testimonies are so compelling, and the pain in their broken families appears so real, and Jackson's relationships with children were so unusual, that viewers find it hard to believe the King Of Pop is innocent.
After all, what 30-something man spends so much time exclusively with cute 7-14-year-old boys, faxing them dozens of love letters, talking to them on the phone for hours, holding hands with them for extended periods of time on camera, and sleeping with them in bed, beyond a locked door, down a hallway with triggered alarms?
Jackson fans say the man was simply robbed of his childhood, an innocent kid trapped in an adult's body - eccentric, but no monster. Jackson critics say he seduced and molested multiple young boys, pointing out that it's common for victims of sexual abuse during childhood to stay silent for years. In the film, Robson and Safechuck say they didn't recognize they were abused until decades later, after fathering young boys of their own.
Following its release, Leaving Neverland sparked a furious backlash against Michael Jackson from those who believe the alleged victims. That public outcry then sparked a furious backlash against the documentary by Michael Jackson supporters, who believe the alleged victims are money-seeking liars.
Those detractors include Jackson's niece, Brandi, who called the film "ridiculous," and Jackson's nephew, Taj, who argued the film twisted facts to suit its narrative. "He dated my cousin for over seven years and it's really interesting because they left that out of the story," said Taj. "And he dated her during the time period that he's getting supposedly molested by my uncle Michael
"I think it's ridiculous especially since my uncle Michael was the one that basically brought them together," the 45-year-old continued. "And so it throws off the whole narrative of Michael Jackson only wanting him [Wade] for himself or teaching him to hate women. It's something they've conveniently left out of the documentary because it coincides with Wade saying [the abuse happened] from the age of seven to 14. But he was dating Brandi from nine to 18."
On Wednesday, British filmmaker Dan Reed appeared on 2Day FM's Grant, Ed & Ash and shut down the argument that Jackson couldn't have molested Robson because his alleged victim was dating his niece, Brandi, at the time.
"The fact that he was seeing - like boyfriend and girlfriend - Brandi at age of 12 or 13 doesn't mean that he wasn't seeing [being abused by] Jackson too," said Reed. "So I don't really follow the logic to be honest. They [Wade and Brandi] weren't living together. That doesn't really make much sense. The intense period of Wade's - [it's] terrible to say it - sexual relationship with Michael Jackson, was from seven to nine."
He continued: 'There isn't any reason to doubt them [Wade and James]. I did a huge amount of digging with quite a big research team - going back to '93 - and we never found anything that cast any doubt on Wade or James's accounts. Of course we were looking really hard for that, because we didn't want to broadcast anything that would make us look really stupid."
Michael Jackson was acquitted of all counts of child sexual abuse in 1993 and 2005. At the first trial, Robson and Safechuck testified under oath as children that Jackson never sexually abused them or behaved inappropriately. At the second trial, Robson testified under oath at age 22 that Jackson never sexually abused him or behaved inappropriately. In Leaving Neverland, both men say they lied in court to protect Jackson and did not understand that what occurred was abuse.