'Leaving Neverland' director makes 'embarrassing' u-turn on James Safechuck claim
Following months of controversy surrounding the 'Leaving Neverland' documentary, the film's director, Dan Reed, has added more fuel to the fire by back-pedalling on certain details given in the two-part show.
It all started over the weekend, when Mike Smallcombe, a journalist and biographer, claimed that parts of James Safechuck's accounts of his alleged abuse did not add up. According to his research, Safechuck's accounts of being molested in an upstairs room of a train station on Michael Jackson's Neverland estate could not have been true, as the station was not built until two years after the abuse allegedly stopped.
"So abuse in the train station wasn’t possible if the abuse stopped in 1992, as he claims in his testimony, as it didn't even exist then," Smallcombe said. "There's a two year difference."
It is true that, during the documentary, Safechuck says that he was assaulted in the room, which he identifies by making reference to a striking floral clock. However, it is also true that this does not add up with his claims that Jackson ceased to molest him in 1992, when he was 14 years old, as the station room was not even approved for construction until 1993.
Reed responded on Twitter, saying that some of the details about what happened are "wrong".
"Yeah there seems to be no doubt about the station date. The date they have wrong is the end of the abuse."
However, the director is still maintaining that the incident happened - he is just now insisting that the abuse went on for years longer than Safechuck originally claimed.
Understandably, many critics have taken issue with this.
"Because the story has been debunked, it appears Reed is now suddenly wanting to change Safechuck’s timeline himself," Smallcombe told the Daily Mirror.
"Firstly, I’m shocked that he's spoken on Safechuck’s behalf. And secondly, it’s embarrassing that he feels he has to now change the narrative of the film – which is that the alleged abuse stopped in 1992 – all because part of it has been disproved.
"That’s what happens when you take allegations like that at face value, and make no attempts to scrutinise and investigate whether they are true."
He continued:"By acknowledging the build date, Reed is essentially confirming that Safechuck’s claim of being abused in Neverland’s train station between 1988 and 1992 is impossible. To seemingly now claim on Safechuck’s behalf that the abuse went on as Safechuck approached adulthood, all to preserve the timeline of his film, is astonishing."
Smallcombe has also dug up various other discrepancies in the four-hour documentary, both with Safechuck and Wade Robson's testimonies. Some of these could be written off as an innocent incident of misremembering fine details (after all, many of the incidents in question happened around 30 years ago), but others are convinced that something more malicious is going on.
However, in this instance, at least, there is evidence to prove that the claims as they were given in the documentary were not entirely accurate.