Oprah Winfrey interviewed two men featured in a documentary who claim Jackson sexually abused them when they were kids.
Almost a decade after the death of Michael Jackson, allegations of sexual abuse still remain.
Jackson settled one case against him, in 1994, where no charges were filed, then was acquitted of a second in 2005. But a new documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” brings his past front and center to face the modern-day #MeToo movement.
In the documentary, Wade Robson and James Safechuck claim Jackson molested them when they were kids. Oprah Winfrey gave the men a platform to further tell their stories; meanwhile, the Jackson estate condemns the allegations calling it a “public lynching.”
But Oprah, a survivor of sexual abuse, said the discussion is greater than the Jackson allegations.
“I know people all over the world are going to be in an uproar and debating whether or not Michael Jackson did these things and whether these two men are lying or not lying,” she said during her interview with the men, called “After Neverland,” which aired Monday night on HBO. It was filmed in front of an audience of over 100 survivors of sexual abuse.
Oprah continued, “But for me, this moment transcends Michael Jackson.”
“It is much bigger than any one person. This is a moment in time that allows us to see this societal corruption. It’s like a scourge on humanity. . . . If it gets you, our audience, to see how it happens, then some good would have come of it.”
Robson alleges the sexual abuse began age 7 and Safechuck, 10, when they were in Jackson’s inner circle. They claim the singer performed sex acts with and in front of them in various locations in his home, the Neverland complex. Safechuck even said Jackson “married” him in a mock wedding ceremony.
“Don’t let anybody in your world make it about what Michael Jackson did or [did] not do,” Oprah said. “It’s about this thing, this insidious pattern that’s happening in our culture that we refuse to look at.”
She added, “I hope we can get past Michael Jackson, the icon. Stop staring into the sun and do what is necessary to heal our children and heal ourselves.”
The Jackson family, in a statement, referred to the documentary as “a public lynching”:
“Michael always turned the other cheek, and we have always turned the other cheek when people have gone after members of our family – that is the Jackson way. But, we can’t just stand by while this public lynching goes on … Michael is not here to defend himself, otherwise these allegations would not have been made.”
— HBO Documentaries (@HBODocs) March 4, 2019
Jermaine Jackson criticized Oprah and the media in a tweet posted on Monday:
So many in media, inc @Oprah, blindly taking #LeavingNeverland at face value, shaping a narrative uninterested in facts, proof, credibility. We faced similar “graphic” claims + trial-by-media in ’05. Jury saw through it all. Trial-by-law proved Michael’s innocence long ago. Fact.
— Jermaine Jackson (@jermjackson5) March 4, 2019
Dan Reed, the film’s director, said that he doesn’t doubt Robson and Safechuck’s validity. But Jackson super-fans are coming out against the film and Oprah.
Director Ava DuVernay even received flack for sharing an article on Jackson.
Michael Jackson super fans are really going hard in my comments for simply sharing an article by a cultural critic who shared his opinion on the doc. This is one of the kindler, gentler comments. I mean, Annie, are you okay? ‘Cause this is a lot. ? https://t.co/GWQIIPiyKa
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 4, 2019
“Leaving Neverland” comes out during a time when there’s a reckoning for celebrities who’ve been accused multiple times of sexual abuse, such as R. Kelly.
Dream Hampton’s recent Lifetime series, “Surviving R. Kelly,” first aired in January. Kelly was charged in February with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four women, three of whom were minors at the time.