Michael Jackson: Child Abuse Documentary Amounts to “Public Lynching,” Family Claims
Earlier this month, millions of viewers were stunned by the docuseries Surviving R. Kelly — which focused on the decades of sexual assault allegations against the singer.
Now, it seems Michael Jackson is receiving the same treatment, via a four-hour documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival Friday night.
The film, Leaving Neverland, focuses on the stories of two of Jackson’s accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
As the film has yet to secure a distributor and a wide release, it has thus only been seen by a select group of festival attendees.
But if they’re reactions are any indication, Leaving Neverland may contain another scathing new information for the King of Pop to be forever stripped of his crown.
“It only takes about two minutes into the four-hour documentary Leaving Neverland to realize that Michael Jackson’s legacy is never going to be the same again,” wrote Benjamin Lee in his review for The Guardian.
“spoiler alert: Michael Jackson 100% sexually abused a lot of children,” tweeted IndieWire’s David Ehrlich.
Shortly after the film’s release, Jackson’s estate released a strongly-worded statement that was published in full on Rolling Stone’s website:
According to Jackson’s reps, the film constitutes “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death.”
The statement continues:
“The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact.”
Now, Jackson’s family is also hitting back with a statement that questions both the integrity and the intentions of the filmmakers.
“The truth is on our side,” writes the family.
“Go do your research about these opportunists. The facts don’t lie, people do.”
The statement continues:
“We are furious that the media, who without a shred of proof or single piece of physical evidence, chose to believe the word of two admitted liars over the word of hundreds of families and friends around the world who spent time with Michael, many at Neverland, and experienced his legendary kindness and global generosity.
“We are proud of what Michael Jackson stands for.
“People have always loved to go after Michael.
“He was an easy target because he was unique. But Michael was subjected to a thorough investigation which included a surprise raid of Neverland and other properties as well as a jury trial where Michael was found to be COMPLETELY INNOCENT.
“Michael Jackson was and always will be 100% innocent of these false allegations.”
The Jackson family’s statement can be read in its entirety here.
Sexual assault allegations followed Jackson throughout his career, but none of the many accusers were able to help secure a conviction.
The Jacksons have decried the film as a “public lynching” of a man who is no longer here to defend himself, while others feel that Leaving Neverland might finally provide a modicum of justice and peace of mind to the singer’s victims.
Many are concerned about the effect the film might have on Jackson’s children, particularly his troubled daughter Paris, who reportedly refuses to watch the documentary.
We’ll have further updates on this developing story as more information becomes available.