Leaving Neverland: The most shocking claims made against Michael Jackson
The documentary airs this week
Leaving Neverland is a two part, four hour documentary based on the claims of Wade Robson and James Safechuck. Both men say that as boys, they stayed with Michael Jackson at his Neverland ranch and were abused by the then King of Pop. The doc starts with a disclaimer, about graphic descriptions of sexual acts involving underage participants.
Over the four hours, there are interviews with two men and their families, where they share detailed, graphic allegations of sexual abuse. Both spent considerable time with Jackson as boys – Safechuck was around nine when he appeared alongside Jackson in a 1987 Pepsi advert, and then the singer befriended him and his family, inviting them to his Neverland ranch in California and taking him on tour. Robson met Jackson as a five-year-old in Brisbane, Australia in 1987, after winning a dance contest during the Bad tour. The prize was to meet his idol. The next night, Jackson brought Robson out on stage to dance with him. He became part of Jackson's life two years later, and Robson says Jackson abused him for the next seven years.
The film creator, Dan Reed, says he has received abuse from MJ fans, and the Jackson estate has also launched a $100 million (£76m) lawsuit against HBO, which aired the first part of the documentary in America.
These are the most shocking allegations made against Michael Jackson in the Leaving Neverland documentary:
Warning: This article contains details of sexual assault, and claims made against Michael Jackson and his treatment of children. These may be found upsetting and disturbing.
In Leaving Neverland, it's said Michael Jackson allegedly sexually abused and raped young boys
Leaving Neverland airs disturbing details of how Michael Jackson allegedly abused and raped multiple young boys at his Neverland ranch in California. In an interview with The Telegraph, Dan Reed, the creator of the film said: "The lie that Jackson perpetrated while he was alive that he was a great defender and supporter of children – and the ferocity with which his business associates and his family have defended him – mean that his fall will be that much harder.
"People will have to listen to his music in the knowledge that he was a prolific child rapist. If they’re comfortable doing that, fine. If they’re not, well perhaps listen to something else for a while."
Michael Jackson was abusing children at Neverland night after night
Dan Reed says Michael Jackson had built up the idea Neverland was a playground for children, when in reality it was "a playground for him as a rampant predatory paedophile." He says it was an image of slumber parties for children when actually Jackson was "raping those children night after night after night in the next room to their mothers."
There were many places in Neverland where Jackson would have sex with children
Safechuck says the property had several spaces where boys were taken. This included the house on the property, and a bedroom above the theme park's train stations. The hallway leading to the singer's bedroom also had a series of bells that would ring if someone was coming.
He even allegedly 'married' one of the victims
An hour and a half into the first episode of Leaving Neverland, it is revealed that Jackson bought Safechuck a wedding ring, because he loved jewellery. In the doc, a visibly upset Safechuck shows the camera the ring and other pieces he claims Jackson gave him as rewards for sex.
Dan Reed said: "Jackson abused these boys not just physically but psychologically and emotionally. If you don’t understand that they were in love with Michael, you can’t understand anything they do: why would you not tell your mom? Why would you defend him in court? Society doesn’t want to acknowledge that this can happen [but] it’s the rotten love of the paedophile and the pure love of the child."
Michael Jackson groomed the families of the alleged victims too
According to the Hollywood Reporter, both Joy Robson, Wade's mother, and Stephanie Safechuck, James' mom, say Jackson felt like another son to them. The documentary implies the overwhelming nature of Jackson's fame helped convince the families that Wade and James would be safe in his company.
The patterns of abuse were similar for every single child
In the Leaving Neverland documentary it becomes clear that Jackson allegedly had the same patterns for how he would abuse children. He is said to have always targeted boys from troubled families, groomed them, given gifts to them and their families, seduced them, taken them to Jacuzzis, performed sex in the same way, and made the victims fear what would happen to them if they ever told anyone what happened.
Both men in Leaving Neverland describe a gradual escalation from touching to more involved acts. They allege that Jackson preferred to have them kneel on hands and knees at one corner of his bed while he masturbated from the opposite corner while looking at them. Both allege he had them perform oral sex on him, and did the same to them.
Their dismissals followed a similar pattern, too – as puberty approached, Robson and Safechuck say in the documentary, they were abruptly replaced with a different, younger child.
Jackson allegedly brainwashed the children into not trusting anyone else
During the Leaving Neverland documentary, both men discuss how Jackson had left them with an us-versus-them mentality, and made them not trust anyone. Jackson allegedly said nobody else would understand the "love" shared with him and the boys. Jackson also allegedly told the boys they too would go to jail if anyone found out about what was happening, and they regularly practiced drills of what to do if someone walked in on them.
Jackson asked both boys in Leaving Neverland to support him in court cases
The second episode of Leaving Neverland, on Channel 4 on Thursday, focuses more on the court cases against Jackson. In these cases, both boys say Jackson hadn't done anything wrong. When Jackson was accused of abusing boys in 1993 and 2003, he repeatedly called both and pressed them to testify on his behalf. At the time, it is said the boys were manipulated by Jackson, and not emotionally or psychologically ready to accept, or discuss what had been going on.
It took both boys years to understand they had been abused
In Leaving Neverland, Robson says: "I loved him and he loved me, and [sex] was something that happened between us." Safechuck told his mum about the abuse in 2003, but Robson took longer to see the truth. Robson sued Jackson's estate in 2013, but the case was dismissed.
Watch the trailer for Leaving Neverland here:
The Leaving Neverland film is so explicit, when it was aired at Sundance Festival there was on hand support for viewers. The doc explicitly describes the alleged abuse suffered by Wade Robson and James Safechuck, at the hands of Michael Jackson. Rolling Stone say after the viewing of the doc at the festival, the audience were shellshocked. The documentary about Michael Jackson and the boys' stories, Leaving Neverland, airs on Channel 4 at 9pm on Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th.