What we learned from part II of ‘Leaving Neverland’
The second and final part of HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” aired Monday night.
The documentary examines disturbing claims by James Safechuck and Wade Robson that Jackson sexually abused them over a period of several years when they were children.
Jackson’s family has denied the allegations and condemned the documentary, calling it a “public lynching” and Jackson’s accusers “admitted liars,” in reference to sworn statements made by both Safechuck and Robson while Jackson was alive that he did not molest them.
The family also said in their statement that “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.”
In 2003, Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation for allegations from a cancer-stricken boy invited to the star’s home. The boy said he was 13 when Jackson served him alcohol and fondled him.
Jackson was acquitted of the charges.
He maintained his innocence until his death in 2009.
None of Jackson’s family members or supporters were interviewed for the documentary.
Here’s some of what was presented in part two:
Prepared for testimony
In 1993, a 13-year-old accused Jackson of sexually molesting him repeatedly over a five-month period.
The boy said that Jackson bathed with him, shared a bed with him, gave him gifts and fondled him.
It was reported in 2004 that Jackson paid approximately $25 million to settle a civil suit with that alleged victim.
Safechuck alleged that Jackson’s attorney’s prepped him to defend Jackson to authorities.
“They did, like, a mock interview, kind of role playing the policeman or lawyer,” Safechuck said.
Robson said hearing from police brought to mind what he says Jackson told him as a child.
“If anyone ever found out that we were doing any of these sorts of things, these sexual things, that he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives,” Robson alleged. “It was terrifying.”
Both Safechuck and Robson spoke in support of Jackson to investigators looking into the 1993 allegations.
Robson and Safechuck’s mothers are featured in the documentary, along with other family members.
The women said they believed Jackson when he said he was innocent of the 13-year-old’s allegations.
Stephanie Safechuck said Jackson told her the boy’s father was out for money.
“I asked if he was angry with the boy, he said no, I’m not angry with him, and I thought what a good man,” she said. “What a good man Michael is, he’s not even mad at the child.”
Robson’s mother, Joy, said it was both Jackson’s claims of innocence and her son’s insistence to her that the star had never molested him that convinced her of Jackson’s innocence.
News that Jackson had settle out of court further cemented that belief, she said.
“That to me proves that all it was about all along was money,” Joy Robson said. “How much money would make it OK for your child to be abused? Ten million? Twenty million? No amount of money would make that OK. If I thought that he had touched my son, I would not stop until he was behind bars.”
Stephanie Safechuck also said that after her son spoke out on behalf of Jackson, the singer forgave a low-interest loan he had made to her family for their home.
The superstar wed Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley, in 1994.
Safechuck said Jackson told him such a marriage could happen.
“I remember Michael saying to me that he’s gonna have to have these public relationships with women so that people don’t think anything,” Safechuck said. “He would always say that he would have to get married at some point, but it wouldn’t mean anything.”
That marriage ended and in 1996, Jackson married Debbie Rowe with whom he had two children.
Why Safechuck and Robson are speaking out now
Both men said Jackson’s presence in their lives lessened as they grew older, adding that they heard from Jackson when he wanted them to testify on his behalf regarding the 2003 charges.
Safechuck refused to, while Robson did.
The pair also spoke of emotional issues and breakdowns as they grew older, even as their families talked about the toll it took on them (Robson’s father was diagnosed with mental illness and died by suicide.)
In declining to testify during Jackson’s 2005 trial, Safechuck’s mother said he told her Jackson wasn’t a good person, but begged her not to tell anyone.
Robson went into therapy, he said, but wasn’t honest with his therapist.
“I found a therapist trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me,” he said. “I went through the story of my life, and I went through the story of my life with Michael, but just the good parts, just the creative inspiration, the work, the friends, all that stuff.
Both men had also married and became fathers to sons.
Safechuck said, “I think the abuse symptoms intensify when you have kids, like it ramps up even more. And then you see how innocent kids are.”
“I think having kids kind of shoves that in your face,” he added. “He’s getting closer to the age I was when I was abused, so that is difficult to deal with it and see, watch him kind of become you at that age.”
Robson also said his son’s presence helped push him to come forward with the allegations as he began to picture his child being abused by Jackson in the same way he said Jackson abused him.
He also said he felt the need to make up for not being honest before.
“I want to be able to speak the truth as loud as I had to speak the lie for so long,” Robson said.