- In “Leaving Neverland,” James Safechuck and Wade Robson allege Michael Jackson sexually abused them when they were children.
- Both Safechuck and Robson said Jackson became close with their families to facilitate the alleged abuse.
- They also said in the documentary that Jackson maintained contact with them as they grew older.
- Editor’s note: This post contains descriptions of sexual abuse that may be triggering.
Over the weekend, HBO released “Leaving Neverland,” a two-part, four-hour documentary film covering some of the ongoing allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Jackson.
In the film, two men who worked with Jackson as boys, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, discuss how they developed relationships with the singer that spanned the course of several years. Both Safechuck and Robson also allege that, when they were children, Jackson initiated repeated sexual interactions with them and other boys. Jackson, who died in 2009, denied the allegations when he was alive.
There are many disturbing allegations in “Leaving Neverland.” Here are some that stand out.
Jackson became close with the families of the boys he allegedly abused
According to “Leaving Neverland,” part of the reason Jackson was able to develop intimate relationships with Safechuck and Robson was because he integrated himself into their families.
Safechuck met Jackson on the set of a Pepsi commercial in 1988 when he was 10. Jackson invited Safechuck and his mother, Stephanie, on his international tour. He would also sometimes spend the night at their house in Simi Valley, California, according to Stephanie.
“I came to feel like he was one of my sons by how he behaved. I loved him,” Stephanie said in the documentary.
Because of this, she said it was a “natural thing that happened” when her son and Jackson started sleeping in the same bed during the tour.
Robson and his mother described a similar experience. After winning a dance competition at 5, Robson was given an opportunity to dance with Jackson on stage. A few years later, when Robson was 7, his family reconnected with Jackson during a visit to the United States and stayed with him in his home. Jackson apparently broke down in sobs the day before Robson and his family were supposed to leave, and convinced them to leave Robson with him for a week while his family went to the Grand Canyon, according to Robson.
Later, Robson’s mother, Joy, said Jackson convinced her to leave her husband in Australia and move to the United States to pursue her son’s dance career.
“At the time I didn’t think of any of the long-term ramifications,” she said in the documentary.
Jackson allegedly introduced both boys to sexual activity at a young age
Both men allege in the documentary that they had sexual relationships with Jackson when they were children.
Robson said sexual activity started the first night he stayed alone with Jackson. He says in the documentary that Jackson told him he had kissed and performed oral sex on him when he was sleeping. Safechuck said in the documentary that Jackson taught him how to masturbate when he was on tour with him in Paris.
Both Robson and Safechuck allege that the interactions eventually became routine. They also said Jackson showed them pornography.
“It seemed like he liked it, so I wanted to like it. I just didn’t know how to deal with it. It was like him pulling back the curtain on this whole other universe, but this one wasn’t so fun,” Robson said in the documentary.
Jackson allegedly had Safechuck run drills to get dressed quickly in case they got caught
According to the documentary, Jackson told both boys they had been brought together by God, but no one could know about their relationship. Safechuck said Jackson had him practice putting his clothes back on as fast as possible without making noise in case someone approached when they were together.
Safechuck also said in the documentary that Jackson taught him a secret code to use in public – scratching the other’s palm while holding hands – to let the other know they were thinking of them sexually and told Safechuck that if anyone knew what was going on, they would both be in trouble.
“His life would be over and my life would be over,” Safechuck said.
According to Robson, Jackson often called him “son” and “little one” and told him they would both go to jail if anyone found out what they were doing.
Jackson allegedly held a mock wedding ceremony with Safechuck
Because Safechuck liked jewellery, he said Jackson would take him jewellery shopping. On their trips, Jackson pretended to be buying the items for a woman and using Safechuck’s small hand as a model, according to Safechuck.
Eventually, Safechuck said Jackson held a mock wedding ceremony, complete with a ring that Safechuck still has.
“Something that I enjoyed was used against me and so I think that causes discomfort,” Safechuck said. “It’s still hard for me to not blame myself.”
Robson said he felt Jackson replaced him with Macaulay Culkin
After Robson moved to Los Angeles with his mother and sister, he was surprised to find that Jackson had taken another boy, Macaulay Culkin, under his wing.
“Macaulay was where I was on the previous trips, by Michael’s side at every moment,” he said. “I was on the sideline as far as being Michael’s friend.”
Both Robson and Safechuck also described large group sleepovers at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, where Culkin and other boys were present and Jackson would periodically choose one boy to disappear with him into a private room for an hour or so.
The film says that Culkin and Brett Barnes, who had also been friends with Jackson as a child, “categorically deny any sexual contact” with him.
Robson said Jackson was obsessed with Britney Spears when Robson choreographed her tour
Robson did the choreography for Britney Spears’ “Dream Within A Dream” tour when he was 16. He said Jackson was obsessed with Spears and tried to get Robson to organise a meeting with her. Robson also said in the documentary that Jackson would talk to him about Spears, asking, “Isn’t she sexy? Isn’t she beautiful?”
Safechuck also said Jackson maintained a presence in his life as he grew older (he says their relationship ended in 2003 when Safechuck refused to testify on Jackson’s behalf and Jackson threatened him with lawyers). When Safechuck was a teenager, he said Jackson encouraged him to pull out of advanced classes, telling him that no one who accomplished anything had gone to school, and all he needed to pursue a career as a director was a connection to Jackson.
“He is very much like, making you depend on him,” Safechuck said.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can visit RAINN or call its hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to receive confidential support from a trained staff member.
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