Michael Jackson’s family say documentary is a ‘public lynching’

Family are ‘furious’ over media coverage of Leaving Neverland documentary

 Michael Jackson at his trial in  Santa Barbara, California, in 2005. Photograph: Kevork DjanseziaN/AFP/Getty Images

Michael Jackson at his trial in Santa Barbara, California, in 2005. Photograph: Kevork DjanseziaN/AFP/Getty Images

 

Michael Jackson’s family are “furious” that two men who accuse the pop star of sexually abusing them as boys have received fresh attention because of a new documentary.

The family said said in statement that the singer, who died in 2009 aged 50, was the subject of a “public lynching”.

The statement denounced the documentary, Leaving Neverland, which details allegations by the two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck. Leaving Neverland was shown at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday and is expected set to air on Channel 4 and HBO in the US later this spring.

“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,” the statement said.

“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.”

The family pointed out that Jackson was subjected to an investigation which included a raid of his home, the Neverland Ranch, but was acquitted at his criminal trial in 2005, in a case involving another young man.

Mr Robson testified at that trial, saying he had slept in Jackson’s room many times, but that Jackson had never molested him. Mr Safechuck made similar statements to investigators as a boy.

Wade Robson, Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed and James Safechuck. Photograph: Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP
Wade Robson, Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed and James Safechuck. Photograph: Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP

Both men filed lawsuits in 2013 saying stress and trauma had led them to face the truth and admit they were sexually abused. The cases were rejected on technical grounds, but are under appeal.

The statement said the Jackson family was “furious” the media had chosen “to believe the word” of Mr Robson and Mr Safechuck over the word of “hundreds of families and friends around the world who spent time with Michael”.

The film’s director Dan Reed has said he has no doubts about the men’s validity. The family insists that truth and evidence are on their side.

“We are proud of what Michael Jackson stands for,” the statement said. – AP