Michael Jackson’s estate criticizes a new documentary accusing the late singer of sexually abusing underage boys. Hours after it’s announced that “Leaving Neverland” would premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, a rep for the state has denounced the movie.
“This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson,” the estate says in a statement. “Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. Safechuck and Robson, the latter a self-proclaimed ‘master of deception’, filed lawsuits against Michael’s Estate, asking for millions of dollars. Both lawsuits were dismissed.”
The statement continues, “This so called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations.” Calling out director Dan Reed, it adds, “It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project.”
The description on Sundance’s website doesn’t specifically mention the name of the accusers whose stories are highlighted in the documentary. However, the site puts up a photo of the King of Pop with young Robson.
The movie’s description on the website reads, “At the height of his stardom Michael Jackson began long-running relationships with two boys, aged 7 and 10, and their families. Now in their 30s, they tell the story of how they were sexually abused by Jackson, and how they came to terms with it years later.”
The film’s synopsis additionally states, “In separate but parallel stories that echo one another, two boys were each befriended by Jackson, who invited them into his singular and wondrous world. Seduced by the singer’s fairy-tale existence and enthralled by their relationship with him, both boys’ families were blind to the manipulation and abuse that he would ultimately subject them to.”
It continues, “Through gut-wrenching interviews with the now-adult men and their families, ‘Leaving Neverland’ crafts a portrait of sustained exploitation and deception, documenting the power of celebrity that allowed a revered figure to infiltrate the lives of starstruck children and their parents.”
Robson, a choreographer, claimed he was sexually abused by Jackson since he was 7 years old until he was 14. He a filed child molestation claim against the singer’s estate in 2013, 8 years after he testified in defense of Jackson during his 2005 trial. The lawsuit was dismissed in December 2017.
The 2019 Sundance Film Festival will run from January 24 to February 4 in Utah. A total of 241 projects will screen during the festival.