Michael Jackson’s estate sharply denounced Leaving Neverland Friday night (Jan. 25), calling it “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death.”
A statement released by Jackson’s estate calls the men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, “two perjurers”— a reference to sworn statements the men gave when Jackson was alive that he had not abused them. The men leveled their abuse allegations after Jackson’s death.
The pair’s stories are the basis for Leaving Neverland, a four-hour documentary that will air later this year on HBO and earned a somber standing ovation after its premiere at Sundance.
The estate accuses the film of focusing too much on Robson and Safechuck and ignoring others who spent significant time with Jackson and stated that “he treated children with respect and did nothing hurtful to them.”
Robson, a choreographer who has worked with Britney Spears and other top acts, testified for Jackson’s defense at the 2005 trial that ended with the pop star’s acquittal on molestation charges.
“The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact,” the statement said.
The statement accused the filmmakers of relying too heavily on the stories of the two men and ignoring the accounts of others who have said Jackson never harmed children.