As the impact of Leaving Neverland reverberates through the Twittersphere and beyond, celebrities, family members and former associates continue to react to the allegations of child sexual abuse against Michael Jackson detailed in the bombshell HBO documentary.
The film’s two subjects, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, allege that the late King of Pop sexually abused them for years as children at his Neverland Ranch, grooming the boys through gifts and attention that eventually turned sexual — including instances of rape, ring shopping and the staging of a mock wedding ceremony with Safechuck.
Jackson’s family members — including daughter Paris, brother Jermaine and nephews TJ and Taj — continue to maintain MJ’s innocence, protesting the alleged victims’ claims as bold-faced lies and exploitation of the late superstar’s memory. Meanwhile, other celebrities have rallied behind Robson and Safechuck after seeing the documentary, with some even retracting their previous support of Jackson.
Corey Feldman, who had initially taken to Twitter in a passionate defense of his friend upon seeing Leaving Neverland, walked back his statement after taking time to process the documentary’s claims.
“I don’t want to be perceived as I’m here to defend Michael Jackson, because I can no longer do that,” he stated in an interview with HLN on Thursday. “I can not in good consciousness defend anyone who’s being accused of such horrendous crimes. I’m also not here to judge him, because again, he did not do those things to me and that was not my experience.”
Meanwhile, Grace Rwaramba, the former nanny to Jackson’s three children, issued a lengthy statement against the allegations. “If Michael harmed Wade Robson and James Safechuck, they have my deepest sympathy and compassion,” Rwaramba said in the statement. “I don’t claim to know what happened between Michael and his accusers. I wasn’t there. However, because Michael is no longer here to defend himself, and because I have a unique view of him and the life he lived, I feel compelled to speak out against what I firmly believe to be false claims. The person that Wade and James describe is not the person that I knew.”
She continued, stating, “He was trusting to the point of extreme naivete; always assuming the best intentions in everyone,” Rwaramba said of Jackson in the statement. “While he was far from perfect, in my over twelve years of living with Michael, knowing him and his lifestyle intimately, I never saw or experienced anything that led me to suspect that he was capable of child sexual abuse.”
Others, like Jason Derulo, have not seen the documentary, choosing instead to focus on the legacy of music left behind by the King of Pop. “Michael was the sole reason I started singing and dancing, so this was a way for me to give back,” Derulo said of his new single “Shut Up and Dance” in an interview with The Associated Press. “I started this project because of my love of the performer that Michael Jackson is and the influence that he had on my life as the best performer that ever lived. This has nothing to do with anyone’s personal life.”
Check out more reactions both in defense of and against Jackson below.
— sia (@Sia) March 6, 2019
You are right. I’ve been around my uncle only thousands and thousands of hours. And since my uncle is not here to defend himself, the credibility of the accusers matter. And Wade and James have none. https://t.co/fF0OgYXUBz
— Taj Jackson (@tajjackson3) March 4, 2019
Now again this is before he “realized” what was going on. It’s a $ grab supported by an emotionally manipulating production that is edited to push buttons around the world. So unfair. $$$ is powerful and evil. And let’s remember their thrown out lawsuit is being appealed. https://t.co/mMFTK8lFHJ
— TJ Jackson (@tjjackson) March 8, 2019
Pierce Morgan a real one for this. Let this man speak for himself to defend his legacy. Don’t just listen to one side and expect to find truth. Oh that’s right…Dead men can’t speak. So what was the point again? Destroy another strong black historical LEGEND?!?! It’s several examples of pedophilia in American History… if y’all pulling up all our old shit… we gotta examine ELVIS PRESLEY, HUGH HEPHNER,and a whole slew of others guilty of the same if not more!!! BUT WHY US all the time? There’s an agenda to destroy OUR CULTURE. #KingsThoughts
Salute to the greatest artiste of all generation 750,000,000 albums sold donated over 300,000,000 to charities worldwide Thriller is the biggest selling album of all times over 100,000,000 copies sold: THEY DRAGGED HIM FROM NEVERLAND TO NETHERLANDS ON 14 COUNTS OF CHILD ABUSE AND HE WALKED AWAY FREE IF HE WAS GUILTY ON ONE COUNT Y’ALL THINK HE ‘D WALK FREE: Move unuh duty blooodclaath KKK unuh cyaah smear black history this not R Kelly this is the King of Pop Music MICHEAL JACSON Call him weirdo call him crazy call him whatever but he is no child molester they couldn’t prove it in life why now in death make him Rest In Peace once and for all Black Excellency—- ALSO WE NOT DEFENDING MJ BCUZ HE’S DEAD WE DEFENDING HIS GREAT MUSICAL LEGACY!
so….. not love and peace and trying to carry that message out? tabloids and lies are the bigger picture? i’ll pray for you
— Paris-Michael K. J. (@ParisJackson) March 7, 2019
Every hero has a flaw. Every hero has their time in sun. We’ve applauded the films of rapists. Danced to the music of drug dealers and drug addicts, possibly one in the same. We’ve marched under the leadership of adulterers. Designed our lives around the wisdom of racists. Had the word of God spoken to us by pedophiles. Fed ourselves with food that kills us. Lied to the people we love to keep them loving us. Dressed up like sluts. Let television and iPads raise our children and our adults. Believe people we don’t know. Michael was/is my hero. He’s not my God. Michael was/is larger than life but he was not life itself. Michael represented creative excellence but he was not excellent. Michael wowed us with Moonwalks and anti-gravity leans but he wasn’t an alien or some supernatural being. With all this Michael is not necessary and for that matter nobody is necessary. Take the parts that inspire and let them inspire, take the parts that disgust and make sure that we apply the pressure and grace to make sure our heroes never put us in this position again. Championing Michael’s good doesn’t mean you also are championing Michael’s bad. Listening to his songs doesn’t mean you are supporting pedophilia or rape. But let’s call him to task, listen to the alleged victims, here all sides and learn the lessons that need to be learned: LESSON#1: STOP GIVING YOUR FUCKING KIDS TO WEIRDOS IN HOPES THAT THEY WILL BECOME STARS BY ASSOCIATION!!! LESSON#1: STOP COMING TO LA WILLING TO DO ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING TO GET ON!!! LESSON#1: STOP USING YOUR BODY LIKE ITS A FUCKING CREDIT CARD!!! LESSON#1: YOUR MOUTH, DICK, PUSSY AND ASSHOLE IS NOT A DOORWAY TO YOUR DREAMS!!! LESSON#1: GRAB YOUR DUMB FRIEND BY THE ARM AND PULL THAT BITCH OUT THE CLUB WITH YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE!!! LESSON#1: DONT GO!!! LESSON#1: VICTIMS ARENT BORN. VICTIMS ARE MADE. LESSON#1: CHECK THE SHIT OUT OF + POSSIBLY PUT HANDS ON THE PREDATORS AND POTENTIAL PREDATORS THAT ARE IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU KNOW ARE UP TO NO GOOD. Admitted predators, rapists & pedo’s are being actively protected by active members of the US gov because they “know too much” yet we still allow these folks to manage the affairs of our society.
who would leave a seven – yes 7 – year old boy with a grown man – makes no sense to me as a mom –
— ROSIE (@Rosie) March 4, 2019
Ok. Take out the sexual abuse on #LeavingNeverland And it would still paint a picture of a very odd man who almost obsessively cultivated close relationships with stranger’s sons. Not appropriate in anyway shape of form.
— Shep Rose (@ShepRose) March 4, 2019
— Scott Alan (@ScottAlan) March 4, 2019
As a former child actress, I can’t help but watch this documentary and think about how wrong it is for children to be put in the position of performing for the soul purpose of pleasing adults. It’s such a slippery, dangerous, often abusive slope. #LeavingNeverland
— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) March 4, 2019
Lot of disturbing details I wasn’t ready for. #LeavingNeverland
— Bryan Greenberg (@bryangreenberg) March 4, 2019
It takes days to recover from this documentary. Five minutes in you will think to yourself “oh my God, every word they are saying is true.” https://t.co/JMoA6Y0dEo
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) March 2, 2019
MJ really liked hanging out with kids, like for real.#LeavingNeverland
— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) March 4, 2019
The survivors are brave. .@Oprah is brave. The documentarians are brave. This is what brave is folks, standing against the grain, going against the norm, rocking the boat because sometimes it needs to be rocked. It is hard to hear truth, but that’s what growing pains are. #Brave https://t.co/luV8wiImAp
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) March 3, 2019
So many in media, inc @Oprah, blindly taking #LeavingNeverland at face value, shaping a narrative uninterested in facts, proof, credibility. We faced similar “graphic” claims + trial-by-media in ’05. Jury saw through it all. Trial-by-law proved Michael’s innocence long ago. Fact.
— Jermaine Jackson (@jermjackson5) March 4, 2019
If you can’t see that Michael Jackson was a paedophile after watching @danreed1000 ‘s film you are being wilfully blind. And if you are campaigning against it you are actively colluding in the silencing of victims.
— Louis Theroux (@louistheroux) March 7, 2019
The @HBO doc #leavingneverland is one of the most devastating things I’ve ever watched. To see the lifelong trauma and destruction the abuse by Michael Jackson had on these men is hard to imagine, much less watch. I’m wondering if any of you watched & what your thoughts are. pic.twitter.com/61PPuFHTXP
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) March 6, 2019
2 parallels to #LeavingNeverland (and reaction to it) and the Trump nightmare: MJ cld shoot someone on 5th Ave and his base wld stay with him; and he’s so in the open (sleeping in same bed with boys, in public with them) about his dirty deeds they’re not stopped.
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) March 6, 2019
— Molly Ringwald (@MollyRingwald) March 5, 2019
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 5, 2019