true crime

Joy Robson and Stephanie Safechuck loved Michael Jackson. He destroyed their son's lives.

Joy Robson’s phone rang in the middle of the night.

On the other end of the line was Michael Jackson. The King of Pop asked Joy to bring her prepubescent son, Wade, to Neverland immediately.

At 1am, Joy dropped Wade at the King of Pop’s estate. She then drove away without giving it a second thought.

Wade went straight to Jackson’s bed.

Watch the new trailer for Leaving Neverland below.

Now, almost 30 years later, Joy appears almost smitten with the late pop star.

“I remember getting this glow that sort of started in my heart and went to all my extremities,” she says in Leaving Neverland.

“It was an amazing feeling, when something magical was going to happen.”

In the documentary Joy, and James Safechuck’s mother Stephanie, recall the giddy days when Jackson first noticed their boys.

First came the phone calls, the letters, the faxes, then came the international holidays, the private jets, the limousines. Neither mother could believe Jackson chose their sons, their families, them.

“You go from your normal lifestyle day after day – everything is the same – to this big star calling your house, wanting to come to your home and have dinner in your home, wanting to spend the night in your little house,” Stephanie says.

“He could be anywhere with anybody in the world and Michael wanted to be with our family. This was all so overwhelming and like a fairytale and I got lost in it.”

In November 1987, five-year-old Wade Robson got a chance to meet his hero, when he won an Australia-wide dance competition in which contestants tried to mimic Jackson’s signature moves. The performer invited him to share the stage at his Brisbane concert and a few years later, when the boy and his family went on holiday to California, they were invited to stay at Neverland in Santa Barbara.

leaving neverland joy robson stephanie safechuck
Michael Jackson and the Robsons in 1990. Image: HBO.

According to court documents, Wade, then aged seven, and his 10-year-old sister, spent the first night sleeping alongside Jackson in his bed. The second, it was just him.

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That’s when the alleged abuse began. It continued for years.

Jackson ended up moving Wade, Joy and the rest of the Robson family to America so they could be close to him.

James 'Jimmy' Safechuck was just eight years old when he first met Jackson.

In December 1986, the Californian school boy was hired to star alongside the Beat It singer in a Pepsi commercial. James says Jackson immediately befriended him and his family on set.

Later, when the ad began airing across the US, Jackson invited James and his family to accompany him on his Bad tour. He even appeared on stage with Jackson at the final concert of the tour in Los Angeles, doing the moonwalk alongside the pop singer.

During the tour, James would sleep in Jackson's hotel room, while his parents slept down the hall.

Then came the trips to Neverland and the vacations all over the world.

Both boys, now men in their 30s and 40s, allege Jackson molested them for years. He groomed them, their families, and inserted himself into their lives until they reached their teen years.

Then he dumped them.

"So one day, I got a phone call from Michael and he said, 'Stephanie I'm not going to be able to come around as often'," James' mother explains in the documentary.

"I hung up, I went to my husband and I said: 'We've just been dumped'.

"It was an emptiness," she goes on to explain. "I loved him, he was one of my children, so it was a child leaving the home."

leaving neverland joy robson stephanie safechuck
Michael Jackson and the Safechucks. Image: HBO.

It's only years later, since some of the shine has worn off, that Joy and Stephanie have been able to admit that they were groomed by the pop star too. And this grooming made them blind to the abuse that was happening right in front of their eyes.

“I f*cked up. I failed to protect him,” Stephanie acknowledges in the documentary.

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Speaking to Gayle King on CBS This Morning, James said he now understands that his mother was groomed too.

"The parents are groomed as well. So it's - Michael spends a lot of time talking to your parents, and connecting with them, and building relationships with them," James told King. "He pays attention to them. And they're groomed over the time. So it is their job to protect us and they didn't. But I try to look at it from their point of view without letting them off the hook, 'cause obviously that's their job. But they were groomed as well."

Both men have worked hard to repair their relationships with their mothers.

"It was really challenging for awhile," Wade says in the documentary. "And I've gone through many phases just in this healing process in relation to her. I've gone through lots of anger towards her, lots of confusion. Thankfully, we've been able to go through a lot of healing through this process."

Leaving Neverland will air on Channel 10 in two parts on Friday, 8 March at 9pm and Saturday, 9 March at 9.30pm. The entire four-hour long film will be available for streaming online on 10 Playand 10 All Access from 10.01am on Friday.

Read more on this topic:

Without us noticing, it looks like Michael Jackson groomed us for decades.

The signs Michael Jackson was grooming the children he was close to that so many missed.

"It wasn't going to mean anything": Why Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley.

'Blanket' Jackson was just seven when his father died. This week he stopped talking.

The two boys who followed Wade Robson into Michael Jackson's bed insist they weren't abused.

Debbie Rowe says she gifted Michael Jackson two children because he was a 'wonderful man'.

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