movies

The 3 most shocking claims made in new Michael Jackson documentary, 'Leaving Neverland'.

Sundance Film Festival attendees have been left feeling shaken and disgusted by Leaving Neverland, the newest Michael Jackson documentary in which claims are made by Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse victims.

In the two-part film which critics have said show Jackson for “the monster he really was” Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 42, explicitly detail how they met and befriended Jackson in the mid-to-late 1980s.

They allege these individual friendships quickly transitioned into sexual abuse inside the amusement park-like Neverland Ranch – where the popstar was known to entertain children.

They claim the heinous crimes spanned several years, and not only were they sworn to secrecy, there were coerced by their attacker to testify on his behalf against allegations from other young victims.

Jackson was taken to court in 1993 and a decade later for assaulting a minor, a trial at which both men testified. The 1993 case brought to court by the family of 13-year-old Jordan “Jordy” Chandler was settled with a fee believed to have topped $20 million, and in 2005, four years before his death, he was found not guilty of molesting and intoxicating 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo.

Michael Jackson leaves a court room during his 2005 trial. Image: Getty.

Robson, a choreographer to popstars of the early 2000s including Britney Spears and ‘NSync, and Safechuck, an aspiring musician, were present at the premiere of Leaving Neverland. The screening reportedly included on-site counsellors ready to treat audience members for shock after the troubling revelations shown in the film.

“I understand why it’s so hard for [fans] to believe it,” Robson told the audience. “We can only accept and understand something when we’re ready.”

Here are the three most shocking claims from the film:

1. How both boys met the singer

Robson was a dancer in Australia when he and his family met Michael Jackson backstage at a concert in Brisbane. In 1990, the Robson family reconnected with the star while holidaying in L.A. Robson was just seven years old when Jackson convinced Robson’s mother to let him stay over alone while the rest of the family visited the Grand Canyon. That night, Jackson allegedly performed oral sex on him and put his tongue in his mouth, telling him: ‘This is how we show our love,’”.

Safechuck, on the other hand, met Jackson in 1986 on the set of a Pepsi commercial he starred in with him. Jackson, taken with the then-10-year-old, took Safechuck and his family on tour with him. His time spent at Neverland was allegedly dotted with graphic sexual encounters, beginning with Jackson showing the young boy how to masturbate. This, he says, was the beginning of the many depraved acts Jackson performed on him.

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2. Jackson's deeply troubling conversations with the boys

Safechuck claims he and Jackson once had a mock wedding ceremony, during which they exchanged vows. Jackson even gave him a diamond ring which Safechuck has kept over the years, among other jewellery "rewards" he was gifted by the singer.

During this segment of Leaving Neverland, Safechuck, so struck by the trauma of his abuse, can be seen taking the ring out of a jewellery box as his hands shake profusely.

He goes on to claim the star would give him jewellery in exchange for sexual acts. “It’s still hard for me to not blame myself,” he says in the film.

In 1993, after his first molestation case was settled, Jackson apparently disclosed to Safechuck that he had planned to strike up public relationships with women but “they wouldn’t mean anything.”

He went on to marry Lisa Marie Presley in 1994 and Debbie Rowe in 1996.

Safechuck also said Jackson would organise “emergency drills”, where they would practice getting dressed quickly in the event someone approached the bedroom while they were engaged in a sexual act. He said Jackson would find private, closed-off areas around Neverland for them to have sex in away from prying eyes, such as a toy-strewn attic, tee-pees on the lawn and a game room.

Jackson would threaten if he ever told anyone about the instances of abuse, “his life would be over and my life would over.” For more than a decade, Safechuck denied Jackson had ever inappropriately touched him or approached him sexually, until he opened up to his mother and his wife.

Similarly, Jackson would tell Robson he would go to jail for the rest of his life if he ever uttered what went on during their sleepovers, which is why he testified in Jackson’s defence.

3. Macaulay Culkin came between Jackson and Robson

Robson recalls how Jackson "gave him the cold shoulder" when Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin was on the scene.

He tells the film makers that Jackson had persuaded his family to move from Australia to Los Angeles in 1991, on the proviso he would fund their lifestyle, covering rent and lavish expenses.

As soon as they made the move, however, Jackson was suddenly disinterested in the boy and his family.

When Robson arrived to the set of the film clip for 'Black and White', he discovered the new object of Jackson's affection: Macaulay Culkin, who has spoken out several times about his friendship with the star. While he has admitted to sharing a bed with Jackson during visits to Neverland, he has continually denied it ever went any further.

“Now I was on the sidelines,” Robson recalls. “It was very confusing.”

Two years later, during Jackson's 1993 lawsuit, he turned his focus back to Robson, in an effort to ensure he would testify on his behalf and deny all charges.

Robson complied, and after Jackson's success, Robson claims he anally penetrated him for the first time. He was 14.

If you, or a young person you know, is struggling with symptoms of mental illness please contact your local headspace centre here or chat to them online, here. If you are over the age of 25 and suffering from symptoms of mental illness please contact your local GP for a Mental Health Assessment Plan or call LifelineAustralia on 13 11 14. For children, help is available on Kid’s Helpline on 1800 551 800. 

For urgent medical care, contact 000 immediately. Help is available. 

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