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


Every detail of Michael Jackson’s alleged abuse of two young boys in Leaving Neverland is shocking in its specifics. Every minute of the four-hour, two-part film is confronting.

In the documentary, available now on 10 Play, choreographer Wade Robson, 36, and James “Jimmy” Safechuck, 42, explicitly detail claims about the horrors Michael Jackson allegedly inflicted on them in the mid-to-late 1980s.

With Jackson’s sexual abuse of children long suspected – though never taken as seriously as it is now – it was the emotional manipulation and psychological grooming of these young boys that was so disturbing.

For both of these young boys, the documentary posits that Michael Jackson groomed them, and their families, for months before the sexual abuse, that then went on for years, began.

Befriending the young boys

Michael Jackson, the world’s most famous pop star, was Wade and Jimmy’s hero. At a time when Michael Jackson was at the height of his career, for both of the young aspiring entertainers, meeting the King of Pop was their dream.

For five-year-old Australian boy Wade Robson, he met Michael Jackson when he won a nation-wide dance competition inspired by the pop star’s signature moves. The singer then asked the little boy to go up on stage with him at a concert soon after to dance with him.  Not long after, Michael invited Wade and his family up to his hotel suite.

Wade explains that he couldn’t believe that he was actually becoming friends with the star he had seen on TV for so long.

Michael would gift Wade with toys and share with him unreleased music, all in an effort to gain the innocent five-year-old’s trust.


The Quicky, Mamamia’s daily news podcast, discusses Leaving Neverland. Post continues after audio.

For Jimmy Safechuck, he met Michael Jackson on the set of a Pepsi commercial in which they both starred. On set, Jackson invited Safechuck into his trailer while his mother remained outside.

After the commercial aired, Jackson would phone Safechuck’s mum asking to talk to her son. When Jimmy told the singer that his friends at school said Jackson was weird, the singer responded: “Don’t listen to what anybody says. You know me. You know I’m not weird.”

Safechuck’s mum explained it was those phone calls that started their relationship.

Gaining trust of the family

Michael Jackson’s grooming of these young boys involved earning the trust of the boys’ parents. Not only did he gain their trust, but he rewarded them for their confidence in him by paying for holidays.

Safechuck’s mum, Stephanie, explains that Michael showed a great level of vulnerability to her, sharing his loneliness and making it clear he “didn’t have any friends”.

Michael came to their house multiple times, bringing toys with him for Jimmy and slowly becoming friends with the whole family as well.

“I came to feel like he was one of my sons,” Stephanie Safechuck said. “I loved him… He would spend the night, I would wash his clothes.”

Stephanie further explains that Michael told her that his friendship with Jimmy was one that he prayed for.


Jimmy Safechuck and his family were soon after treated to a luxury trip to Hawaii, paid for by Jackson. The singer booked out a theme park for them and organised a helicopter ride.

Michael Jackson and James Safechuck. Image via Getty.

Stephanie said during that trip, she "didn't feel it was appropriate for my son to go sleep [in the same room] with him".

"I knew he was a kind man, he was doing everything to make our trip as good as it could be...but it didn't feel right."


However, that's how it was for the first trip. Michael later invited the family to join him on tour and continued to try to gain Jimmy's parents' trust. Stephanie eventually relented and allowed her son to sleep in the same room as Jackson.

For Wade Robson's family, the grooming process of the parents is similar. Michael Jackson invited Wade's whole family including his sister and grandparents to come meet him at one of his photo shoots.

leaving neverland trailer
Michael Jackson poses with Wade Robson and his family. Image: HBO.

At the photo shoot, he asked the whole family if they wanted to come stay with him at Neverland.


When they got there, Wade explained, "We were all tripping was out of a fairytale."

Michael asked the parents if Wade and his sister, Chantelle, wanted to stay with him for a night in his room. His parents, who trusted Michael as an adult, said that was fine.

"For some reason, it didn't feel strange to let me, a seven year old, and my sister, a ten year old, sleep in this man's bedroom", Wade explained.

It was after Michael Jackson groomed these young boys into trusting him, and emotionally manipulated their families into believing it was okay for the boys to sleep in the same bedroom as him, that the sexual abuse began.

Leaving Neverland is available now on 10 Play. 

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'.