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“Leaving Neverland” exposes hidden testimony of Michael Jackson’s alleged abuse

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“Leaving Neverland” exposes hidden testimony of Michael Jackson’s alleged abuse

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In "Leaving Neverland," we discover that there's more to music legend Michael Jackson's past than his music alone.

Wikimedia Commons

In "Leaving Neverland," we discover that there's more to music legend Michael Jackson's past than his music alone.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

In "Leaving Neverland," we discover that there's more to music legend Michael Jackson's past than his music alone.

Sasha Hassan, News Editor

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The HBO two-part docuseries “Leaving Neverland” stunned audiences with a compelling portrait of Michael Jackson as a deliberate abuser, as told by two of his now-adult victims, Wade Robson and James Safechuck.

At the time of the alleged abuse, Robson was 7 and Safechuck was 10.

Grainy home videos and candid shots are interspersed with softly-lit shots of the two victims and their families narrating their relationship with Jackson, who is referred to exclusively by his first-name.

 

“He was already larger than life.”

Indeed, the first-name basis in part one of the series emphasizes how quickly the men and their families felt at ease with Jackson’s prescense. The mothers especially recall being as dazzled as their sons when introduced to Jackson, were awestruck that a world famous star would want to have dinner with them at their home or talk to the boys for hours on end over the phone.

That’s not to say the mothers never suspected anything was amiss: sometimes they would eavesdrop on Jackson’s calls to the boys or conversations the two shared in Jackson’s hotel toom, but never witnessed anything amiss.

 

“Will you leave little one with me for a year?”

While Jackson appeared a dazzling and generous friend, the allegations Robson and Safechuck raise against him describe a sickening and methodical pattern of abuse: gaining the boys’ friendship and trust with exclusive access to him and his brand, isolating them from their families and warning the boys to mistrust their families before abusing the boys in private.

And once the abuse began, it became a daily routine, with Jackson even requesting Joy Robson, Wade Robson’s mother, to let him come on tour for a year, a proposal that she promptly shot down.

 

“Porn and candy, that’s what he had.”

Meanwhile, the boys and their families were allowed free reign of Jackson’s “Neverland” estate and theme park, early screenings of his content and promises that Jackson would further the boys’ careers.

And in turn, the families felt comfortable leaving Jackson, whose deameanor they described as “childlike,” with the boys, never suspecting that he would sow the seeds of mistrust and abuse, coaching them in drills to dress quickly in case anyone walked in on their illicit activities, which Jackson told the boys was a display of love.

 

“And he said he loved me.”

Jackson told the boys that what they were doing would land him in jail, encouraging the enamored boys to remain silent.

At one point, Safechuck produced a box of jewerly filled with an assortment that Jackson presented to him in exchange for sexual favors, claiming that Jackson even staged a mock wedding between them.

 

“He was one of the kindest, most gentle, loving, caring people I knew.”

Both Robson and Safechuck profess they loved Jackson, not only as their idol but also as their friend.

Perhaps that’s why it hurt so much for the boys to reconcile Jackson’s distant behavior.

When Robson moved to Los Angeles with his mother and sister, severing ties with his family to be closer to Jackson, under the promise that he would be able to further his career, hours-long daily phone calls dwindled into a curt check-in once every few months.

Jackson had already moved on to a new favorite boy: Macaulay Culkin, who danced for the “Black or White” music video and from that point on became his new inseparable companion. And every several months “like clockwork,” Jackson would replace his current favorite boy with a new up-and-coming star.

 

“It’s still hard for me to not blame myself.”

Perhaps that’s why now, decades since the boys stepped out of Neverland and grew up into men, Robson and Safechuck still struggle to reconcile all the roles the man they loved played: benefactor, friend and abuser.

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About the Writer
Sasha Hassan, News Editor

Sasha joined the Tribune to pursue her love of writing. In the past, Sasha served two years on her middle school paper and three years on The Wildcat Tribune as a copy editor for a year and a page editor for...

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“Leaving Neverland” exposes hidden testimony of Michael Jackson’s alleged abuse