Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson family condemn new documentary as 'public lynching'

Documentary, which has yet to be released, is already one of the most talked-about of the year

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Tuesday 29 January 2019 09:34
Michael Jackson documentary 'Leaving Neverland' screened at Sundance Film Festival 2019

Michael Jackson’s family have continued to condemn the controversial new documentary Leaving Neverland, despite the fact that the film hasn’t even been released yet.

HBO and Channel 4’s forthcoming four-hour documentary, which was screened at Sundance Film Festival last week, has reignited questions over whether Jackson sexually abused children at his sprawling Neverland Ranch in California.

It features interviews with James Safechuck, Wade Robson and their families, who claim that Jackson sexually abused them over a period of several years when they were children.

Jackson, who died in 2009 from an overdose of Propofol, was acquitted of molestation charges in a 2005 trial. In 1993, he was publicly accused of molesting an underage boy before agreeing to a financial settlement. Lawsuits filed by Robson and Safechuck were both dismissed.

Jackson’s family released a fresh statement on Monday (28 January) condemning the film.

“Michael always turned the other cheek, and we have always turned the other cheek when people have gone after members of our family – that is the Jackson way,” the statement said. “But we can’t just stand by while this public lynching goes on, and the vulture tweeters and others who never met Michael go after him.”

Jackson’s estate released an earlier criticism about the documentary that branded it “yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson”.

Director Dan Reed responded to the estate and said they “obviously hadn’t seen” the film.

“It’s pretty much what you’d expect them to say,” he said. “The statement contains nothing that is of concern and no substantial criticism of the film. They obviously haven’t seen it, and I’m not engaging with the substance of what they’re saying.”

Audience members who attended the Sundance premiere were seen with “shocked” expressions after watching the film, with one critic tweeting that he would need “400 showers to ever feel clean again”.

“Whatever you thought you knew or were aware of, the content of this is more disturbing than you could imagine,” Daily Beast entertainement reporter Kevin Fallon wrote.

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