Michael Jackson Estate Slams Leaving Neverland After Sundance Premiere – Rolling Stone
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Michael Jackson Estate Slams ‘Leaving Neverland’: ‘Tabloid Character Assassination’

“We are extremely sympathetic to any legitimate victim of child abuse. This film, however, does those victims a disservice,” estate says of documentary’s two accusers

Catherine Van Tighem, Brenda Jenkyns. Brenda Jenkyns, left, and Catherine Van Tighem who drove from Calgary, Canada stand with signs outside of the premiere of the "Leaving Neverland" Michael Jackson documentary film at the Egyptian Theatre on Main Street during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah2018 Sundance Film Festival - "Leaving Neverland" Premiere, Park City, USA - 25 Jan 2019

Hours after the premiere of 'Leaving Neverland' at Sundance, the Michael Jackson estate released a statement slamming the documentary.

Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Hours after Leaving Neverland, the documentary about Michael Jackson‘s alleged sexual abuse of underage boys, left the audience shell-shocked at its Sundance premiere, the Jackson estate released a statement slamming the HBO-bound film.

Leaving Neverland isn’t a documentary, it is the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death. The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact,” the estate wrote in a statement sent to Rolling Stone.

The estate also called Wade Robson and James Safechuck, whose accounts of sexual abuse by Jackson is the focus of the two-part, 233-minute documentary, “admitted liars” who “provided no independent evidence and absolutely no proof in support of their accusations, which means the entire film hinges solely on the word of two perjurers.”

The estate added that Robson was “grateful” for Jackson’s role in his life for 20 years until, following Jackson’s death, the choreographer was denied in a Michael Jackson themed Cirque du Soleil production, at which point “his assault allegations suddenly emerged.”

Safechuck’s motive for participating in Leaving Neverland, the estate claimed, “has always been about money – millions of dollars – dating back to 2013 when both Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who share the same law firm, launched their unsuccessful claims against Michael’s Estate.”

“We are extremely sympathetic to any legitimate victim of child abuse. This film, however, does those victims a disservice,” the estate said. “Now that Michael is no longer here to defend himself, Robson, Safechuck and their lawyers continue their efforts to achieve notoriety and a payday by smearing him with the same allegations a jury found him innocent of when he was alive.”

Read the Michael Jackson estate’s full statement below:

Leaving Neverland isn’t a documentary, it is the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death. The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact. These claims were the basis of lawsuits filed by these two admitted liars which were ultimately dismissed by a judge. The two accusers testified under oath that these events never occurred. They have provided no independent evidence and absolutely no proof in support of their accusations, which means the entire film hinges solely on the word of two perjurers.

Tellingly, the director admitted at the Sundance Film Festival that he limited his interviews only to these accusers and their families. In doing so, he intentionally avoided interviewing numerous people over the years who spent significant time with Michael Jackson and have unambiguously stated that he treated children with respect and did nothing hurtful to them. By choosing not to include any of these independent voices who might challenge the narrative that he was determined to sell, the director neglected fact checking so he could craft a narrative so blatantly one-sided that viewers never get anything close to a balanced portrait.

For 20 years Wade Robson denied in court and in numerous interviews, including after Michael passed, that he was a victim and stated he was grateful for everything Michael had done for him. His family benefitted from Michael’s kindness, generosity and career support up until Michael’s death. Conveniently left out of Leaving Neverland was the fact that when Robson was denied a role in a Michael Jackson themed Cirque du Soleil production, his assault allegations suddenly emerged.

We are extremely sympathetic to any legitimate victim of child abuse. This film, however, does those victims a disservice.  Because despite all the disingenuous denials made that this is not about money, it has always been about money – millions of dollars – dating back to 2013 when both Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who share the same law firm, launched their unsuccessful claims against Michael’s Estate. Now that Michael is no longer here to defend himself, Robson, Safechuck and their lawyers continue their efforts to achieve notoriety and a payday by smearing him with the same allegations a jury found him innocent of when he was alive.

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