Michael Jackson’s estate has denounced an upcoming documentary which will feature two men who claim they were sexually abused by the singer when they were children.
Organisers for the Sundance Film Festival announced on Wednesday (09Jan19) that Dan Reed’s documentary Leaving Neverland was a last-minute addition to the line-up of the annual event, which kicks off on 24 January. According to the film’s synopsis, the documentary will tell the story of two men in the 30s, who were befriended by the Man in the Mirror star at the age of seven and 10, and how they were “sexually abused by Jackson” and “how they came to terms with it years later.”
Following the announcement, the estate for the singer, who passed away in 2009, issued a statement to multiple outlets blasting the project.
“This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson,” the statement read. “This so called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project.”
The Sundance team didn’t reveal the identity of the two alleged victims in their announcement, but in their statement, the estate named Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
“Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. Safechuck and Robson, the latter a self-proclaimed ‘master of deception’, filed lawsuits against Michael’s Estate, asking for millions of dollars. Both lawsuits were dismissed.”
Choreographer Wade Robson filed a suit against Jackson’s estate in 2013, four years after the King of Pop’s death, claiming Jackson molested him at the age of seven. The charges were later dismissed.
Safechuck, who was 10 years old when he appeared alongside the Thriller hitmaker in a 1988 Pepsi commercial, filed a sexual molestation claim in 2014, which was added to Robson’s lawsuit.
Jackson was previously acquitted of child molestation following a trial in 2005.