The new Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland has premiered and the family of the late pop star is not happy. The four-hour documentary detailing alleged child molestation by Jackson premiered at Sundance over the weekend and Jackson's family has released a lengthy statement, slamming the documentary and referring to the publicity that it has received as a "public lynching." The documentary has been big news at the annual festival with extra law enforcement on hand to make sure violence did not take place while it was screening.
Leaving Neverland is largely based on allegations by Wade Robson and James Safechuck that Michael Jackson molested them when they were children over the span of years. Robson met the pop star in Australia when he was five-years old and spent a lot of time at Jackson's Neverland Ranch. Safechuck starred in a Pepsi commercial with Jackson when he was ten-years old and later spent time at the singer's home too. The Jackson family bashes the movie along with Safechuck and Robson in a new statement. The statement reads.
"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."
In another statement released Monday morning, Michael Jackson's family went after the media reporting about Leaving Neverland. Social media erupted over the news that the documentary was going to premiere at Sundance. Some were happy that the alleged truth is coming out and others are angry and maintain that Jackson is innocent. You can read a portion of the second statement below.
"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. 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."
Michael Jackson's child molestation accusations started to pop up in the early 1990s. Lawsuits have been filed and later dismissed over the last 26 years. Jackson was charged in a Santa Barbara court with child molestation, but was acquitted of the charges. Wade Robson in 2013, and James Safechuck in 2014, came forward with allegations of their own, which were later dismissed, though they are reportedly remain under appeal. Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed says that the Jackson family is behaving in a predictable way and believes that they haven't even seen the documentary.
Both Wade Robson and James Safechuck have reportedly said on record in the past that Michael Jackson never molested them, which is something that the family brings up in their statement. However, Robson says that he was "psychologically and emotionally completely unable and unwilling to understand" that Jackson's actions were sexual abuse over the years. Whatever the case may be, Leaving Neverland has brought the Michael Jackson child molestation allegations back into the news. CNN was the first to report this news.