In the two-part documentary, which premiered on Sunday, March 3, and concludes on Monday, March 4, Wade Robson and James Safechuck detailed the time they spent with the late King of Pop in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Robson, 36, and Safechuck, 40, both claimed that Jackson groomed and abused them as children for years after building trust with their families and inviting them to stay at his sprawling Neverland Valley Ranch in Santa Barbara County, California.
Jackson, who died at the age of 50 in June 2009, was investigated for child sexual abuse two times during his life. In 1994, he settled out of court with the boy who accused him and no charges were filed against the “Thriller” singer. In 2005, he was found not guilty after a lengthy criminal trial, during which Robson testified that Jackson had not molested him.
The Jackson family and the 13-time Grammy winner himself emphatically denied allegations of sexual abuse. In February, the estate filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO for breach of contract, claiming that the network violated a non-disparagement clause from a 1992 contract by airing Leaving Neverland. (HBO aired Jackson’s Live in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour special in 1992.)
After the first part of Leaving Neverland aired on Sunday night, viewers took to Twitter to share their reactions, which ranged from disgust toward Jackson to disbelief of Robson and Safechuck’s claims.
Amber Tamblyn tweeted, “As a former child actress, I can’t help but watch this documentary and think about how wrong it is for children to be put in the position of performing for the soul purpose of pleasing adults. It’s such a slippery, dangerous, often abusive slope. #LeavingNeverland.”
As a former child actress, I can’t help but watch this documentary and think about how wrong it is for children to be put in the position of performing for the soul purpose of pleasing adults. It’s such a slippery, dangerous, often abusive slope. #LeavingNeverland
— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) March 4, 2019
Rosie O’Donnell tweeted, “Michael jackson doc is now on HBO – haunting … who would leave a seven – yes 7 – year old boy with a grown man – makes no sense to me as a mom.”
michael jackson docu is on now on HBO – haunting …
— ROSIE (@Rosie) March 4, 2019
who would leave a seven – yes 7 – year old boy with a grown man – makes no sense to me as a mom –
— ROSIE (@Rosie) March 4, 2019
Another viewer wrote, “I watched this with an open mind. I didn’t want to believe it, but wanted to hear their side, and read what documents/testimonials/court paperwork others had. I still do not find anything to convince me MJ did what he is being accused of.”
#leavingneverland I watched this with an open mind. I didn’t want to believe it, but wanted to hear their side, and read what documents/testimonials/court paperwork others had. I still do not find anything to convince me MJ did what he is being accused of. pic.twitter.com/CNwjjWqBkU
— Delsina (@delsina363) March 4, 2019
A fourth watcher pointed out that “no matter how believed the abuser, it is imperative to believe survivors.”
— go find yourself (@BlairImani) March 4, 2019
See more reactions below.
— andy lassner (@andylassner) March 4, 2019
Wade Robson admitted in #MichaelJackson’s trial that he’d never been molested by Michael.
He changed his mind and sued his estate in 2013, 4 yrs after Jackson died. He lost.
Now we’re #LeavingNeverland with a one sided story because MJ can’t defend himself from the grave.
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) March 4, 2019
I had to stop watching. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse should be aware that this is unsparing and brutal in its content. It’s really bad. If you’re even slightly vulnerable to triggering, just don’t watch. It’s not worth it.#LeavingNeverland
— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) March 4, 2019
Michael Jackson was under FBI surveillance for well over a decade. They found NOTHING to substantiate claims of child abuse. He was also fully exonerated following his ’05 trial. #LeavingNeverland fails to highlight these FACTS – and MJ is no longer here to defend himself.
— Elgin Charles (@ElginCharles) March 4, 2019
HBO should be ashamed to air such a one sided and totally biased portrait. Too much of the story don’t add up and after some quick research about the families this is laughable… Jackson estate better sue HBO if possible #LeavingNeverland
— Felix Rodriguez (@FelixPRodriguez) March 4, 2019
— Scott Alan (@ScottAlan) March 4, 2019
I finally went through both parts of #LeavingNeverland. what gets me upset is that child abuse is a monstrous thing and poorly made docs like this make no favor to real victims and their stories. this film was sensationalism as it’s best and it’s fair to MJ fans to discredit it.
— Gabriel Torrelles (@gabetorrelles) March 4, 2019
If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing and recovering, and more.
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