Why is Oprah’s interview with the Leaving Neverland victims controversial?

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I have yet to see the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland that tells the stories of two of Michael Jackson’s victims. I fully intend on seeing it, my husband and I want to find a time we can watch it together. Following the conclusion of the two-part film Monday night, Oprah Winfrey aired her interview with the two subjects of the film, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, and Neverland’s director, Dan Reed. Oprah is, of course, a sexual abuse survivor and the audience was populated with several survivors as well. As she states at the start, she taped 217 episodes on sexual abuse during her talk show days. What she intended to do with this interview, as she always hopes to do, is expand the conversation about what sexual abuse encompasses, specifically seduction and entrapment. The Washington Post has a good article about Oprah’s interview,:

Winfrey started by discussing how the word “abuse” lacks accuracy, and children often can’t articulate abuse to their parents because they literally don’t have the language to explain what happened, as they have been “seduced and entrapped.”

Robson responded that both times he testified (he made the same claims in Jackson’s 2005 molestation trial), he had “no understanding that what Michael did to me sexually was abuse. I had no concept of it being that.”

“From night one of the abuse, of the sexual stuff that Michael did to me, he told me it was love,” Robson said. “He told me that he loved me and God brought us together. … Anything Michael would say to me was gospel.”

Safechuck echoed a similar experience and said there was “a lot of panic” in talking about Jackson: “Michael drilled in you, ‘If you’re caught, we’re caught, your life is over, my life is over.’ It’s repeated over and over again, it’s drilled into your nervous system,” he said. “It takes a lot of work to sort through that.”

“You know the Jackson family disagrees with everything that is being said here today,” Winfrey said, and asked Reed about a criticism from the estate: Why didn’t he interview anyone in the Jackson family?

“This is a film that’s not about Jackson. It’s about what happened to Wade and James,” Reed said, adding that no one in the Jackson family “disputes” that Jackson spent many nights with young boys.

[From The Washington Post]

To answer the question, Oprah’s interview is controversial to Michael Jackson fans/family who refuse to acknowledge his behavior. As she said, “this moment transcends Michael Jackson. It is much bigger than any one person,” and she’s right. This sheds light on how children are, sadly, held accountable for their abuse. But, as we’ve heard so far, Jackson’s fans only see this as a Michael Jackson moment. Not only have they been threatening Safechuck and Robson but now they’re coming for Oprah with death threats and vile comments. I don’t think Oprah is too worried, and not just because she can afford the best security money can buy. She has been committed to educating society sexual abuse and exposing predators.

I really appreciate Reed’s answer that he didn’t interview the Jackson family because this film was about Safechuck and Robson. After all the years that Jackson controlled the narrative, including coaching them on what to say, it’s time to let them take it back.

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87 Responses to “Why is Oprah’s interview with the Leaving Neverland victims controversial?”

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  1. Jenns says:

    I watched the documentaries, and the interview with Oprah, and I believe these two men. And I think the director made a great point–this isn’t so much about Michael Jackson, but how abusers groom and seduce their victims. That was my biggest takeaway from this and even Oprah made the point about seduction as well. It really made me look at childhood sexual abuse in a different way.

    • CA Family Code says:

      Everything you said. I agree. Oprah does have the background in educating people about child sexual abuse and exposing perpetrators so it seemed entirely appropriate to me and as she said during the panel and before “We’re gonna get it…you’re gonna get it, I’m gonna get it” referring to the anticipated backlash from the coo-coo bird fans. I would add in terms of the question posed, what I have read is some that are not fans see Oprah as a hypocrite because of her CLOSE relationship with Geffen who has been accused by some to be involved closely with Singer and his so called “hollywood abuse ring”

    • velourazure says:

      Agreed. And why do we need to hear the same old tired denials from the Jackson family on this topic? Their opinions are on record ad nauseam and have not changed. The stories of these two men are new.

  2. DP says:

    Could the rabid fans be going so crazy because on some level they know it’s true?
    So very sad that people enabled MJ for so long and he was able to abuse children. Even worse, they are now attacking those victims!
    Someone said it yesterday, it’s like Trumps supporters. They just make excuses for horrible behavior and refuse to see the truth. Disgusting.

    • likeafox says:

      I’m sure them knowing, maybe subconsciously, that it’s true is feeding their vile hysteria. It’s like someone famous once said, people only lash out about things they doubt, in their hearts. No one argues about which direction the sun rises.

      I’m just surprised that MJ still has rabid fans to take it to this level? Who cares about MJ to this extent? Dude has some good songs in his catalog, but that doesn’t negate the fact that he’s a serial abuser of children. Both can be, and are, true. The length people go to justify their likes & fandoms defies rational belief sometimes.

      • Megan says:

        Nothing about this documentary changes the fact that MJ was the greatest pop star of all time. It does, however, change what we think and feel when we hear his music and I guess the die hard fans cannot deal with that reality.

      • Peaches says:

        You have no idea. I just tested the waters on Instagram and people pounced!! Insulting me and just losing it lol. When I said they were obviously emotionally invested in this, trying to show some compassion, they went WE ARE NOT EMOTIONALLY INVESTED U BRAINLESS PRICK, YOU ARE!! Gotta laugh at these comments.

  3. Dee says:

    It’s been impossible my whole life to express what happened, because I thought I wanted it and encouraged it. This conversation is showing me that ANY sexual contact with a child is ABUSE! And that long friendly process of years leading up to it is called GROOMING and it is NEVER the child’s fault. This film and Oprah’s video are essential to every child and every person hearing these facts. They were essential to me hearing them.

    • Snowflake says:

      Oh, no, hon! Even if a child thought they wanted it, they are a child and don’t know any better. It is the adult’s responsibility to not take advantage of a child. It is NEVER the child’s fault. Never ever! I’m sorry that happened to you. Have you tried getting counseling ?

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      I experienced abuse by a family member. It took until I was an adult to realise that none of what he did was my fault, that the sweets and games were designed to draw me towards him so that I felt complicit in my own abuse, it was to keep me silent about what he did.

      It takes a very long time to put words to the feelings, to understand the dynamic of how abuse operates, I wish you well in your healing Dee, I hope you have love and support to get you through.

      • Rosalee says:

        When I was a little girl I fell asleep at my grandmother’s house while my parents and a family friend played cards. My dad picked me up and carried me to the back bedroom he took off his t-shirt and undressed me and put his t-shirt on me. This was back in the day men wore undershirts, I was so little the bottom of his t-shirt touched the top of my feet. They were having a few drinks and decided not to wake me up to take me home when they left. My grandmother for reasons beyond me told the family friend to go sleep in the back bedroom where I was. He molested me. I will never forget that night. In the morning I walked into the kitchen and my grandmother gave me the dirtiest look. I was confused and scared. I did not tell my mother until I was 40 years old, she cried and told me it was not my fault. She said she wished I would have told her what happened to me..but at age 4 or 5 but there are no words. My mother was devastated when I told her about the expression on my grandmother’s face. That look made me feel dirty, ashamed and ugly for 35 years until my mother hugged me tight and said, it was not your fault, it was never your fault, you have nothing to be ashamed of you were a just a vulnerable little girl. We cried a lot that day.

      • Zapp Brannigan says:

        Rosalee I am so sorry, my heart breaks reading that. Much love and healing to you.

      • Ama says:

        Oh Rosalee, I hear you, and I bet so many do as well, since it seems to happen to so many kids when they grow up.
        I was twelve, queuing in an ice-cream shop, when I was touched inappropriately. First I thought that maybe I was missinterpreting the situation, until a stupid old granny came up to me that must have whitnessed it and said: “You should have kicked him/fedended yourself”!! Why did she not do anything??? Or anyone else? There were at least 20 people in that little room, queuing. I didn’t enter this shop for 20 years – I cannot fathom what victims go through that had a more “lasting” experience (don’t know how to put it)…

      • Anna says:

        Love and healing to you and Dee, Zapp. I experience similar and blamed myself for decades. I hope you’re getting the support you need. <3

        I also want to point out that for many of us, it's also a matter of economic disparity. The abuser knew my parents from before they were married, and he would give me money and other things that he knew they couldn't provide for me, often in secret (such as breaking in to my high school locker before a class trip and leaving an envelope of money…I was so happy to have that but also left in the dark as to where it came from, couldn't tell anyone, felt so ashamed because I knew it had to be him…). The whole thing traumatized me for a long, long time and it's only now that I'm healing, slowly but surely.

    • Becks1 says:

      I’m so sorry you both went through that.

      I haven’t watched the Neverland documentary yet or the Oprah interview, but I do appreciate the point about the term “abuse.” People often don’t understand what constitutes sexual abuse when it comes to children, because their image of “abuse” often doesn’t match the reality. I think its important that Oprah is making that point.

    • stormsmama says:

      yes
      this
      thank you

      • CP says:

        Ditto- truth to all of this, not what we think it will look like. We all need to be educated , including the childhood victims.

    • Veronica S. says:

      Children cannot consent. Period, end of story. Even teenagers around an appreciably older adult are not in a position to exercise agency effectively. Anybody who tells you otherwise is either an abuser themselves or complicit in the system. You are not even remotely to blame for what happened.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      That’s what is so horrible. Abusers push “buttons” on their victims that are meant to give pleasure, so it is incredibly confusing for children who don’t know what is going on. That’s why it takes sometimes 20+ years for victims to come forward, because it is such a hard thing for a mind to figure out.

      Children are never to blame for what happened.

    • Anna says:

      @Dee Agreed. Same here and it has taken til my mid-40s along with therapy and the many stories coming out in the last year with MeToo to understand that what happened was abuse. I lived for decades believing it was my fault (and that idea was propagated by other students and adults around me, including his wife)…

  4. grabbyhands says:

    The Oprah interview is controversial because the Jackson family is determined not to injure the cash cow that is the Jackson estate. Despite everything, his name is still making them money.

    • B n A fan says:

      Bingo^^^

      I for one believe them. I remember years ago it was reported that MJ made a payment of $20+m ($20, 000,000) to settle a sexual allegation against him. I cannot believe anyone, no matter how rich, would pay twenty million dollars 💵 for something he did not do, jmo.

      • Megan says:

        You know who hasn’t said a single word about this since 1993? Janet. Which Jackson has her own money and doesn’t rely on Michael’s estate? Janet. Just sayin’.

      • Ama says:

        I wonder, why parents would take shut-up money from their childrens molester??

      • Deedee says:

        @ AMA. It could be because it is easier to take the money than have your child relieve the nightmare over and over again when testifying only to be vilified in the court of public opinion. It could also be that lawyers cost money, and quite frankly, Jackson could afford to keep it going until families run out of money. It doesn’t necessarily mean the parents sold their kids out.

    • Lizzie says:

      yep. also having the only black media figure in michael jackson’s echelon of influence, fame, adoration pick up the conversation makes them quake. in our culture oprah = legit. her influence (while sometimes faulty ie dr oz, dr phil etc) is staggering.

  5. BlueSky says:

    I always appreciate someone like Oprah who continues to use her platform to bring light to this topic.
    No matter who the perpetrators are, victims will always have to fight to be believed. There are always going to be people who will defend perpetrators no matter what. I hope that doesn’t discourage others from coming forward.

  6. ThatBlackGirl says:

    I’m surprised this hasn’t been said already but she is a black icon taking down another black icon. This is all over black blogs.

    • Joy says:

      It’s the #1 reason. Very much an R Kelly situation.

    • Veronica S. says:

      Even more to the point – a black FEMALE icon taking down a black male one. Lots of gender disparity at play there, too.

      • Milla says:

        There is no color in abuse. Well there shouldn’t be. Those same men used their blackness to twist what their victims were saying. This is a case of really bad men and i it is ok to be color blind imo.
        There is no religion or race or gender when it comes to cases like polanski or mj. I mention polanski cos he was saying sth like : this is cos i am jewish blah blah blah

      • Anna says:

        Exactly. and with how Black women and girls get shit on, abused, without a peep from anyone, not the media, not even their own families oftentimes, it’s very significant that a Black Woman of Oprah’s esteem, power, money, and savvy is coming up “against” a powerful Black man/his legacy. That’s the perception.

    • SK says:

      Well, I can see why this is a tough pill to take. Bill Cosby, Michael Jackson, and to a lesser degree OJ Simpson and R. Kelley. It’s pretty rough to have figures of black excellence toppled in this way. However, a perpetrator is a perpetrator, no matter what we might wish; and we all need to confront that head on. Perhaps Oprah taking this on can make it feel less like a white attack on black excellence and more an attack on sexual predators, whatever their background? I don’t know.

      Here in Australia we are having a huge conversation about the sexual abuse of children. The five year Royal Commission into the sexual abuse of children wrapped up and the report was delivered last year. So many major institutions failed so many children. There have been endless articles about grooming, why it takes victims so long to report in most instances, how the community has let victims down, the cover-ups in the churches and government, and more.

      Just in the last week has been a swathe of reporting about Cardinal Pell – Australia’s most senior Catholic – and indeed one of the top Catholics in the world. He is now a convicted pedophile awaiting sentencing. An embargo on reporting here (due to another case against him) has finally been lifted. We’re having conversations about why TWO of our former Prime Ministers are still defending him and disparaging his victims. John Howard even wrote Pell a character reference for sentencing – that’s right, our former PM submitted a character reference for a convicted pedophile. I mean…

      There’s a lot of reporting right now on how this has rocked the Catholic Church in Australia and a lot of Australian catholics are feeling very much adrift right now…

      • pottymouth pup says:

        and the stories about R Kelley & Jackson have been around, in the public, for decades with people (black celebs included) continuing to work with them thus making them seem more worthy of adulation & allowing fans an excuse to brush off allegations. At best, Jackson’s own self-described behavior with young boys was inappropriate but they turn a blind eye to that. Jackson had to settle with Jordan Chandler, I seem to recall rumors of other settlements as well – Jackson’s adoring fans willfully disregard those.

        While I understand the whole “but Wade vociferously defended Jackson on the stand” in his trial, watching “abducted in public” stands as a huge reminder of how even adolescents can be groomed in such a way that they will lie to protect their abusers from legal charges (tho don’t get me started on the parents in that case)

  7. Flower Gypsy says:

    I watched both parts of the documentary. At times Wade especially and his mother seemed to be overacting a bit, but the supporting videos, photos, etc. of Michael Jackson with all these children, how both men decided to go public with the abuse Michael did to them after they both had children…it just all adds up that Michael Jackson sexually abused kids. Maybe he wanted to have “fun” with them and because he was so messed up he equated having fun with sleepovers and m asturbating, who knows. But he definitely had an unhealthy relationship with kids, and as they said in the documentary, spending 365 straight days with a kid in your bed…that’s messed up.
    But what’s more messed up is how people (especially fans who just listen to his music) are defending the guy. It’s one thing to separate art from artist and I get that, but to just listen to his music, refuse to watch the documentary and then be sooooo determined to defend his innocence? Please.

  8. Adrien says:

    C’mon fans. that’s just too many boys lying for cash. Fans knew he did it but it was hard to accept. They have made up their mind a long time ago. I believe the two accusers were out for some money grab and I also believe their accusations against MJ really happened. Similarly, I believe Amber Heard used Johnny Depp for her career and I also believe JD hit her.

    • ChillyWilly says:

      Cash grab? Jackson ‘s victims deserve ALL of his money! He stole their childhoods and crushed their spirits. He also ruined their families. He is not alive to be prosecuted and even if he was, statute of limitations has run out. They deserve ALL the money.

      • maryann says:

        thank you!!! And Johnny Depp used Amber heard for her beauty so WHAT. Relationships are bout give and take.

        As for MJ’s victims, they deserve every penny. Abuse like this transcends generations and impacts so many lives.

  9. Justwastingtime says:

    I I think I understand why the black community is torn on this. Black men are often unfairly targeted. But this, this was in our faces for many years and white and black people ignored it cause they loved his music.

    I am glad he was exposed and I hope his family suffers financially. They will ultimately be fine which is more than you can say for his victims.

    • msd says:

      I quite like the way John Legend phrased it when talking about R Kelly.

      “In R. Kelly’s situation, that was combined with a reflex in the black community to rally around our men, who are often the subject of unfair prosecution,” he said. “But we’ve got to reconsider that dynamic when it comes to protecting victims of sexual abuse, because some of the perpetrators are going to look like us.”

      Legend has also made statements supporting Jackson’s victims.

      • Anna says:

        Exactly. And as Malcolm X said, the most disrespected is the Black woman. We are statistically more likely to die in childbirth hundreds of percentages beyond other demographics, abused without recourse–how many DECADES have people known (and in the Black community in particular) about RK’s evil, even grooming taking place in the school, and no one did shit. He is surrounded by enablers; he can’t even read so would have to have people helping him constantly to make these kinds of things happen, anything from flights to financials. This country does not give a shit about Black women and girls. It tells us that every single fucking day in every way. No one stands up for us and even when we stand up for someone, when it’s time to return the favor, where are they? Even look at what’s happening with Rep. Ilhan Omar with the Democratic Party choosing to vilify her rather than deal with the very real pedophile/grifter/white supremacist/every-other-evil-you-can-imagine who is inhabiting the White House. But yeah, she’s the problem. gtfoh

        The point is, it took Dream Hampton and a group of very courageous women to finally get this to the media at the level it needed to be and the MeToo movement that Tarana Burke birthed a decade ago and finally that confluence of elements is allowing justice for some. But make no mistake, many Black women have been speaking out about this for years but no one listened and in fact, I had Black men laugh in my face, make fun of me for asking them to turn off the pedophile’s music, and even go full scale defense and begin attacking sisters in the room for what they were wearing, rather talk about how they wouldn’t accept a gay son than discuss the predatory actions by someone like RK. Misogynoir is rampant.

  10. Velvet Elvis says:

    The thing that stood out for me in the Oprah interview …when asked why he didn’t interview MJs family for the documentary, Reed said that MJs defenders agreed Michael had these sleepovers but denied sexual abuse happened…however not a single one of those people were in the intimacy of the bedroom with Michael and the boys to witness what happened. so they don’t really know what went on in there. Only the kids and Michael did.

  11. aenflex says:

    There’s a very interesting article out there, an interview with LMP. It’s super old. Somehow it solidified things for me. It took MJ right out of his Peter-Pan persona and placed him directly as someone who was mature enough to know exactly what he was doing.

    • Ksweet says:

      Who or what is LMP? I’d like to read the article. Thanks!

    • The Other Katherine says:

      Yeah, I remember that she said he didn’t talk to her in that creepy baby-voice falsetto he always used in interviews and just talked in a normal grown-up man voice. The Peter Pan “just a big kid” thing was largely an act.

  12. kim says:

    I wonder how MJ learned to be a predator? Was it something he, for a lack of a better work, perfected over time? Or were his tactics copied from another person? An abuser he was a victim of? From how the men described his seduction, it seems like his abusing had been going on for a very long time. I feel horrible people didnt believe these victims when they had the courage to speak out thr first time.

    • Justwastingtime says:

      I read an old article with Paul McCarthy on him. At one point Michael owned sone of the Beatles catalogue that he bought from a record label. Paul wanted the rights to his music back. Paul said he turned on a dime from a fey creature with a high voice to a relentless businessperson. I suspect he played a lot of roles in his lifetime and that there was a lot of his dad in him when he wanted to channel it

    • Cath says:

      Quite sure MJ was damaged beyond repair (just look at his father, always thought he looked/was plain evil). Probably was abused too (child star, so not far fetched). We’ll probably never know. But yeah, totally believe that voice was a persona. How could it not be?

      And yeah, people refusing to see the truth that’s staring them right in the face, to some people he’s a religion, not a severely flawed human.

      • JanetDR says:

        I’ve assumed that he had some kind of disassociation (multiple personalities) because his persona changed so completely. Certainly his upbringing could account for that. It’s all very sad and horrible.

  13. ChillyWilly says:

    The Oprah interview was very well done. I learned a lot. Education is always the first step in fighting an epidemic. Know thy enemy, right?
    I think all parents should watch this. It’s not easy, but we need to shine a light on these predators and their modus operandi.

  14. line says:

    I am a fan of Michael Jackson and I think this documentary is very difficult because:

    - Jackson is a legend of music, and like all the icons we think they are perfect and we have trouble accept that they are ordinary human beings, who are capable of committing immoral acts.

    - That’s why I think all the other fans have a hard time confronted to the truth. But I think he had a totally inappropriate behavior with childrens. But I think also seen his childhood,I think he did not realize that he what was doing was abominable. That’s why I believe the testimony of inappropriate behavior but it’s very hard for me to believe who had sex with children.

    -So his mixed feelings between morality and idolatry I have from Michael Jackson, I have trouble to see him as a predator like R.Kelly and I will not be able boycott his music.
    -I’m not trying to justify his behavior but just what I feel about this case (sorry for my English, I’m French).

    there is an article by Slate that explains this feeling: http://www.slate.fr/story/174150/michael-jackson-leaving-neverland-celebrite-morale-effacer-genie-monstre

    • maryann says:

      Michael Jackson knew what he was doing was wrong because he hid it from the police and others, covered it up and lied about it.

      Your idol was a criminal and child abuser.Yes, he was a music legend. But he was also a music legend that molested innocent children.

      I hope he rots in hell for what he did to these boys. He is disgusting.

      • Renee says:

        +1,000 maryann

      • line says:

        I’m not trying to deny what’s going on with all these kids, what I’m trying to say, it’s very difficult to accept it, when it comes to a person with which you have a lot of admiration. Personal I’m mix between disgust and a big disappointment on the part of Michael Jackson

        But in his affairs, we must take into consideration all cases that to put one man to hurt another,because I do not think we become an overnight sexual predator. Violently attacking people who are in denial is not the right attitude because it does not help the victims, because every one right to have his own opinion and his own reaction to this affair.

      • line says:

        And then sorry, for me it’s not the right attitude to say, I make believe all the victims,for me the right attitude is to accept to hear all victims but to let justice do its investigation. Or everyone could accuse everyone without evidence. By basing on feelings and not to really evidence.

      • Chingona says:

        @line
        I don’t understand how you or anyone can justify or make excuses for someone that assaulted, raped(not had sex with, as a child can not consent to sex so it is rape),or just molested( you seem to thing this isn’t as bad). I was 3-4 when my uncle who was always buying me toys and candy molested me. When I told my mother she told me I must have wanted it. She continued leaving me with him. She later sold me to other family and friends for money and gifts. At the age of 17 she left me alone with a man in his 40’s in a orange grove where I was raped repeatedly.I tried committing sucide countless times before the age of 12. As an adult I have trouble trusting anybody, I sleep1-4 hours a night if that, I suffer from extreme anxiety around people especially men, I have broken down crying dropping my daughter off at school scared of what can happen to her,I will never think of myself as good enough or love myself completely, I think about what happened to me and the people who let it happen everyday of my life. This is what happens to people who were raped and/or molested so for you to try to make excuses or continue to like someone because they make good music is horrible, this is why these people are able to continue to get away with it because others justify, make excuses, help or enable them.

      • The Other Katherine says:

        I am so sorry, Chingona. It is heartbreaking that the adults in your childhood, whom you should have been able to rely on for protection, failed you so monstrously. Sending you wishes for healing, and for safety for your daughter.

      • line says:

        You do not understand what I mean! I do not have the same conception of justice.For me it’s was impossible, to listen a single version in a case, I must listen to both versions and also take into consideration the past of the victim and the accused. I never said I’m looking for an excuse for an abuser or I do not believe in the victim but not all is black and white.

        Reject my conception of justice, it is also a form of intolerance, because it is telling me that I’m are wrong, and I’m must believe what you say and not to believe no other things. It’s also it’s attitude that will benefit the aggressors. My arguments are not just about the MJ case but generally. In your case, I would not have told you that you are lying. I would have listened to you but I would also need to hear what your abusers had to say and after my first reaction would be to call the police to clear the case .

    • Perplexed says:

      @Line
      What you’re saying, your “form” of justice? That’s not how any of this works. Needing to hear an abuser’s “side” in order to determine if a child has, in fact, been sexually abused? What exactly do you expect an abuser/pedophile to tell you? Abusers lie to their victims in order to groom them, they lie to their victims’ families, they lie to anyone and everyone who questions their behavior and they are very convincing. That’s how they manage to perpetuate their abuse; if they weren’t excellent liars, they wouldn’t be very successful as abusers. Grooming child victims requires the abuser to be highly manipulative, to use both emotional and physical means to convince their victims that what they are doing is both acceptable, and something that should remain a “secret” between them. How do you believe you would somehow see past the facade of an abuser/pedophile, if the aforementioned abuser is able to convince their own victims that nothing that is happening to them is wrong? And to do the same to their families, the way Michael Jackson managed to?

      There are not two sides in abuse cases, not the way you are insinuating. Especially not in this one. You are willfully ignoring everything that’s happened and been made public in the last several decades because you are a fan of Jackson’s music. The very large payouts to families, the graphic description by a very young victim of Jackson’s genitalia, the public knowledge about Jackson’s inappropriately intimate “friendships” with young boys who were often in bed with him, the way that Neverland Ranch was set up as essentially a grooming factory (with hidden bedrooms off of every area designed for children), how Jackson would “move on” from a victim once they’d aged out of his target range (of 8-10 year olds), and then finally, the charges brought against him, twice.

      In the United States, charges do not proceed into the trial phase without enough solid evidence brought before a judge or a grand jury that prove that a crime occurred and that the defendant is likely guilty. The second time charges were brought against Jackson, his case was held for court (meaning, brought to trial) after a preliminary hearing in which both sides presented evidence in front of a judge. This is an adversarial process that Jackson’s own highly competent defense attorneys were unable to enable him to escape from. The judge ruled there was enough legitimate evidence against Jackson for the case to move on to trial. However, our justice system is also set up in order to allow a potentially guilty man to walk free, rather than a potentially innocent man to serve a prison sentence because the latter is considered the greater evil. This means that Jackson, with his ability to pay for the most high-powered attorneys in the country, was able to hire a team to create a defense based around false claims of extortion by his victims and their families. The burden of proof is on the prosecution; when defense attorneys are able to create enough doubt through some kind of questionable strategy like that, then you see guilty men walk free. The prosecutors rely on real evidence and factual information, while the defense simply puts on a show to try to create just enough doubt for a jury to not convict. They put on a “good” enough show for him to escape a conviction, in part by using that no victim (or their family) is perfect, however, the fact that his charges were brought to trial means that there was enough solid evidence to prove that he did what he was (and is still) accused of. So, I’m sorry, but you could neither determine innocence or guilt on your own re: any abuser, nor could you rely on the outcome of a previous trial in the US to determine Jackson’s own innocence or guilt, given his incredible wealth and celebrity status.

      I sincerely hope that you actually watch the documentary, and are able to see behind the facade of celebrity and your own feelings about Jackson.

  15. Marjorie says:

    I watched the documentary and the Oprah interview. Oprah flat out said, you know they are coming for me, they are coming for all of us. She doesn’t care, she wants this story out there snd she eants everyone to understand that this is EVERYWHERE. Anthony Edwards was there and he talked about an organization called 1in6, which supports male victims -
    called that because one in six children are abused. We are a broken society, and Oprah wants us to fix it. Yes Ma’am.

    On the subject of grooming, Wade said in the interview that MJ really started grooming them before they even met – by creating a false identity of a benevolent, kind, innocent genius who could be trusted, when in fact he was a predator. Just like a priest or a football coach.

    Wade seems to be in better shape than James. James had tears in his eyes for the whole interview and seemed nervous, but he isn’t in show biz like Wade. My heart breaks for both of them.

    • Ama says:

      …”by creating a false identity of a benevolent, kind, innocent genius who could be trusted, when in fact he was a predator. Just like a priest or a football coach.”… EXACTLY!!
      I was a fan of MJ until my teens, also caught up on his image, until I started disliking his weird behaviour (and his music). He “groomed” all of his fans…

  16. Michael says:

    I know a lot of people in the black community are pissed that she is willing to go along with the condemnation of another black celebrity but has not said shit about her buddy Harvey Weinstein. Fair or not, people are saying those exact words.

    • maryann says:

      My question for those people: What does her participation in the Michael Jackson documentary have to do with Harvey Weinstein?

      Oprah was a child victim of sexual assault so she identifies with the victims of Michael Jackson.

      Can’t please everyone these days, everyone always has something to complain about

      • Renee says:

        maryann, again +1,000! You are right on the money.

      • Lynnie says:

        Probably what Michael said in that she is calling out Michael in this forum with his victims, but hasn’t done the same? (Idk she was friends with Harvey) with Harvey’s victims.

        I can see both sides. Yes this is a case of whataboutism, but there’s also different trajectories in how famous abusers and criminals get treated based on their race in the media and public. R. Kelly and Michael both got these very public documentaries that were either made or promoted by black people. I’m sure Cosby will get one done as well. Yet Harvey is allowed to lie low and still has famous public defenders, up until recently Woody Allen was having no trouble making movies and getting projects (and even then it’s only a matter of time until he finds someone willing), Polanski still makes films. Hell no one says anything about Elvis grooming his wife. I very much doubt anyone will make documentaries about them or have the white equivalent of Oprah (I was gonna say Ellen but she firmly stays over in the comedic realm) interview their victims either.

        In a perfect world trash people would get called out equally regardless of race or other factors, but that’s not the case. I don’t think that saying MJ is wrong and also pointing out the eagerness to vilify him vs. his white counterpart is mutually exclusive.

      • maryann says:

        I can see how Oprah taking down a celebrated black figure is complicated. And I definitely see the differences in treatment but I don’t see how it’s fair to put it on Oprah’s shoulders to correct.

        I also dont believe Weinstein is an equivalent to Michael Jackson. It’s my personal opinion but sex crimes against small children are a step above Weinstein in the immoral /criminal hierarchy

    • Mia says:

      I’ve been seeing this too Michael. Well we know Oprah will never get another Janet interview. right or wrong

    • pottymouth pup says:

      one thing to consider is that after the proverbial Sh!t hit the fan with Weinstein allegations, people weren’t lining up to defend & excuse his actions the way they have been for R Kelly & Jackson. Oprah didn’t need to do a take down of Harvey, and others were giving his victims (many of whom are celebrities) a voice to speak out about him

  17. Bp says:

    Line,
    Uh…“ordinary human beings” don’t sexually abuse children. Michael Jackson was a sick man & child predator. I feel sorry for you that you are able to justify & support the behaviors of people like r kelly & mj.

  18. What's Inside says:

    Pedophiles are intrinsically selfish and it never crosses their minds the damage that they do to others.

  19. Mia says:

    First concert I saw in concert was the Jackson 5 during the I Want You Back days. Seen them in concert as a group and MJ as a solo artist. What get me are the parents. Why in the hell would you let your child spend the night at a grown ass man’s house? I don’t care if he’s MJ. After he was acquitted of charges in the last trial, his lawyer told him no more sleep overs. Why didn’t any of his family tell him this was odd. I wouldn’t bet my life that he did it nor would I bet my life that he didn’t. I will continue to listen to his music.

    • Myrtle says:

      Over the course of his life, Michael Jackson became a very f*cked up person. Emotionally stunted and damaged from childhood, he was also preternaturally talented, one of the biggest ever pop music icons and an tremendous cash cow for the Jacksons. Certain aspects of his lifestyle were undeniably sick (e.g. taking I.V. Fentanyl to sleep every night and calling it his “milky”) and weird (the high voice, Neverland, and so on.) Sick and weird is one thing. You may not like it, but you can accept it. On the other hand, abusing kids is inexcusable. The victims’ parents and all other enablers are to blame as well, yes. But the perpetrator is the criminal here. I’m sorry MJ was one of your heroes. It’s painful to watch our heroes fall. The feelings of betrayal are huge. This is a very, very sad story.

      • Ama says:

        Well said, Myrtle! I will have to have a conversation with myself: can I seperate the artist from the predator he was, and if so, is that a good ? (Same thing with public fugures like Woody Allen, whose movies I like…)

      • Cath says:

        Hear, hear!

      • maryann says:

        quincy jones wrote so many of michael’s greatest hits, i think he should get the credit.

  20. FHMom says:

    The documentary and interview are very, very hard to watch. I especially felt for Jimmy because he seems like he is still in so much pain. Oprah is doing a very good thing here.

  21. mosi says:

    I saw the documentary and my heart absolutely breaks, especially for James Safechuck. But outside of commenting against rabid fans ( which leads to nothing), I’m struggling to find a way to support these guys.

  22. InsertNameHere says:

    Did anyone ever watch Katt Williams’ Pimp Chronicles standup from what seems like forever ago? He talks about this and puts it in plain terms – no one says the same thing about you for that long unless you’re actually doing it. I was sick earlier this week and made it through about an hour of the first half of Leaving Neverland before passing out on the couch, and it was rough – and entirely believable. Safechuck and Robson have absolutely nothing to gain here, and Robson’s opening monologue really says everything perfectly – that all of the great things about MJ were true, but the dark stuff is also equally true. With Safechuck, you watch him working through all of these experiences on camera, and having worked with DV/SA victims, it’s very hard to fake emotions like that. Anyone who doesn’t believe them just doesn’t WANT to believe them – and that’s exactly why there are still people like MJ in that industry preying on young people.

    • maryann says:

      Multiple victims with similar stories across several years, police involvement….this shows a pattern of behavior and I believe it all.

      • Perplexed says:

        @Mary-Ann
        Thank you for all your sane, thoughtful, and just amazing comments on this thread. You’re very good at making your point without becoming emotionally embroiled. Something I struggle with in conversations like this.

  23. Deedee says:

    Denial is a psychological defense mechanism employed subconsciously to avoid a painful or unacceptable stimulus. It is one of the most common defense mechanisms we humans use.