On March 3, HBO will begin airing Leaving Neverland, a two-part, four-hour documentary that examines, in great detail, allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Jackson. Director Dan Reed’s film centers on extensive interviews with Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who became friends with Jackson when they were children, and who say that the late pop star molested them for years. “I’m kind of astonished this film hasn’t been made before,” Reed told Vulture after the doc debuted at January’s Sundance Film Festival. “I think what we’ve done is extraordinary and unique, and it’s never been done before.”
While Reed might be correct that audiences have never seen an account of Jackson’s alleged abuses that’s this vivid or upsetting, this isn’t the first time that Jackson’s name has been linked to such accusations. For the past 25 years, the once-unstoppable star has been associated with allegations of molestation, dating back to a 1993 police investigation and civil lawsuit. In the time since then, there have been other allegations, settlements, an infamous documentary, a criminal trial, and a number of lawsuits. To help make sense of it all, we’ve assembled a thorough timeline of the various abuse allegations against Jackson.
May 1992: Michael Jackson meets 12-year-old Jordan Chandler
After his car breaks down in Los Angeles, Michael Jackson enlists the services of a local rental-car agency. As reported in a 1994 Vanity Fair feature, once the owner of the business realizes he’s assisting one of the biggest stars in entertainment, he contacts his wife, June Chandler Schwartz, and tells her to bring their 6-year-old daughter and her 12-year-old son from a previous marriage to meet Jackson. The boy, Jordan Chandler, is a fan of the King of Pop, and had sent him a letter years earlier. Jackson leaves with the family’s phone number.
Early 1993: Chandler and his family are invited to sleep at Neverland Ranch
Following their initial meeting, Jackson and the Chandler boy develop a close friendship, talking on the phone regularly. Eventually, Chandler is invited to Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, along with his mother and half-sister. During the family’s first visit, the three of them sleep in the guesthouse.
March 28, 1993: Jackson and Chandler reportedly share a bed for the first time
Throughout the first half of 1993, Chandler and his family are frequent guests of Jackson’s — spending time at Neverland, going to Disneyland together, taking a private trip to a closed Toys “R” Us. In late March, Jackson flies Chandler, his mother, and half-sister out to Las Vegas, where they all stay in a hotel suite. According to Vanity Fair, Jackson and Chandler share one bed, while the boy’s family members sleep in a separate bedroom.
May 25, 1993: The National Enquirer publishes a story about Jackson’s relationship with Chandler and his family
The dynamic between Jackson and the Chandler-Schwartz family officially becomes tabloid fodder when the National Enquirer runs a story under the header, “Michael Jackson’s Secret Family — a Millionaire’s Wife and Her Two Kids.” Among the details mentioned in the piece: the frequent phone calls, the Las Vegas vacation, the Toys “R” Us visit, and trips to Florida for Disney World and Monaco for the World Music Awards. It’s also around this time that Chandler’s biological father — Evan Chandler, a Beverly Hills dentist — hosts his son and Jackson at his house for several days.
May-August 1993: Evan Chandler allegedly grows suspicious of Jackson
Though reports indicate that he is initially boastful of his son’s relationship with Jackson, Evan Chandler eventually sours on the situation, and allegedly becomes concerned that Jackson is possibly engaging in sexual misconduct. A 1994 GQ article pinpoints the period when Evan Chandler says he felt something was amiss: when he saw Jackson and his son in bed together, both fully clothed, during a five-day visit to his house. Throughout the next few months that follow, tensions mount between Jordan Chandler’s biological parents, and a custody fight erupts.
August 17, 1993: The Los Angeles Police Department opens an investigation into Jackson
Evan Chandler brings his son to see Dr. Mathis Abrams, a psychiatrist who weeks earlier had reportedly discussed and speculated on a hypothetical scenario modeled after the Jackson-Chandler situation with Evan Chandler’s attorney. Over the course of his nearly three-hour appointment with Dr. Abrams, Jordan Chandler, now 13, alleges that he had been sexually abused by Jackson, describing interactions involving masturbation and oral sex. In keeping with the law, Dr. Abrams notifies the Department of Children’s Services, which then contacts the LAPD, setting off an investigation. That same day, Jordan Chandler repeats his allegations to a social worker and a police officer.
August 23, 1993: The Jackson investigation makes the local news
While Jackson is in Thailand preparing to kick-start the latest leg of his Dangerous World Tour, the first news report on the criminal investigation airs on KNBC in Los Angeles. As put by the L.A. Times the following day, the local segment leads to “a worldwide surge of publicity surrounding the case.” In that same piece, the L.A. Times also notes that police had searched Jackson’s homes — Neverland Ranch and his condominium in Century City — a few days earlier; it isn’t immediately clear what authorities were looking for, or if anything significant was found.
August 24, 1993: Jackson’s camp claims extortion
At a press conference, Anthony Pellicano, a private investigator working for Jackson, characterizes the allegations as part of a ploy to extort the singer for $20 million. “For years I have been working for Michael, who unfortunately has been the victim of this and other extortion attempts,” Pellicano says. “A demand for $20 million was made and presented. It was flatly and consistently refused. The refusals have in our opinion caused what has transpired in the last few days.” Jackson’s lawyer, Howard Weitzman, reads a statement from the pop star, who’s still in Thailand; in his statement, Jackson denies the allegations, saying he’s confident that police “will conduct a fair and thorough investigation and its results will demonstrate that there was no wrongdoing on my part.”
August 26, 1993: Details of Jordan Chandler’s allegations leak
The L.A. Times publishes several details from Chandler’s statement to the social worker. According to case files obtained by the newspaper, Chandler said he initially was comfortable sleeping in the same bed as Jackson — but that changed over time, once the singer’s alleged advances began to include kissing and fondling. The documents also state that Jackson allegedly pressured Chandler not to speak of their relationship to anyone. “Minor stated Mr. Jackson told minor that minor would go to Juvenile Hall if he told and that they’d both be in trouble,” reads one portion of the files. “Minor also said Mr. Jackson told him about other boys he had ‘done this with, but he didn’t go as far with them.’”
August 27, 1993: The Los Angeles Times reports a lack of physical evidence against Jackson
Nearly a week after police searched Jackson’s two homes, the L.A. Times reports that videotapes seized in the investigation don’t contain any incriminating information. Without any physical evidence to build a criminal case, authorities focus on interviewing other children associated with Jackson. It’s also in late August that two other young boys — Wade Robson, 10, and Brett Barnes, 11 — defend the singer during a press conference, insisting that Jackson never tried anything sexual with them. “Sure, I slept with him on dozens of occasions,” Robson says. “But the bed we shared was huge. He sleeps on one side, I sleep on the other.”
August 31, 1993: Jackson’s team points to recordings of Evan Chandler as proof of extortion
In July of 1993, while Jordan Chandler’s parents are in the midst of their custody battle, Chandler’s stepfather, Dave Schwartz, secretly records phone conversations with Chandler’s biological father. The L.A. Times reports on the existence of the tapes in late August, noting that Jackson’s camp cites them as proof of an extortion scheme. “There will be a massacre if I don’t get what I want,” Evan Chandler reportedly says at one point in the recordings. According to the Times, Evan Chandler doesn’t explicitly say what he wants anywhere in the recordings, nor does he go into any detail about the allegations against Jackson, despite claiming to “have the evidence.”
September 14, 1993: Jordan Chandler’s parents file a civil suit against Jackson
As Jackson’s in Moscow for his Dangerous World Tour, Jordan Chandler’s parents file a civil lawsuit alleging that the singer “repeatedly committed sexual battery” on their son. Per the L.A. Times, the suit claims that Jackson masturbated Chandler and performed oral sex with him, among other acts. Jackson’s team maintains that the allegations are part of an extortion plot.
December 15, 1993: Jackson’s ex-maid makes allegations on Hard Copy
In the months after the allegations are made public, a flurry of former Jackson employees — security guards, housekeepers — claim to have stories of impropriety to sell to tabloids. One of the more prominent accusers is Blanca Francia, who worked as Jackson’s maid from 1986 to 1991. As later described by GQ, Francia appears on tabloid TV program Hard Copy and alleges that she saw a nude Jackson showering and in a Jacuzzi with boys, and that she also observed the singer having inappropriate contact with her own son. According to GQ, Francia is paid $20,000 for the segment. The magazine also reports that Francia apparently gives a different account of events under deposition, saying she never actually witnessed Jackson shower with anyone and that Jackson and the boys always had swimming trunks on when they were in the Jacuzzi.
December 20, 1993: Police conduct a strip search on Jackson
Authorities serve Jackson with a search warrant at Neverland Ranch, allowing them to conduct a strip search on the singer. Photos are taken of Jackson’s nude body to see if his genitals match the descriptions given by Jordan Chandler.
December 22, 1993: Jackson denies accusations on live TV
In his first public appearance since November 12, when he canceled the final month of his Dangerous World Tour, Jackson denies the allegations during a live television address. Speaking from Neverland Ranch via satellite, the singer calls the accusations “totally false” and says that he’s “totally innocent of any wrongdoing.” He also criticizes the media coverage of the case and details the experience of having to submit to a strip search. “They served a search warrant on me, which allowed them to view and photograph my body, including my penis, buttocks, my lower torso, thighs, and any other area that they wanted,” Jackson says. “It was the most humiliating ordeal of my life.”
January 24, 1994: Los Angeles County district attorney’s office declines to bring extortion charges against Evan Chandler
Despite regular insistence from Jackson’s camp that the allegations against the singer are part of an extortion scheme, prosecutors announce that they won’t be bringing any charges of attempted extortion against Evan Chandler. “The evidence does not show that any crime has been committed,” says a deputy Los Angeles County district attorney.
January 25, 1994: Jackson settles the Chandlers’ civil lawsuit
Rather than proceed with the civil trial scheduled for March of 1994, lawyers for Jackson and the Chandler family reach a settlement agreement, ending the lawsuit. The total sum of money involved is not immediately made public, but in 2004, Court TV reports it to be in excess of $20 million, with more than $15 million placed in a trust fund for Jordan Chandler, $1.5 million for each of the boy’s parents, and $5 million for their lawyer. Jackson’s legal team remains adamant that the singer is innocent, saying in a statement, “The resolution of this case is in no way an admission of guilt by Michael Jackson.” But even though the civil suit is settled, the criminal investigation continues.
September 22, 1994: Prosecutors announce they won’t file criminal charges against Jackson
More than a year after the police investigation into Jackson is first opened, prosecutors announce that they won’t be filing criminal charges against the pop star. According to the New York Times, district attorneys for Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties say they opted against pursuing charges because they learned that Jordan Chandler, the “primary alleged victim,” did not want to testify. Prosecutors are clear, though, that if Chandler were to change his mind within the statute of limitations, then they would reexamine the case. They also note that their investigation identified two other alleged victims — neither of whom were willing to testify, per the L.A. Times. Jackson responds to the news in a statement, saying, “I am thankful that the investigation has reached a conclusion. I continually maintained my innocence. I am grateful to all my family, friends and fans who have stood by me and also believed in my innocence.”
August 2000: Jackson meets Gavin Arvizo
Gavin Arvizo, a 10-year-old boy with cancer, is expected to live for just a few more weeks; in that time, he’d like to meet a handful of celebrities, including Michael Jackson, according to a 2004 Vanity Fair feature. After a friend of Arvizo’s helps connect them, the boy and Jackson speak on the phone. In August, Arvizo goes to Neverland Ranch with both of his parents, his brother, and his sister to meet the singer.
February 2003: The documentary Living With Michael Jackson airs in Britain and the U.S.
Over an eight-month span beginning in 2002, British journalist Martin Bashir conducts a series of interviews with Jackson. The footage is edited into a documentary, Living With Michael Jackson, that premieres in Britain on February 3 and debuts in the U.S. three days later. Immediately, the doc reignites skepticism about Jackson’s relationships with children.
Bashir finds that, despite the Chandler allegations and police investigation from a decade earlier, Jackson is still hosting children at Neverland Ranch, and still having some of them sleep in his bedroom. Arvizo — whose cancer had gone into remission — appears in the program, at one point holding hands with Jackson as they both discuss sleeping arrangements for Jackson’s young guests. They also reference a specific night, when Arvizo asked to stay in Jackson’s bedroom, and the singer slept on the floor while Arvizo slept in the bed.
Later in the doc, Bashir returns to the subject of the sleepovers. Jackson again denies sharing a bed with Arvizo, but mentions that he has shared a bed with other children in the past, including actors Macaulay and Kieran Culkin. “It’s very loving, that’s what the world needs now,” Jackson says. “It’s not sexual, we’re going to sleep. I tuck them in … It’s very charming, it’s very sweet.”
February 5, 2003: Jackson responds to the Bashir documentary
After Living With Michael Jackson puts Jackson’s dealings with children back in the news, the doc’s subject responds with a statement. “I trusted Martin Bashir to come into my life and that of my family because I wanted the truth to be told,” Jackson says. “Today I feel more betrayed than perhaps ever before; that someone who had got to know my children, my staff and me, whom I let into my heart and told the truth, could then sacrifice the trust I placed in him and produce this terrible and unfair [program].”
November 18, 2003: Police raid Neverland Ranch
While Jackson’s in Las Vegas reportedly shooting a music video and a recently announced CBS special, more than 60 law-enforcement officials raid Neverland Ranch, searching for evidence in what they describe as “an ongoing criminal investigation.” One day later, police reveal that they’ve issued an arrest warrant for Jackson, on multiple counts of child molestation, and announce that they’re giving him the opportunity to surrender. In response to the news, CBS pulls the upcoming TV special.
November 20, 2003: Jackson is booked and released on bond
The day following the announcement of the arrest warrant, Jackson is booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail. Authorities say that he will be charged “with multiple counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14,” according to the New York Times, but formal charges are still pending. No information about the alleged victim is released, though the Times reports that the allegations involve a young cancer patient who previously stayed at Neverland Ranch.
Jackson’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, denies the charges on his client’s behalf, telling the press that they’re “categorically untrue.” And for all the media coverage, the star isn’t in custody long: Roughly an hour after he arrives in handcuffs, Jackson is free on a $3 million bond.
December 18, 2003: Jackson is formally charged with child molestation
Nearly a full month removed from the booking, Santa Barbara prosecutors formally charge Jackson with seven counts of child molesting, and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent for the purpose of committing a felony. The New York Times points out that, just by themselves, the molestation charges could carry a penalty of 20 years in prison.
Geragos again denies the allegations and, like Jackson’s lawyers a decade earlier, calls into question the motives of the accusers. “Anybody else who knows anything about the history of these accusers, anybody who knows anything about the history of the investigators and the axes they have to grind, know that these charges are not only categorically untrue, but they’re driven, driven by two things: money and revenge,” he says.
Citing the charging document, the Times reports that the alleged crimes are said to have taken place between February 7 and March 10, 2003 — meaning they allegedly occurred after Living With Michael Jackson aired on television.
March-April, 2004: Grand jury assembles and indicts Jackson on additional charges
On March 29, a 19-member grand jury convenes to hear evidence pertaining to the Jackson criminal case. As CNN later notes, the witnesses in the proceedings include Arvizo; his brother; his parents; the friend who initially connected Arvizo and Jackson; attorney Larry Feldman, who represented Jordan Chandler and is counseling Arvizo’s mother; and Stan Katz, the psychologist who reportedly notified authorities of Arvizo’s allegations after they came up during a session.
The grand jury indicts Jackson on April 21, but the charges are not made public until several days later. On May 1, the L.A. Times reports that the indictment features a new charge of conspiracy involving child abduction, false imprisonment, and extortion; this comes in addition to “four counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with a minor under 14, another charge of attempting to commit a lewd act with a minor, and four counts of providing an intoxicant to a minor in order to seduce him,” according to the Times.
February 28, 2005: Jackson’s criminal trial begins
Jackson’s trial regularly makes headlines, with its focus on celebrity witnesses — including Macaulay Culkin and Chris Tucker — and the singer’s eccentric behavior. (In one of the more memorable moments, Jackson arrives to court late on March 10 while wearing pajamas, after the judge threatens to arrest him for failing to show up.)
But at the center of The People v. Michael Jackson are allegations and testimony from Arvizo that Jackson masturbated him and served him alcohol that the singer called “Jesus Juice.” Arvizo’s older sister and younger brother also take the stand during the 14-week trial. She alleges that, in the wake of the premiere of Living With Michael Jackson, Jackson’s employees tried to keep her and her family out of the public eye by moving them between Neverland Ranch, their own Los Angeles home, a hotel in Calabasas where they were instructed to remain in their rooms, and a Miami resort. When Arvizo’s mother gets on the stand, she says that on the flight back from Miami, she saw Jackson licking her older son’s head. Arvizo’s brother testifies that, in two separate instances, he saw Jackson masturbate as he groped Arvizo at the same time; the brother also says that Jackson showed them pornographic material.
Blanca Francia, Jackson’s ex-maid who made allegations against him on Hard Copy in the ’90s, takes the stand, too. She says that she once saw Jackson showering with Wade Robson, who was one of the boys who denied any wrongdoing by Jackson back in 1993. Francia also testifies that she was worried about her own son’s contact with Jackson.
Her son, Jason Francia, actually serves as a witness in his own right, and testifies that Jackson molested him on three occasions, when he was between the ages of 7 and 10. At age 24, he tells the court that the singer also gave him $100 bills to keep him quiet. The L.A. Times notes in April that Blanca Francia and her son “reportedly received about $2 million from Jackson for agreeing not to sue.”
Other witnesses called to testify say they were never abused by Jackson, despite spending time with the pop star when they were children. Robson, at age 22, takes the stand in May, and disputes Francia’s account — he says that he never took a shower with Jackson. He also says that while he and Jackson shared a bed several times when he was between the ages of 7 and 14, Jackson never touched him sexually. Brett Barnes — who, as a child, was one of the other boys who came to Jackson’s defense in the early ’90s — also denies ever being molested by Jackson. As does Macaulay Culkin, who calls the allegations “absolutely ridiculous.”
Throughout the trial, Jackson’s defense team picks at the credibility of the Arvizo family. There are questions about why certain accounts don’t line up and why the Arvizo boy denied anything happened to an official at his school. Neverland employees testify that they saw Arvizo and his brother “reading pornographic magazines, stealing liquor, writing lewd graffiti,” according to the New York Times. The defense also presents witnesses who allege that Arvizo’s mother coached her children to lie in an earlier civil lawsuit.
June 14, 2005: Jackson is acquitted of all charges
The jury deliberates for 32 hours across a total of seven days, and arrives at a verdict of not guilty on all counts. “We expected better evidence, something that was a little more convincing,” one juror says at a news conference following the announcement. “It just wasn’t there.”
May 2013: Wade Robson sues the Jackson estate
Four years after Michael Jackson’s death in June of 2009, Robson files paperwork in Los Angeles alleging that the late singer actually did molest him when he was a child; the papers also request permission to file a late creditor’s claim against Jackson’s estate. Howard Weitzman, a lawyer for the estate, calls the allegations “sad” and “less than credible” in a statement, and also notes Robson’s past support of Jackson. “This is a young man who has testified at least twice under oath over the past 20 years and said in numerous interviews that Michael Jackson never did anything inappropriate to him or with him,” Weitzman says.
Robson’s ties to Jackson go far back: He reportedly met the pop icon when he was just 5 years old, after winning a dance competition in his hometown of Brisbane, Australia. Two years later, Robson was a first-time guest at Neverland Ranch. After the boy’s family relocated to Los Angeles full-time, he spent more time with Jackson and even appeared in a few of the singer’s early-’90s music videos. In his 2013 filing, Robson alleges that it was during this period — a stretch of seven years, from when he was 7 to 14 years old — that Jackson sexually abused him.
“This is not a case of repressed memory,” Robson, a choreographer in the entertainment industry, says in a May 16 appearance on the Today show. “I have never forgotten one moment of what Michael did to me, but I was psychologically and emotionally completely unable and unwilling to understand that it was sexual abuse.” Robson explains that his perspective changed after he became a father, and considered how he’d feel if someone abused his son.
“Michael was, yes, an incredibly talented artist with an incredible gift,” the then-30-year-old Robson says on Today. “And he was also a pedophile and a child sexual abuser.”
May 2014: James Safechuck files a sexual-assault complaint against Jackson
On May 14, the Daily Beast reports that another accuser has filed a sexual assault complaint against the Jackson estate. Though the complaint is sealed, the Daily Beast cites “two sources close to the case” who identify the man behind the filing as James Safechuck.
Like Robson, Safechuck reportedly first met Jackson in the ’80s, when he was a child. He was cast in a 1987 Pepsi commercial featuring Jackson, and the two stayed in touch afterward. By 1988, Safechuck was a frequent travel companion for Jackson, even tagging along for portions of the singer’s Bad Tour. The sources for the Daily Beast’s story say that Safechuck’s complaint alleges that the sexual abuse started when the boy was 10, and continued for several years.
Also like Robson, Safechuck maintained for years that nothing sexual happened between him and Jackson — even though, according to the Daily Beast, court documents dating back to just before Jackson’s 2005 criminal trial identified Safechuck as a possible abuse victim.
One source tells the Daily Beast that, after delving into serious therapy, Safechuck was able to start addressing the fallout from Jackson’s alleged abuse.
In 2019, the L.A. Times publishes a piece that reexamines Safechuck and Robson’s allegations against Jackson. The Times points out that, in his 2014 complaint, Safechuck alleges that the first instance of abuse occurred while he and his mother were on the road with Jackson for the Bad Tour; in a Paris hotel, the singer allegedly showed the 10-year-old boy how to masturbate. Safechuck also reportedly alleges that, between 1988 and 1992, he and Jackson participate in “hundreds” of sex acts together.
May 26, 2015: Robson’s lawsuit is dismissed
A Los Angeles judge rules that Robson didn’t take legal action against Jackson soon enough, and dismisses his lawsuit against the Jackson estate. Robson’s attorney, Maryann Marzano, says in a statement that they plan to appeal the judge’s decision. “We are confident that when all the facts are presented in civil court, there will be no doubt left about just what kind of sexual predator Jackson was,” Marzano says.
People notes that Robson said in a recent sworn statement that it wasn’t until a 2012 therapy session that he started to understand what had allegedly happened to him. “I began to recognize for myself that Jackson had molested me,” Robson said in his statement. “I first spoke about the sexual activity I had with Jackson. This revelation initiated an enormous emotional, psychological and physiological upheaval in my life that continues until this day.”
September 2016: Robson alleges that Jackson’s companies were part of a “child sexual abuse” operation
On September 14, 2016, People reports that Robson has filed an amended complaint that alleges that Jackson’s two companies, MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures, were actually part of an elaborate “child sexual abuse operation.”
“MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures were held out to the public to be businesses dedicated to creating and distributing multimedia entertainment by Michael Jackson, however, in fact, they actually served dual purposes,” Robson’s attorney, Vince Finaldi, said in the complaint. “The thinly veiled, covert second purpose of these businesses was to operate as a child sexual abuse operation, specifically designed to locate, attract, lure and seduce child sexual abuse victims.”
Several days later, the New York Daily News reports that Safechuck has also filed an amended complaint alleging that the two companies enabled the sexual abuse of children.
July-December 2017: Safechuck and Robson’s lawsuits are dismissed
In July, a California judge dismisses Safechuck’s suit — which claims that MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures were in part responsible for Jackson’s alleged abuses — on the grounds that the companies couldn’t affect Jackson’s behavior, and thus are not liable. The same judge uses the same reasoning in December when he dismisses Robson’s lawsuit as well.
January 9, 2019: Sundance announces Leaving Neverland premiere
Two weeks before the start of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, it’s announced that a new documentary called Leaving Neverland will have its world premiere at the festival. Directed by Dan Reed, the four-hour doc details the abuse allegations from Robson and Safechuck via “gut-wrenching interviews with the now-adult men and their families,” according to the Sundance synopsis. The Jackson estate releases a one-sentence statement in response to the news, saying, “This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.”
January 25, 2019: Leaving Neverland premieres at Sundance
Reed’s film debuts at Sundance, where it earns strong reactions. Some critics describe the documentary as “deeply empathetic,” and “devastating.” A couple of pieces say that the audience left the screening “shellshocked.” The festival’s director, John Cooper, reportedly tells the crowd that mental-health professionals are available to help anyone disturbed by the explicit descriptions of alleged child abuse. And when Robson and Safechuck take the stage following the screening, they’re greeted with a standing ovation.
There are many graphic and upsetting allegations throughout Leaving Neverland: an alleged mock wedding between Jackson and Safechuck; supposed drills in which Safechuck would have to practice putting his clothes back on as quickly and quietly as possible; how, in their last sexual encounter, Jackson allegedly penetrated Robson anally for the first time.
“We can’t change what happened to us,” Robson reportedly says onstage during a Q&A session after the film. “The feeling is what can we do with that now.”
January 28, 2019: The Jackson family calls Leaving Neverland “a public lynching”
In response to Leaving Neverland’s premiere, the Jackson family shares a statement decrying the documentary. “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,” the statement reads. “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 … The creators of this film were not interested in the truth. They never interviewed a single solitary soul who knew Michael except the two perjurers and their families. That is not journalism, and it’s not fair, yet the media are perpetuating these stories.”
February 21, 2019: The Jackson estate sues HBO over Leaving Neverland
Claiming a breach of contract, the Jackson estate sues HBO over the cable network’s plans to air Leaving Neverland on March 3 and 4. The lawsuit reportedly says that, in 1992, HBO agreed to air a Michael Jackson concert special, and that contract featured a non-disparagement agreement. According to the complaint, damages from the documentary could exceed $100 million.
“Michael Jackson is innocent. Period,” the complaint reads. “Ten years after his passing, there are still those out to profit from his enormous worldwide success and take advantage of his eccentricities. Michael is an easy target because he is not here to defend himself, and the law does not protect the deceased from defamation, no matter how extreme the lies are.”
HBO responds to the suit with a statement, saying, “Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged. HBO will move forward with the airing of Leaving Neverland, the two-part documentary, on March 3 and 4. This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves.”