Michael Jackson Controversy: A Quarter-Century of Sexual Abuse Allegations!
Leaving Neverland, a two-part HBO documentary, premiered on Sunday night, telling the stories of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claim that Michael Jackson sexually assaulted them beginning when they were seven and ten years old, respectively.
Both Michael Jackson and his estate have always denied any wrongdoing. His estate has filed a lawsuit against HBO for airing Leaving Neverland, a documentary made by Dan Reed that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The estate has labelled the film a “posthumous character assassination.”
Several civil and criminal lawsuits and police investigations into allegations of sexual assault against Jackson surfaced both before and after his death in 2009. This timeline details the major events and claims that have plagued the artist and his estate for over 25 years.
December 1986: James Safechuck Meets Michael Jackson on A Pepsi Ad Set
James (Jimmy) Safechuck, a ten-year-old Californian, is cast as one of Michael Jackson’s co-stars in a Pepsi commercial. Safechuck claims in Leaving Neverland that Jackson became friendly with him and his family after the commercial aired and that the singer was instantly kind and reportedly began lavishing him with presents, including a jacket from the “Thriller” video. Safechuck and his family claim that Jackson started taking them on private jet trips across the country.
Safechuck claims that it was on one of these trips to Hawaii that Michael Jackson first invited the youngster to share a bed with him.
August 1993: Los Angeles police begin investigating Jackson
According to the Los Angeles Times, the LAPD has begun looking into accusations that Jackson may have assaulted four youngsters, the oldest of whom is 13 years old. (The child is identified in the film and appears in images.)
Neither Jackson’s Neverland estate nor his Los Angeles apartment turns up any proof against the singer.
Vanity Fair released an in-depth investigation in January 2012, naming the youngster “Jamie” and describing his family’s complaints. As the youngster’s attorney told the magazine, “Michael was in love with the boy.”
Jamie’s mother reportedly had an argument with Jackson about sharing a bed, and Jackson reportedly said, “Why don’t you trust me?” to her, as reported by Vanity Fair. So long as we’re a family, I demand to be treated as a sibling. Can you just stop making me feel terrible? There is a connection here.
Sexuality has nothing to do with it. It’s remarkable that you’ve done this. The family believes that Jamie then slept with Jackson almost nightly for the following few months.
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September 1993: One family files suit against Jackson
Criminal accusations were filed against Jackson on behalf of three boys after the “main alleged victim” failed to appear in court.
Jackson and his colleagues dragged a number of young boys into the spotlight throughout the investigation and subsequent legal litigation.
One such person is 10-year-old Australian dance champion Wade Robson, who first met the superstar five years ago when he won a Michael Jackson dance event in Brisbane. Jackson encouraged Robson to go to Los Angeles with his mother, and they did so within a few years.
Robson’s mom gave an interview to CNN in 1993 when she discussed her son having “slumber parties” with the singer.
The children “play so hard that they fall asleep, weary,” she says to the journalist. As the saying goes, “That settles it.”
I was thrilled by the prospect of defending him,” Robson says of Jackson in Leaving Neverland. being in a position to save him”
December 1993: La Toya Jackson Says that Abuse Allegations Are True
On December 8 at a tour stop in Tel Aviv, Jackson’s estranged sister La Toya gave a news conference in which she said that Michael’s abuse allegations were real.
She explains, “This is quite challenging for me.” ‘Michael is my brother…. However, I refuse to remain silent in the face of his crimes against defenceless children. She believes that Michael Jackson sent money to the families of many young boys, including one who was just nine years old, and that their mother, Katherine Jackson, showed her the cheques. She implies that the money dispersed was sizeable but does not provide any figures.
To this day, LaToya Jackson stands by her original claim that she and her siblings suffered extensive physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their parents. This claim dates back to at least 1991 when La Toya: Growing Up in the Jackson Family was published and was the first time the singer publicly stated it.
Katherine Jackson and other family members also come to Michael’s defence. Katherine was quoted as stating to the Washington Post, “La Toya is lying and I’ll tell her to her face she’s lying,” and that her daughter was “trying to make money off of [Michael’s] demise.”
La Toya Jackson told Katie Couric of the Today show that their mother first showed her one of these checks “about ’84.” But she tells Couric she has no evidence that the cheques were intended as hush money and that she has never seen him in bed with a boy.
La Toya Jackson published a second autobiography in 2011 titled Starting Over, in which she recanted her accusations against her brother Michael and father Joe, claiming that she was coerced into making the claims by her violent husband at the time.
Her family and Michael “understood that wasn’t really me talking,” she said in an interview quoted by the Daily Beast. Never in a million years would I have suspected my brother of doing something like that.
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February 2003: Living with Michael Jackson documentary airs in the U.K. and U.S.
Jackson is arrested on child molestation accusations two days after the sheriff’s office in Santa Barbara County, California, conducts a raid on Jackson’s famed ranch, Neverland, but does not reveal the nature of the charges or the identity of the victim.
In a statement, Jackson’s attorney Mark Geragos called the accusations “a gigantic hoax.” Jackson was released on bail the same day he turned in his passport and $3 million.
There are ten charges filed against Jackson in the end, including molesting children, kidnapping them, holding them captive for ransom, and extortion.
Jackson is on trial after being accused in late 2003 and again in April of the following year. A young guy named Gavin Arvizo, who was featured in the Bashir programme, has come forward to identify himself as the victim and testify in the trial.
November 20, 2003: Police book Jackson on child molestation charges
Macaulay Culkin and Wade Robson will also testify in Jackson’s favour. (By 2005, Robson was a famous choreographer and musician with his own MTV programme; he had previously worked with artists like Britney Spears and ‘NSYNC on their dance routines.)
They’re called Jackson’s “special pals” since they’ve shared his bed. The guys say Jackson hasn’t touched them or done anything else creepy. As reported by The Washington Post, Robson’s mother Joy has said of her son, “Unless you know him, it’s impossible to comprehend him…. He’s not the child next door.”
Currently 14 years old, Gavin Arvizo testifies that Jackson masturbated him; his brother supports this testimony by saying that Jackson provided them with alcohol and pornographic material.
Janet Arvizo, Gavin’s mother, also appears as a witness; her evidence is described as “combative and rambling” by the BBC. Blanca Francia, a former member of Jackson’s home staff, says that she witnessed Jackson sharing a shower with Robson. Jackson is accused of molesting not just Francia, but also her kid
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February 28, 2005: Jackson’s Criminal Case Goes to Trial
According to a 2014 piece in The Daily Beast, Safechuck, who had testified in Jackson’s defence in the 1993 lawsuit, was considered by prosecutors as a potential victim of the singer. Yet Safechuck did not testify in the 2005 trial, so the prosecution did not consider him a victim. Safechuck then claimed he was misled in his statement to authorities during their examination of the ’93 incident.
June 13, 2005: Jackson Is Acquitted of All Criminal Charges
Jackson was found not guilty after a trial that had the feel of a circus and in which the proceedings looked to be upstaged at times by the singer’s antics (including his arriving up late in pyjamas on one occasion).
According to NPR, at least some of the jury believes that Janet Arvizo, the mother of the claimed victim, is responsible. One of the female jurors reportedly asked, “What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen?” when asked about a kid sleeping with a non-relative.
Within a few of months, Janet Arvizo was charged with fraud and perjury for her testimony in the Jackson trial, and the following year, she accepted a plea bargain.
June 25, 2009: Michael Jackson Dies, Age 50
The body of the singer is discovered in his Holmby Hills, California, residence. His family issues a statement at the time of his passing claiming that cardiac arrest is the likely cause of death.
The doctor who fatally overdosed Michael Jackson on the anaesthetic propofol, Conrad Murray, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter on November 11th, 2011.
During the trial, the New York Times reported that Jackson’s personal physician, Conrad Murray, “had been with Jackson at least six nights a week and was often asked — and occasionally begged by the insomniac singer to give him medications powerful enough to lull him to sleep.”
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2013-2014: Wade Robson and James Safechuck file suits against the Jackson estate and his companies
After openly and consistently supporting Jackson, Robson allegedly claims that Jackson sexually assaulted him for seven years, as reported by The Daily Beast in 2013.
In May 2015, Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff of the Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled against Robson, dismissing his lawsuit against the estate on the grounds that he had waited too long to submit his claim. The rest of Robson’s complaint, which was brought against Jackson’s two companies,
MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures was dismissed by the same judge in December 2017 on the grounds that neither company could be held accountable for Jackson’s alleged behaviour. Notably, the veracity of Robson’s charges is not addressed in any of these verdicts.
In 2014, James Safechuck filed a similar lawsuit against Michael Jackson’s production company and a business venture, MJJ Ventures, saying that Jackson assaulted him “hundreds” of times between 1988 and 1992. In June 2017, Judge Beckloff (who is also presiding over this case) rules against Safechuck for the identical reasons he ruled against Robson.
March 3, 2019: Leaving Neverland begins airing on HBO
The two-part, four-hour documentary premiered at Sundance in late January, and it has already begun broadcasting. The estate of Jackson has previously sued the network, alleging damages may be more than $100 million. It starts out by saying, “Michael Jackson is innocent. Period.”
The estate also claims that HBO broke a non-disparagement agreement it had with the singer in 1992 when it aired a performance special called Live in Bucharest:
The Dangerous Tour. (When it was the first broadcast, the show broke all records for viewership for a one-hour HBO special.) At the same time as Leaving Neverland airs on television, Jackson’s estate uploads the 1992 film on YouTube as a form of positive counter-programming.
According to the complaint, “in generating this fictitious work,” HBO “ignored its contractual duties to Michael and his companies by denigrating both him and the Dangerous World Tour” from which HBO had previously benefitted enormously. In addition, the estate claims that Robson and Safechuck have “practised their stories and rehearsed their lines… for years now.”
The director, Dan Reed, discusses his motivations for making the film on, All Things Considered, noting that two separate lines led him to focus on the lives of these two guys.
As Reed puts it, “it’s the complexity that drove me into wanting to fully convey the narrative,” which is that in an abusive paedophile relationship, there is love, affection, mentorship, friendship, care, and sexual assault. In this case, the two things are not mutually exclusive.
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March 14, 2019: Louis Vuitton Backs Off Its Michael Jackson-Inspired Designs
Less than two weeks after the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland’s premiere, the high-end fashion firm Louis Vuitton distanced itself from the late pop legend, whose iconic style had inspired much of the label’s men’s fall 2019 collection.
Just over a week before to the documentary’s world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, on January 17, the business held an event to debut the collection. The company’s senior executives claimed in an exclusive statement to WWD that they had not been aware of the documentary and its “very alarming and frightening” claims until after their own show had already aired.
“I am conscious that in light of this documentary the presentation has created emotional reactions,” Virgil Abloh, the company’s artistic director of menswear, said in the statement. “I strictly condemn any form of child abuse, violence or infringement against any human rights.”
The company also told WWD that it would not produce anything that “directly features Michael Jackson elements,” and that its final collection will “purely reflect the true values of the brand and of our artistic director
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