A new documentary promising an unflinching examination of Michael Jackson’s child sex abuse allegations will premiere at Sundance this year.
Titled Leaving Neverland—a reference to the pop star’s infamous Neverland Ranch—the film will tell the story of two of Jackson’s alleged victims, both of whom have yet to be identified. “At the height of his stardom, Michael Jackson began long-running relationships with two boys, aged 7 and 10, and their families,” says the doc’s synopsis. “Now in their 30s, they tell the story of how they were sexually abused by Jackson, and how they came to terms with it years later.”
Rolling Stone points out that a photo posted on director and producer Dan Reed’s Amos Pictures site shows Jackson with Wade Robson, who in 2013 filed a lawsuit claiming Jackson molested him when he was 7 years old. Predictably, Jackson’s estate is not happy. From Rolling Stone:
“This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson,” a rep for the estate said. “Wade Robson and James Safechuck [who was Jackson’s companion as a child and sued Jackson’s estate over sexual abuse claims] have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. Safechuck and Robson, the latter a self-proclaimed ‘master of deception,’ filed lawsuits against Michael’s estate, asking for millions of dollars. Both lawsuits were dismissed. This so-called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project.”
Jackson was accused of child molestation in 2003, but was acquitted on all 14 counts in 2005. He paid more than $20 million in settlements to his accusers.