‘You don’t know! You weren’t there!’ This is an argument commonly made by people on both sides of the debate regarding the allegations of child sex abuse that have plagued pop superstar Michael Jackson for 26 years and counting.
It’s an argument that would hold strong in most cases – especially historical cases of alleged child sex abuse, where physical evidence is almost impossible to come by. And it’s the argument that the director of the polarising new film Leaving Neverland has used when responding to those who say the allegations made against Jackson in his film are false. But when it comes to those allegations, not only does the ‘you don’t know, you weren’t there’ argument fail to hold strong, it can be shattered into a million pieces.
I watched Leaving Neverland when it aired. I didn’t want to, but as a journalist, a Jackson researcher and someone who intended to comment on the film, I felt I had to.
The film created mass hysteria on social media when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2019. From there, Leaving Neverland aired around the world, including on the two networks that co-funded the film’s production – HBO in the U.S. and Channel 4 in the U.K.
Prior to seeing it, I wrote an article titled ‘What the media refuses to tell you about Michael Jackson, Leaving Neverland & the allegations of child molestation’. In the article I noted that those who’d seen the film were using words like ‘powerful’ and ‘compelling’ to describe it. I was highly skeptical about whether the film could truly be ‘powerful’ or ‘compelling’. I felt this way for two reasons. Firstly, because I’ve conducted more than a decade of exhaustive research on Jackson’s life, and have never discovered evidence of crimes against children. And secondly, because I knew the accusers—Wade Robson and James Safechuck—had major credibility issues and a huge financial motive to lie. Both men have been suing Jackson’s Estate and companies for years—Robson since 2013 and Safechuck since 2014—each seeking millions upon millions of dollars. Their lawsuits have been thrown out of court twice so far. They’re currently on their third appeal.
Nonetheless, I watched Leaving Neverland like everyone else.
The storyline captivates you, beginning with an aspirational tale of how these two young boys came to meet and become friends with their idol – the biggest star on the planet. And then, 40 minutes into the four-hour film, the boys, who are now grown men, start discussing the alleged abuse. In detail. And I have to admit that yes, it is ‘compelling’ and it is ‘powerful’ – just like everyone says it is.
In my objective opinion, from the outside looking in, Robson and Safechuck come across as believable. Many of Jackson’s fans disagree, asserting their belief that it’s obvious that the two men are lying. But that’s because Jackson’s fans know these cases inside and out. They’ve studied the thousands of pages of publicly available court transcripts, depositions, legal motions, sworn declarations and more. No one wants to be a pedophile apologist – no matter how talented a singer and dancer the accused is. Because of this, many of Jackson’s most dedicated fans have done their due diligence in assuring that their support is not wasted on someone who can be proven to be a monster.
But to a viewer who hasn’t researched the details of the allegations, and who isn’t aware about the credibility issues and financial motives of Robson and Safechuck, it must seem like a slam dunk. If the allegations made in Leaving Neverland are the truth, then Jackson really is a monster.
But the allegations made in the film are not the truth. In fact, much of the film is the antithesis of the truth. Moreover, the credibility issues and financial motives of the two accusers were completely ignored in the film, as were the barrage of glaring inconsistencies and contradictions that destroy their entire narrative. The evidence that you’ll find when properly researching the allegations against Jackson is not incriminating – it’s exculpatory.
A number of the allegations levelled at Jackson in Leaving Neverland are flat-out lies. There is no other word for them. And despite a handful of tenacious researchers and journalists uncovering explosive new evidence which proves these claims are lies, the vast majority of mainstream media has danced around the issue or ignored it completely.
And while the dust seems to have settled in the months since its initial release, with the tenth anniversary of Jackson’s death upon us, you can bet that Leaving Neverland will rear its ugly head again as the world mourns Jackson and weighs up the allegations made against him. And when it does rear its ugly head, keep this article in mind.
Herein I will outline Leaving Neverland’s most significant lies, while highlighting a series of other crucial facts, witnesses, inconsistencies and contradictions that Dan Reed neglected to include in his film. And at this point I should warn you: this article is long. It’s almost 8,000 words and will take most people approximately an hour to read. But if you’ve already invested four hours into watching Leaving Neverland, the least you can do is spend another hour learning about how you’ve been lied to.
We’ll start with the biggest and most obvious lie of all – one which throws the entire narrative of Leaving Neverland into disarray and completely destroys the credibility of both director Reed and accuser Safechuck.
When James Safechcuck makes the ‘powerful’ and ‘compelling’ allegation that he was abused in the train station at Jackson’s Neverland ranch, he is lying.
‘You don’t know, you weren’t there,’ some will say in response to such a statement. And it’s true that I wasn’t there. But I do know. How? Because neither Jackson nor his accuser were there either. And how can I say this for certain? Because the train station Safechuck claims Jackson abused him in did not exist at the time.
In a sworn declaration made as part of his multi-million dollar lawsuit against Jackson’s Estate and companies, Safechuck explicitly states, under the penalty of perjury, that he was sexually abused by the King of Pop between 1988 and 1992. Never before 1988, and never again after 1992. In Leaving Neverland, Safechuck claims that during the early stages of this alleged abuse period he and Jackson had sex “every day” in an upstairs room at the train station. “It’s kind of like when you’re first dating somebody and you do a lot of it,” says Safechuck with a laugh in Leaving Neverland.
But recently published documents have blown Safechuck’s allegation of daily sex in the train station to smithereens. Permits granted by the Santa Barbara County prove that construction of the train station was not approved by the local authorities until September of 1993 – four years after Safechuck alleges he was abused “every day” in it.
In an embarrassing brain fade, director Dan Reed made the ridiculous insinuation via Twitter that Jackson could have built the train station years before he received the Santa Barbara County’s permission to do so, making Safechuck’s allegation of daily sex in the station possible.
So, to be absolutely certain that Jackson didn’t build the train station years before he received the county’s permission, British journalist and Jackson biographer Mike Smallcombe contacted Steven Starr, a photographer who took a series of aerial shots of Neverland via helicopter on August 25, 1993. These images prove beyond any doubt that the train station did not exist at the time Safechuck ‘powerfully’ and ‘compellingly’ claims in Leaving Neverland that he was abused in it. Smallcombe double-checked that August 25, 1993 was in fact the true and accurate date of the photographs in question. “That date is accurate,” confirmed Starr, adding: “I have a few of the original slides and that’s the date stamp.”
The picture below was taken on August 25, 1993. The train station wasn’t there (top of image). Work on the floral clock had started.