What the media refuses to tell you about Michael Jackson, Leaving Neverland & the allegations of child molestation

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WITH ALL THE MADNESS surrounding Leaving Neverland—the so-called ‘documentary’ in which two admitted serial liars portray deceased pop superstar Michael Jackson as an insatiable child molester—the media seems to have forgotten about the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof.

Let’s make one thing clear. If Michael Jackson were still alive, libel and defamation laws would mean that this film would almost certainly not exist. But because Jackson is dead, anyone can say anything they like about him. His family, his children and his Estate are powerless to act because the law says that defamation doesn’t apply to the dead. The truth, or lack thereof, is irrelevant.

Directed by UK filmmaker Dan Reed, Leaving Neverland has drawn all kinds of praise from those who have seen it. ‘Powerful. Shocking. Emotional. Compelling.’ These are some of the buzz words most frequently being used to describe the on-screen drama as Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck detail the sexual acts they claim they participated in, and were inflicted on them. ‘This will change the way you think about Michael Jackson’ is another commonly spouted line. When asked whether the film presents any proof or compelling evidence beyond the word of two admitted perjurers who’re currently asking Jackson’s estate to pay them hundreds of millions of dollars, the response is usually the same: ‘Just watch the film.’

If watching the film is what those who’ve seen it recommend the public do to determine whether the allegations therein are true or not (rather than approach the allegations with scepticism and assess them based on the evidence—or lack thereof—as journalists are supposed to do), then I suggest they watch the Hard Copy segment from the mid-90s in which reporter Diane Dimond looks into allegations of sexual abuse made against Jackson by a 15-year-old boy. To save you the trouble, I’ve embedded the video below. And please, do not continue reading this article until you have watched it.

To quote Dimond’s voiceover as she details the allegations made on an 11-minute video tape sent to Hard Copy by an acquaintance of the boy:

Looking straight into the camera and using no notes, this boy proceeded to tell us in graphic detail how he and another teen were allegedly molested by the superstar … I spoke with the boy for hours and he never wavered … [He] described, in detail, the people in Jackson’s entourage, the layout of the (Neverland) ranch, and even Jackson’s family home at Encino. Later he would draw us incredibly detailed maps of both Jackson homes. It was clear that either the boy was telling the truth, or he had been well coached.

Based on his unwavering testimony that Jackson molested him, Dimond launches an investigation to corroborate the boy’s claims. She meets with the boy and conducts hours more interviews with him. The boy maintains his story. Dimond then hands the boy over to law enforcement so he can provide a sworn statement. Police question him for six hours. The boy states on the record that Jackson had molested him and provides all the graphic details. The detectives who interviewed him say they believed him.

But it was all a giant con, exposed at the end of the segment. The boy had in fact been coached. He was lying. Every word of his powerful, shocking, emotional, compelling [insert additional buzz words here] testimony was a lie. Every. Single. Word. But we should believe Robson and Safechuck—who’re currently seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from Jackson’s estate after they insisted, repeatedly, voluntarily, for more than two decades, that nothing ever happened—because Dan Reed and those who’ve seen the film says so? Because they believe Robson and Safechuck? Because they find their testimony ‘powerful’? Let’s be smarter than that.

Most of the reports that have been published about HBO and Channel 4’s Leaving Neverland come from ‘journalists’, HBO clients and business partners, and Channel 4 staff who know next to nothing about Michael Jackson. Most of these ‘blue tick’ keyboard warriors have never covered Jackson before. This is their first foray. They have not studied Jackson’s fifty-year career as an entertainer, nor do they know or care about his philanthropic work, his efforts to fight against social injustice, to break down racial barriers, cure diseases, end inequality, and to raise awareness about a multitude of other important issues including—yes, including—the abuse and mistreatment of children. And most importantly, they have not studied the allegations made against Jackson and cannot reference trial transcripts, court documents, taped calls, physical evidence, the FBI file, or any of the items crucial to understanding the cases.

I, however, have studied Jackson for more than a decade—mostly his creative process and artistic legacy, but also the allegations made against him—and there is more to the story than you’re being told by the mainstream media. Not only is there no proof that Jackson ever committed a crime, there is a wealth of exculpatory evidence that dismantles and discredits the allegations made against him.

In order to understand how and why Michael Jackson’s name became attached to the term ‘child molestation’, we must first understand the series of events that transpired prior to and during the first allegations levelled against him in 1993—allegations which were investigated by the Los Angeles Police Depart, FBI, Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services, and Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office, which found no incriminating evidence, and resulted in no charges being filed.

Michael Jackson always believed the truth would set him free. His mother, Katherine Jackson, somewhat prophetically disagreed. Upon being accused of child molestation, this is the interaction Jackson had with his mother, as she recalls it:

He was strong and he said: ‘Mother, don’t worry. It’s not the truth. They can’t do anything.’ But I told him: ‘You don’t know these wicked people. I know it’s not the truth, but they’ll tarnish your reputation.’ And then people will always remember him the way they said he was, not the way he really is.

Jackson is arguably the most successful entertainer in the history of show business. By the early 90s, the Michael Jackson machine was well-oiled and firing on all cylinders. As an artist, his talent was unparalleled. As a brand, his earning potential seemed infinite. And as a man, his generosity and philanthropic efforts were unmatched. Jackson’s success was on a scale the world has never seen before, and will likely never see again. With such enormous success comes an unfathomable amount of fame, power, and of course, money.

In 1992, Jackson launched the Dangerous world tour, performing night after night for crowds of up to 100,000. Cable television network HBO (who is scheduled to air Leaving Neverland in March) broadcast one of the spectacular tour dates, generating the biggest pay-per-view audience in the network’s history. Less than a year later, in early 1993, Jackson gifted Oprah Winfrey her best-rated live interview ever, and did the same for the NFL’s Super Bowl when he performed a historic halftime show there.

By this time, Jackson’s image had taken a beating in the press for almost a decade. Ridiculous stories appeared in the tabloids on an almost daily basis. And not just in the tabloids. Jackson had to defend himself against a litany of outrageous lawsuits too, including but not limited to multiple false paternity claims and frivolous accusations of plagiarism. By attaching Jackson’s name, a story or allegation that would otherwise be considered laughable was often taken as the gospel.

Despite the constant tabloid attacks, Jackson’s music remained as popular around the world as ever. After doing Oprah and the Super Bowl in 1993, the singer was at the peak of powers. But that was about to change—drastically—when Evan Chandler, the father of a boy whose family had befriended Jackson a year earlier, demanded $20 million from the billionaire artist.

Jackson’s friendship with the Chandler family came about by chance. When his car broke down on Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles in May 1992, Jackson sought help from a nearby car rental company owned by a man named David Schwartz. Schwartz’s wife, June, was the mother of a then-12-year-old boy named Jordan Chandler. Jordan’s biological father (June’s ex-husband) is Evan Chandler.

When the King of Pop appeared at the rental company on that day in May 1992, a starstruck Schwartz offered him a free rental vehicle, but on one condition: Jackson would have to phone his stepson, Jordan, who was a huge fan of the singer. Jackson accepted, called Jordan a few days later, and a friendship with the family was born. The family visited Jackson at his Neverland Valley Ranch, and Jackson spent time at their Los Angeles family home.

Twelve months later, in May 1993, Jordan’s biological father Evan Chandler, a Beverley Hills dentist, finally met Jackson for the first time. Upon meeting the star, Evan invited Jackson to visit at his home for a few days. Jackson, who was on a break from his world tour at the time, accepted the invitation.

In their very brief time together, it would seem Jackson had been on relatively good terms with Chandler. But when Jackson refused to fund renovations he wanted done to his home and stopped returning his phone calls—while continuing a close friendship with his ex-wife and son—Evan Chandler became jealous. In secretly recorded phone conversations with Jordan’s stepfather, David Schwartz, Evan Chandler can be heard venting that Jackson had cut communications:

I had a good communication with Michael… We were friends. I liked him and I respected him… There was no reason why he had to stop calling me.

The evidence suggests that Chandler decided he would extort Jackson. Pay me $20 million, he demanded, or you’ll be accused of molesting my son. In those same secretly recorded phone conversations with Schwartz, Chandler can be heard detailing his plot to destroy Jackson (along with his ex-wife June) for his own personal gain:

If I go through with this, I win big-time… I will get everything I want, and they will be destroyed forever. June will lose [custody of Jordan]…and Michael’s career will be over.

Evan Chandler had engaged the services of a Los Angeles lawyer named Barry Rothman. Chandler was Rothman’s dentist.

The evidence suggests that Chandler and his attorney conspired to give Jackson an ultimatum: pay up or you’ll be dragged through the mud and tried in the media. On the tapes, Chandler can be heard saying:

This attorney I found… This guy is going to destroy everybody in sight in any devious, nasty, cruel way that he can do it. And I’ve given him full authority to do that… I picked the nastiest son of a bitch I could find, and all he wants to do is get this out in the public as fast as he can, as big as he can and humiliate as many people as he can. He’s nasty, he’s mean, he’s very smart, and he’s hungry for the publicity.

A private investigator hired by Jackson said that when he heard the tapes, it was clear Jackson was being extorted. The investigator immediately visited Evan Chandler’s son, Jordan Chandler, and asked him point blank whether Jackson had ever molested him:

Has Michael ever touched you? Have you ever seen him naked in bed?

The answer to all the questions:

No.

Jordan insisted that nothing inappropriate had ever happened between he and Jackson. He also claimed that his father was making these claims in an attempt to get money from Jackson.

When asked by Schwartz during the secretly recorded phone conversations whether he thought that extorting Jackson could have a negative affect on his son, whom he was about to claim was a child sex abuse victim of the pop superstar, Chandler answered:

That’s irrelevant to me… The whole thing is going to crash down on everybody and destroy everybody in sight. It will be a massacre if I don’t get what I want.

To cut a long story short, Jackson refused to pay and Chandler carried out his plan, and filed a civil lawsuit against Jackson. As a result—exactly as Evan had threatened—the entire world’s media reported that Michael Jackson had been accused of child molestation.

The allegations triggered two multi-million dollar criminal investigations by prosecutors and police departments in two Californian jurisdictions. Surprise raids of Jackson’s private residence were conducted and Jackson’s naked body was photographed by law enforcement in an attempt to confirm a description of the singer’s genitalia. Close to two-hundred witnesses including 30 children who had spent time with Jackson were interviewed, but no evidence was discovered. Not one but two grand juries refused to indict Jackson because no corroboration could be made.

But in the end, Evan Chandler’s plot to destroy Michael Jackson by alleging he had molested his son was successful. On January 25, 1994, after months of Jackson insisting he wanted to fight for his innocence in court, an out-of-court settlement—in which Jackson admitted no guilt—was reached in the civil lawsuit filed by the Chandlers. An undisclosed sum believed to be the $20 million that Evan Chandler wanted in the first place was paid. Of that, $15 million was paid into a trust account for Jordan. Evan himself is reported to have received in the vicinity of $2 million.

As Jackson’s defence attorney, Thomas Mesereau, said:

Why work when you can sue Michael Jackson?

It should be noted that a civil action, like the one the Chandlers brought against Jackson, is not the same as a criminal action. A civil action is basically a legal request for money filed by lawyers on behalf of an individual or group of individuals who feel wronged by another party or entity. The outcome of a civil action is purely financial. You win, you get a payout. A criminal action on the other hand is carried out by law enforcement authorities, and requires a jury to determine whether there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime being committed. The result of a criminal trial is never financial. You win, you do not get paid. You win, you get justice and the perpetrator gets sentenced.

In 1994, Jackson was facing a civil action and a potential criminal action at the same time. And at that time it was legal for the civil case to hit the court room before the criminal one. That would mean Jackson would have to lay out his entire defence strategy in a lawsuit that purely sought money from him, prior to defending his life and freedom in a separate criminal trial later. The law has since been changed so that no civil suit can be brought against someone accused of a criminal act prior to the completion of a criminal proceeding. The accused is now afforded the right to defend their innocence and fight for their freedom in a criminal trial first. Only after their criminal trial has been completed can a civil suit be brought against them. But in 1994, that wasn’t the case. And as a result, Jackson settled the financial claim against him in order to not prejudice his chances of a fair criminal trial. But once the Chandlers got paid, they refused to cooperate with authorities, and a criminal action became impossible. In a nutshell, the Chandlers did not want ‘justice’ with regards to Michael Jackson. They wanted his money, and they got it.

And that is why Jackson’s name has forever since been synonymous with the term ‘child molestation’.

Now, twenty-five years later, we find ourselves dealing with a film in which two admitted serial liars—who staunchly defended Jackson for more than two decades (including under oath in a criminal investigation and trial) before posthumously filing unsuccessful cash-grab lawsuits in which they asked Jackson’s estate to pay them hundreds of millions of dollars—sit in front of a camera for four hours detailing graphic crimes that cannot be proven to have actually occurred.

It should also be noted that after an exhaustive 18-month investigation, Los Angeles District Attorney, Gil Garcetti, admitted that the LAPD had not uncovered anything incriminating against Jackson. In a statement, he said:

Michael Jackson is presumed to be innocent as any citizen in this room is if they are not convicted with a crime. We are not charging Michael Jackson with a crime.

Click here for everything you need to know about the 1993-1994 allegations and settlement.

Two years after making the first allegations, extortionist extraordinaire Evan Chandler filed another lawsuit against Jackson in which he upped the anti, asking for a whopping $60 million. This time, Chandler was trying a new angle. Chandler alleged that Jackson had breached the gag order included in their previous settlement by singing that he had been falsely accused. The specific lyrics in question, from Jackson’s song “This Time Around,” are:

Somebody’s out, somebody’s out to use me. They really want to use me. And then falsely accuse me.

These lyrics, Chandler said, were targeted at him and were a violation of the gag order which prevented Jackson from speaking about the case. On top of $60 million, Evan Chandler wanted a recording deal so he could release his own album, called ‘EVANstory’, in response to Jackson’s HIStory. Yes, this actually happened! This is the first accuser of Michael Jackson. The case was thrown out of court.

It should be noted that in 1996 at the age of sixteen, Evan Chandler’s son, Jordan, filed for legal emancipation from his parents. Jordan Chandler also refused to testify against his former friend Michael Jackson in 2005. Had Chandler taken the stand, Jackson’s attorney Thomas Mesereau stated that he had a number of witnesses who would testify that Jordan had told them that he hated his parents for forcing him to make false claims against Jackson, and the pop superstar had never molested him. Jordan Chandler’s mother, June, testified in the 2005 trial that she had not spoken to her son in 11 years, since receiving the $20 million payout from Jackson in 1994.

In 2003, a decade after the Chandler scandal, Jackson was accused of child molestation for a second time. These allegations came after the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services had cleared Jackson of any wrongdoing in their own independent investigation—conducted after one of Gavin Arvizo’s school teachers reported Jackson to DCFS following the airing of the Living With Michael Jackson documentary. Gavin and the Arvizo family defended Jackson in interviews with the department, saying that nothing inappropriate had ever occurred. Then, like Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, they changed their story. The Arvizo case, believe it or not, is just as crazy, if not crazier than the Chandler one.

A brief history of the Arvizo family:

In 1998, eight-year-old Gavin Arvizo shoplifted items from a J.C. Penney department store. Gavin was caught by security, who had followed him to the parking lot to confront him and his father, David Arvizo. Gavin’s mother, Janet Arvizo, arrived at the scene minutes later. A struggle ensued and they were all arrested.

A year later, in 1999, the Arvizos filed a civil lawsuit against J.C. Penney for battery, false imprisonment and infliction of emotional distress. In 2000, the Arvizos amended their complaint, adding new allegations of sexual assault. Janet Arvizo was now claiming that a security guard fondled her breasts, squeezed her nipples approximately twenty times, punched her, and molested her vaginal area. In 2001, J.C. Penney settled the case. The department store ultimately paid Janet Arvizo more than $152,000.

Arvizo then failed to report the $152,000 J.C. Penney settlement (and her $30,000 bank balance) while collecting welfare payments totalling more than $18,000 between 2001 and 2003. As a result she was charged with five counts of welfare fraud and perjury. She ultimately plead “no contest” and copped a fine and community service.

Janet and the Arvizos also have a history of alleged-grifting. Several high-profile celebrities including comedian Chris Tucker testified in the 2005 Jackson trial that the Arvizos had swindled, or attempted to swindle them. There was also evidence of fraudulent fundraising by the Arvizo family.

Comedian George Lopez testified that he had given the Arvizo family money when Gavin was fighting cancer, but came to believe that Gavin’s father was more interested in money than helping his son. Lopez cut ties with the family after the father became more demanding. Lopez also said that the father had accused him of stealing $300 from Gavin’s wallet. When the father asked what he was supposed to tell his son, Lopez testified that he responded:

Tell him his father’s an extortionist.

And that is the family who—after being approached by authorities and insisting nothing inappropriate had happened—changed their story and accused Michael Jackson of the same thing that netted the Chandlers $20 million ten years earlier, and that netted them $152,000 from J.C. Penney only two years prior.

And that’s not even getting into the details of the Jackson trial itself.

On top of child molestation, the Arvizos alleged that they were held captive at Neverland against their will for a period of time. The problem with this allegation was that during their alleged captivity it was proven that they had been gallivanting all over Los Angeles, taking shopping trips on Jackson’s dime, meeting with Child Protective Services (to confirm Jackson hadn’t molested Gavin), attending a child support court hearing, and attending a separate meeting with a lawyer. The meeting with the lawyer was to find out if they could stop their image and likeness being used by the media after they appeared in the Living With Michael Jackson documentary. During their meeting with the lawyer they never reported that they were allegedly being kidnapped and held against their will at Neverland, nor did they mention child molestation.

Another crazy allegation made by the Arvizo in the Jackson trial was that Jackson had hatched a plan to get rid of the family in a hot air balloon. I won’t even bother to elaborate on that.

When it came to the allegations of child sex abuse themselves, Gavin Arvizo’s initial timeline of when Jackson was alleged to have molested him had to be changed when the prosecution discovered a video tape that was filmed after the abuse was alleged to have begun. On the tape the Arvizo family are seen and heard voluntarily praising Jackson while criticising Martin Bashir—the maker of Living With Michael Jackson documentary—for allegedly staging and manipulating scenes in his film to make out the relationship between Jackson and Gavin was inappropriate.

The footage was coincidentally shot the same day Child Protective Services visited the Arvizo family to investigate suspicions of inappropriate behaviour by Jackson. The Arvizos vehemently denied anything inappropriate had happened and voluntarily praised Jackson once more. Once the tape was discovered, the Arvizos changed their story, saying that only after the documentary aired, after they were filmed praising Jackson, and after they vouched for Jackson with Child Protective Services did Jackson begin molesting Gavin.

That’s right. With the entire world’s media hell-bent on finding dirt on him, and with the authorities actively investigating him, only then did Jackson decide to begin molesting Gavin. That’s the actual allegation which they went to court and (unsuccessfully) argued.

In the end, the sheer ridiculousness of the allegations made against Jackson, the complete lack of credibility of his accusers and impossible timeline left jurors no choice other than to find Jackson not guilty on each and every one of the 14 counts filed against him.

Of finding Jackson not guilty, juror Paulina Coccoz said:

It was pretty obvious that there was no molestation done… It was pretty obvious that there were ulterior motives on behalf of the family. And the mother, she orchestrated the whole thing… There wasn’t a shred of evidence.

Click here for everything you need to know about the 2003-2005 allegations and trial.

I’m not revealing anything that hasn’t been revealed before. This evidence and much more has been in the public domain for years. The problem is, however, that the media hasn’t delivered it to you. Many members of the media—in their ignorance of anything that may vindicate Jackson and prevent them from continuing their assault on his character for clicks and cash—may not even be aware that such evidence exists. But the evidence does exist, and a lot of it is exculpatory. It is therefore irresponsible, negligent and indefensible for ‘journalists’ to not at least balance their reporting by mentioning it.

As Michael Jackson proclaimed in his song “Tabloid Junkie”:

Just because you read it in a magazine or see it on a TV screen don’t make it factual.

In early March 2019, HBO (in the United States) and Channel 4 (in the United Kingdom) will air Leaving Neverland. The film, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2019, has sparked outrage among Jackson’s fans, family, and estate. In a ten-page letter sent to Richard Plepler (CEO of HBO) earlier this month, the attorney for the Estate of Michael Jackson, Howard Weitzman, called Leaving Neverland:

An admittedly one-sided, sensationalist program.

According to the Factual Programme Guidelines section of Channel 4’s Producers Handbook, which is designed to hold filmmakers accountable to the highest possible standard of journalism:

It is important that production teams do not adopt a ‘groupthink’ approach to a story and that they review, challenge and are suitably sceptical of all evidence and contributors motives.

When discussing his time with dancer and choreographer Robson in an interview with the LA Times, director Reed admitted that he was not sceptical of his interviewee:

For three days, we just talked. When I started interviewing him, I couldn’t take for granted that he was telling the truth. I wasn’t skeptical, and sort of gave him the benefit of the doubt, but his story had to make sense, because there was no way I was going to risk my reputation on something that was flawed or not quite true.

How did Reed come to the conclusion that Robson was telling the truth? I’ll allow him to tell you:

[…] if people are not telling you the truth, then they don’t have a mental picture of what it is they’re actually talking about, because they’re lying. You can feel there isn’t a mental object they’re describing … If I asked him questions, his mind was referencing a real thing and not a made-up thing. His account was extremely credible. Certainly by the end of the third day, I had no doubt he was telling the truth.

That’s right. Reed deemed Robson’s story ‘extremely credible’ not because he had investigated, fact-checked and corroborated it, but because he felt Wade (who refers to himself as a ‘master of deception’ in an unpublished book draft he failed to get a deal for in 2012 – prior to filing his multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Jackson estate) was visualising a ‘mental picture’ when he told his story.

What Reed fails to mention is that visualising a mental image of things that have not happened is Wade Robson’s personal technique for getting ‘anything’ he wants. He calls it ‘trickery for your mind’. Wade explains:

Be detailed about it […] Visualise it. It’s sort of like trickery for your mind. [If] there was a job I wanted – say I wanted to be in a music video – I’d think of things almost as if they were a memory. I would picture myself on the set, walking to a trailer, walking to the catering tables […] Just to place myself in the situation. You make it a reality in your mind […] Every time I’ve done that, I’ve always got anything that I wanted.

Regarding the pair’s motives, which the Factual Programme Guidelines section of Channel 4’s Producers Handbook also stipulates should be questioned, investigative journalist Charles Thomson points to the film’s glaring omission of the details surrounding Robson and Safechuck’s legal pursuit of hundreds of millions of dollars from Jackson’s estate:

Even the staunchest Jackson hater would have to admit that failing to mention both men’s massive, ongoing financial incentive to lie is dishonest and misleading. It’s like interviewing a pharma lobbyist for a news story on health and not mentioning that they’re a pharma lobbyist.

Jackson estate attorney Weitzman also pointed out that the mounting legal costs incurred as a result of their failed litigation against the Jackson estate could be a potential motive for Robson and Safechuck’s decision to participate in the film:

The Estate spent years litigating with Robson and Safechuck, and had four different lawsuits by these two men dismissed with prejudice. Today, Robson owes the Estate almost seventy thousand dollars in court costs, and Safechuck owes the Estate several thousand dollars as well.

Another portion of Channel 4’s Producers Handbook reads:

The truth must not be sacrificed for the sake of a more entertaining programme if this means cheating the viewer. It is never acceptable to represent something as having happened that did not.

In his letter to HBO, Weitzman points out that Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed and his team avoided contacting or interviewing anyone who could dispel the allegations made by the two men in the film:

The fact that HBO and its producing partners did not even deign to reach out to any of these people to explore the credibility of the false stories Robson and Safechuck told violates all norms and ethics in documentary filmmaking and journalism.

The journalists, reporters, critics and other members of the media who are reviewing and reporting on Leaving Neverland may very well believe that Michael Jackson is guilty of child molestation based on the stories told by Safechuck and Robson in the film. That might be their opinion, which they’re entitled to. But according to the dictionary, an opinion is:

A view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

So what is an opinion really worth if the holder of it has no factual foundation or knowledge to have formed it? If you want factual information, click here for everything you need to know about Wade Robson’s allegations.

When the Leaving Neverland film goes public, outrage is almost guaranteed to reach levels that have yet to be seen. And unless the team at the Estate of Michael Jackson has been secretly working 24 hours a day, seven days a week on a rebuttal documentary to give the public an alternate narrative founded in facts to consider (there is no indication that they have been) Jackson’s image and likeness could well be destroyed for good.

The Jackson estate recently announced that a Michael Jackson-themed Broadway musical was going into production and would debut in 2020. Exciting news for Jackson fans. However I would not be surprised if following the airing of Leaving Neverland, with no aggressive counter from Jackson’s estate, it gets cancelled. Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas currently hosts the Jackson estate’s joint venture with Cirque du Soleil, an epic theatrical production called MJONE. Ironically, this is the same production that Wade Robson begged and pleaded to direct in 2011. If the blowback from Leaving Neverland is strong enough, we may see the discontinuation of that show too.

Interesting note: In 2011, Wade Robson met with Jackson estate co-executor John Branca about directing the Cirque du Soleil show. Wade thought he had the job, and even spoke about it in an interview. However, Branca and Cirque ultimately picked someone else. Then, despite having met face-to-face with Branca two years earlier, Robson claimed in his multi-million dollar lawsuit that he had no knowledge of the existence of the Jackson estate until filing suit in 2013. Because of the statute of limitations, Robson needed to tell this particular lie to justify why he hadn’t filed suit earlier.

Then there is Sony Music, who controls all official Michael Jackson music and video releases. In December 2017 the company renewed its recording contract with the Jackson estate. When it comes time to do so again, we may see them pass.

Or, this could all blow over. After all, Jackson overcame the 1993 scandal and went on to sell tens of millions of albums, win awards, and perform to millions of fans around the world on tour. In 2005 Jackson endured a four-month criminal trial and completely biased media onslaught. After he was found not guilty, the singer went into hiding and then resurfaced in 2009 to sell 800,000 concert tickets in the space of a few hours. When Wade Robson announced his allegations against Jackson in an interview on national television in 2013, it felt like doomsday all over again. The following year, in 2014, Sony released Xscape. The album, comprised of eight unreleased songs, topped the charts all around the world, and even had a smash hit single: “Love Never Felt So Good”.

But things are different today. As I said to a friend just yesterday: I feel like the climate right now is perfect to sink the Titanic. There’s the #MeToo movement—and so there should be! There’s Surviving R. Kelly. There’s the downfall of Harvey Weinstein. But the mentality seems to be ‘let’s get them all,’ rather than to look into them all and determine which accusations are actually credible. It seems that, from the media’s perspective (remember, Michael Jackson was tried in a court of law and was found not guilty—only the media has convicted him) the bigger the head on the chopping block the better. All the media cares about is clicks, because clicks equals cash. And now they’re hiding behind the guise of legitimate causes and movements to assassinate the biggest star the world has ever known. It’s not journalism. It’s a witch hunt.

If you want to view Michael Jackson as a pedophile, you will. It’s easy to do. He has admitted to allowing children to sleep in his bedroom (which itself is the same size as a small two-storey house) and has been accused of child molestation on multiple occasions. He’s not the guy next door, was undeniably eccentric, and most certainly didn’t live a conventional life. But to anyone who has bothered to look into the allegations against him—and I mean really look into them—there is more than enough evidence to demonstrate that the pop icon has been a victim of extortion and of copycat false claims for the past twenty-five years. Yet despite the Los Angeles Police Department stating that Jackson should be presumed to be innocent, despite the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services twice investigating and clearing Jackson of wrongdoing, despite the FBI conducting a ten-year investigation into the singer in which no evidence of wrongdoing was found (click here to read the FBI’s 300-page file on Jackson, released under the Freedom of Information Act), and despite the cash-grab lawsuits of Jackson’s posthumous accusers being tossed out of court, the court of public opinion may be what defines this entire saga, and Jackson’s legacy.

As Michael’s mother Katherine Jackson warned her superstar son, the truth may not matter. Her prophetic words, once again:

People will always remember him the way they said he was, not the way he really is.


Damien Shields is the author of Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault—a book that details the King of Pop’s creative process and dissects the anatomy of his craftsmanship. The book is available in physical and digital formats via Amazon and iBooks.

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