The Jackson family has unveiled a counter-documentary in response to Leaving Neverland, which has brought with it new allegations of sexual abuse against the late Michael Jackson.
Neverland Firsthand: Investigating the Michael Jackson Documentary has been made by director Eli Pedraza and was published on YouTube last week.
In it, friends, former colleagues and members of the Jackson family speak out in defence of the singer.
“Not in a million years did I ever see a child around Michael Jackson that looked like they had been distressed, hurt, abused,” says Brad Sundberg, Jackson’s former technical director, who stayed at the singer’s Neverland ranch on many occasions.
“[Neverland] was such a peaceful, safe, fun place.”
In Leaving Neverland, accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who both met Jackson as children, allege that he groomed and sexually abused them over a number of years.
Taj Jackson and Brandi Jackson, the singer’s niece and nephew, are also interviewed in the 30-minute film.
Brandi, who dated Robson for a number of years, takes aim at him personally, calling him ‘an opportunist’.
“He knows how to position himself into different situations that will benefit him in a financial way,” she says.
“He’s saying that he was in a relationship with my uncle, that they were in love, and that they were having a relationship, if you will. He’s saying that my uncle kept him from women, which is not true.
“We were just talking about how my uncle put us together. It would discredit the things that he’s trying to claim, and I find it fascinating that he thinks he’s able to just erase 10 years of his life.”
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The film, directed by BAFTA-winning British director Dan Reed, has been slammed by the family, who called it ‘a public lynching’.
It was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, in two parts with almost four hours of interview footage, and was screened on Channel 4 in the UK last month.
As result of the claims made in the film, Jackson’s music has been dropped from radio playlists around the world.