In Leaving Neverland, the controversial documentary about Michael Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse of young boys, Wade Robson and James Safechuck describe being “pushed out” of Jackson’s affections after a few years.
Archive images show the two boys who replaced them: Macauley Culkin and Brett Barnes.
Culkin, who became globally famous with the Home Alone film series, has consistently denied any sexual contact with Jackson. But who is Brett Barnes?
According to writer and journalist Diane Dimond, in her 2005 book Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case, Jackson and Barnes first met in 1987 when the latter was five years old.
Soon afterwards, Barnes began to make trips to the Neverland Ranch both with and without his family present.
Barnes has since shunned the limelight, and is believed to reside in Australia. Along with Culkin and Robson, however, he did testify at Jackson’s 2005 trial in support of the singer.
An unverified Twitter account, with the handle @IAmBrettBarnes and a location set to “Melbourne, Australia”, continues to tweet a consistent defence of Jackson, denial of any sexual contact with the singer, and criticism of Leaving Neverland.
So people are getting their facts from a movie now? I wonder how they feel about the documentary showing the great alien invasion of ‘96. I think it was called Independence Day.— Brett Barnes (@IAmBrettBarnes) January 27, 2019
According to TMZ, Barnes is also considering a lawsuit against HBO, for his portrayal as a victim of sexual abuse. The disclaimer that ends the film – “Macaulay Culkin and Brett Barnes have consistently said they never had any sexual contact with Michael Jackson” – is, in Barnes’s view, not sufficient.
In 1993, when the family of Jordan Chandler first accused Jackson of abuse, the 11-year-old Barnes, with Robson, appeared in front of the media. Barnes said that Jackson “kissed you like you kiss your mother… It’s not unusual for him to hug, kiss and nuzzle up to you and stuff.”
Director Dan Reed told Business Insider that he gave “serious thought” to approaching Barnes, but decided not to.
“In the end I knew that Macaulay and Brett had made statements consistently rebutting allegations that were made. I'm not in the business of outing anyone.
“I think we make it very clear in the film that they deny to this day that anything sexual happened and I'm not about to try to change their minds about that.”