The family of Michael Jackson have slammed the new documentary Leaving Neverland, calling it ‘a public lynching’.
The film, made by British BAFTA-winning director Dan Reed, pivots on interviews with two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege that were the subjects of sustained sexual abuse by Jackson when they were children.
But Jackson’s family have slammed the claims, releasing a furious statement.
“People have always loved to go after Michael. He was an easy target because he was unique,” it reads.
“But Michael was subjected to a thorough investigation which included a surprise raid of Neverland and other properties as well as a jury trial where Michael was found to be COMPLETELY INNOCENT.
“There has never been one piece of proof of anything. Yet the media is eager to believe these lies.
“We can’t just stand by while this public lynching goes on, and the vulture tweeters and others who never met Michael go after him.
“Michael is not here to defend himself, otherwise these allegations would not have been made.”
The four-hour film debuted on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival, with reports that many of the audience were left ‘shell-shocked’ by the footage.
The festival’s director John Cooper advised the audience prior to the screening that mental health professionals were on hand for anyone distressed by the content of the film, parts of which are said to be agonisingly explicit.
Jackson’s nephew Taj Jackson has also slated the allegations, tweeting:
My family and I have known Wade and his family since he came to America. Don’t tell me a 4 hour one sided hit job that you watched is more reputable than people who actually knew him and saw his interactions. This is all about money and the desperate need to be relevant again.
— Taj Jackson (@tajjackson3) January 26, 2019
However, in a Q&A session after the screening, Robson and Safechuck maintained that they have not been paid for their participation.
Defending the film, Reed told The Hollywood Reporter: “A four-hour piece, is that a tabloid? I didn’t characterize Jackson at all in the film. I think if you watch it you’ll have noticed that it’s a story about these two families, and Jackson is an element of that story. But I don’t seek to characterize him at all. I don’t comment on Jackson. It’s not a film about Michael.
“The film itself is an account of sexual abuse, how sexual abuse happens and then how the consequences play out later in life.”