A documentary on Michael Jackson entitled “Leaving Neverland” recently caused a stir at Sundance Film Festival.
Jackson Family Calls ‘Leaving Neverland’ Doc a ‘Public Lynching’
The family of late pop icon Michael Jackson has denounced the new documentary “Leaving Neverland” as a “public lynching” after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
Jackson’s family issued a statement about “Leaving Neverland,” which will air as a two-part HBO series in March.
“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,” the official statement read. “Michael is not here to defend himself, otherwise these allegations would not have been made…
“Michael Jackson is our brother and son. We are furious that the media, who without a shred of proof or single piece of physical evidence, chose to believe the word of two admitted liars over the word of hundreds of families and friends around the world who spent time with Michael, many at Neverland, and experienced his legendary kindness and global generosity. We are proud of what Michael Jackson stands for.”
The documentary “Leaving Neverland” focuses on Wade Robson and James Safechuck, both in their 30s, who describe in the documentary how Jackson befriended them at seven years old and 11 years old, respectively, and allegedly according to the men, sexually assaulted them for years.
In their film review, Variety describes Robson and Safechuck’s appearance in “Leaving Neverland” as eloquent and self-possessed.
However, the Jackson family and Michael Jackson’s estate both stated that in a 2005 trial, Robson and Safechuck both stated that Jackson never molested them.
Lawsuits filed against the estate by the two men in 2013 got dismissed.
The statement by the Jackson family continued, “People have always loved to go after Michael. He was an easy target because he was unique. 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.
“Michael has always turned the other cheek, and we have always turned the other cheek when people have gone after members of our family—that is the Jackson way…
“The creators of this film were not interested in the truth. They never interviewed a single solitary soul who knew Michael except the two perjurers and their families. That is not journalism and it’s not fair, yet the media are perpetuating these stories.
“But the truth is on our side. Go do your research about these opportunists. The facts don’t lie, people do. Michael Jackson was and always will be 100% innocent of these false allegations.”
Many fans of Jackson and The Jacksons have asked the family and the estate to sue the filmmakers and accusers for defamation.
However, the family, friends or estate of dead people cannot sue for defamation because dead people legally do not have a reputation.
Deceased people only have a memory that is left behind after their passing.
Defamation is defined as the written or verbal ruining of someone’s reputation.
Public figures have to proof malice in order to win a defamation lawsuit, while non-public figures only have to proof negligence to win a defamation lawsuit.
Nevertheless, Jackson’s nephew Taj Jackson of the R&B group 3T, and son of Tito Jackson of The Jacksons, has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to produce a documentary that he says will proof his late uncle’s innocence.
In the 1990s, Michael Jackson signed Taj Jackson and his two brothers T.J. Jackson and Taryll Jackson to his MJJ Records as the group, 3T.
Taj Jackson said that his upcoming documentary would be “explosive” and will expose “media and showbiz corruption” and show how his famous uncle felt “betrayed, entrapped and extorted” throughout his illustrious career.
He said, “After having their abuse allegations dismissed by the court, the two men who are subjects in this film have turned to HBO, the UK’s Channel 4 and the Sundance Film Festival to tell their stories. I’m extremely disappointed in Sundance. Enough is enough. Michael Jackson died an innocent, vindicated man. It’s time to take a stand, and I’m fighting hard for the truth.”
In a matter of days, Taj Jackson’s GoFundMe campaigned had raised over $20,000.
Now a week into the GoFundMe campaign, the member of 3T has raised over $32,000 for his untitled documentary on his late uncle.
Fans and family members have not been the only ones expressing concern with “Leaving Neverland.”
Charles Thompson, a British journalist who won the Ray Fitzwalter Award for Investigative Journalism for exposing a pedophilia ring, also spoke out against the controversial documentary.
“Simply using the fact that somebody is dead as an excuse to publish unsubstantiated allegations about them is lazy, unethical and despicable,” said Thompson. “An ethical journalist will not publish or air allegations against a deceased person unless they can be proved to the same standard which would be required if the subject was alive able to sue.
“In my opinion, the sole reason a British production company and broadcaster have been able to make and air the show is because Michael Jackson is dead. And that’s simply not good enough.”
Taj Jackson believes he can bring a “unique perspective” in his documentary because he spent so much time with his uncle throughout his life.
“I was there at Neverland everyday for the 2005 trial,” Taj Jackson said. “I lived there. Not many people know what that was like and how much my uncle suffered during it.”