PERHAPS it’s no surprise the Michael Jackson estate and his unwaveringly loyal brothers are going to such extreme lengths to discredit a bombshell documentary exposing the former King of Pop as a predatory paedophile.
After all, Wacko Jacko has been a £60million annual earner since his death, as the child sex abuse allegations against him have been, slowly but surely, edited out of HIStory.
Jacko photographed in Disneyland hotel room by James Safechuck in 1988 when he was aged nine
But that is finally about to change with next month’s broadcast on Channel 4 of Leaving Neverland, a powerful exposé telling in the most shocking detail the stories of two Jackson victims — Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
Just how panic-stricken Team Jackson are was revealed on Friday, when the estate filed a £76million lawsuit against HBO, the network screening the four-hour film in the US.
Prime target is the film’s British director Dan Reed who, like me, has been subject to death threats and daily online abuse since publicly going on record to call Jackson a paedo.
Today, in a shocking interview, Reed takes aim at the Jackson family, accusing them of changing their story on Michael over the years in order to protect their cash cow.
AFP – Getty Michael Jackson on trial in 2002
“It’s extraordinary, it’s unprecedented,” the disgusted filmmaker tells me. “I don’t understand why their first response is to vilify children who were sexually abused, instead of taking a more considered view.
“I don’t think that, in 2019, it’s a very good look.
“Michael Jackson passed away, but Wade and James are still alive and not happy to be silent any more.
“That’s the point — Michael isn’t the victim. Wade and James are the victims. Let’s keep that firmly in mind.”
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Rex Features Jermaine Jackson has hit out at the documentary and defended his brother
The singer’s brother, Jackson Five singer Jermaine, has been leading the charge against the film, even though I recently revealed that in 1993 he admitted there was “some truth” in the child sex abuse allegations.
Reed says: “I think there is little doubt that the family were aware of all these young boys spending the night with Michael — what did they think was going on?
“The family is very insistent that Michael is innocent and quick to denigrate these men who are coming forward with allegations of child sexual abuse, which I think is surprising.
“And I have to ask what the family know — did they look the other way because the dollars were flowing in?
James throws cash in the air in front of the singer
“Jermaine hasn’t watched the film. Will he watch the film? Because we’re actually not talking about rehashing historic allegations, we’re talking about completely new ones — you’ve GOT to watch the film.”
Jermaine recently told Piers Morgan on ITV’s Good Morning Britain that his brother’s “slumber parties” with young boys were innocent affairs where they watched movies together.
But Reed says in response: “Did Jermaine really think that was what was only done? What Jackson was doing was hiding in plain sight. He established a ‘normality’ of spending the night with kids and presented himself as the saviour of children when, in fact, he was destroying childhoods.
“I dare say your brothers know you better than most people. Did they really believe that?
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“Your discovery of this early interview with Jermaine suggests that Jermaine’s view might have changed over the years.
“It’s a tragedy because so many children were harmed by this man, and for neither the family nor the fanbase to even question whether there is any basis to dismiss the allegations out of hand as being an attempt to get money . . .”
I’ve now seen the film and it is simply impossible to not believe James, 40, and Wade, 36, and their devastated families.
Their accounts are purposefully graphic and detailed, including Wade, who met Jackson when he was just five, recounting how the singer demanded he retrieve bloodied evidence after a sexual encounter when he was 14 years old.
Jackson with Wade’s family in 1990, who trusted the singer with their son
Reed says: “Those routines described in the film point to a man who was very aware of the criminality of what he was doing and involved the kids in covering up his paedophilia.”
Does he think the Jackson family should take some of their share of the blame for what happened?
Reed says: “If they had a private conversation with Michael and said, ‘Look, this has to stop,’ then perhaps a lot of children would not have been hurt.”
I point out that when La Toya did briefly turn on Jackson in the Nineties she was ostracised from the family altogether.
AP:Associated Press Wade Robson and James Safechuck with director Dan Reed
Reed says: “It’s about money in the end, isn’t it. It’s about money and protecting the asset, the gigantic asset of Michael Jackson’s back catalogue.
“Jackson comes across as a very practised, experienced paedophile — the speed at which he seduces Wade is astonishing, the confidence he had — he clearly feels untouchable, he feels invulnerable and that speaks to the likelihood that he’s been doing it for a long time.
“La Toya made a very strong statement, a surprising statement, and then retracted it.
“But we know that Jackson did pay children off — most famously the Jordan Chandler case — so it does mesh with the facts we know.”
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The film reveals Jackson went through a “marriage” ceremony with James, complete with a ring and certificate, when he was just nine.
Reed says: “It was part of the pantomime of grooming this poor child. James was Michael’s sexual partner when he moved into his Neverland ranch and they had a long relationship. He was the little boy that Michael was seen with the whole of 1988 and 1989 during the Bad tour. I think buying Neverland must have given Michael a freedom to do as he wished — he had security guards, he had his own staff, he was no longer living with his parents and his family.
“That gave him a lot more freedom and I think the paedophilia ramped up.”
There are clear comparisons to the posthumous allegations against Jackson and what happened with TV presenter Jimmy Savile, which Reed hopes will encourage other victims to tell their stories.
Alamy Jackson’s Neverland ranch had its own station in the grounds
He says: “There are parallels because Savile was defended for so long by the establishment, and the BBC covered up Savile’s crimes.
“It just shows the incredible kind of pivot that can happen once one person stands up and tells their story in a credible way on a platform that’s credible.
“This is the first time Jackson’s victims have been able to speak out at length and in detail.
“And like a lot of child sexual abuse stories which involve grooming, it’s complicated.
Trusted by boys’ familiesBy Rod McPhee
THE documentary highlights similarities between the experiences of Wade and James at the hands of Jackson.
We look at elements of their accounts and get a disturbing insight into who the pop legend really was.
COVER-UP: Jackson told Wade to bin bloodied evidence after a sexual encounter.
SPLIT PERSONALITY: The singer asked Wade’s mum if she’d leave her son with him for a YEAR. She refused but he told her: “I always get what I want.”
SEXUAL FETISHES: Both men recalled Jackson’s love of having his nipples pinched while he pleasured himself.
MANIPULATOR: The singer set up once-in-a-lifetime treats, such as visits to film sets, to make the boys feel obliged to him.
JEWELLERY: Bought trinkets for James, telling store staff he had the same-sized hands as a woman he was buying it for.
OTHER BOYS: Claims have followed Jacko, one resulting in an out-of-court settlement in 1993 and another a 2004 trial, where he was acquitted.
“NORMALITY”: Jacko coerced into sexual activity, convincing them it was regular behaviour.
PERVERSE PRECAUTIONS: The boys slept in rooms that required multiple doors to be opened to reach them.
SIDE-EFFECTS: Wade, who has a nine-year-old son, feels “rage” when he “starts to have these images” of Jacko subjecting his lad to abuse.
PARENTS’ SEDUCTION: Jackson got the boys’ parents’ trust by letting them stay nearby in the Neverland guest house.
UNKNOWN James toured with Jackson in 1988 and 1989
“It’s the complexity and contradictory elements in the stories that require such a long treatment, because how do you explain that there’s this deep attachment between the abused and the abuser?”
Jackson fans are desperate to smear the two accusers, claiming Wade and James are financially motivated. But Reed says the two men and their families have “no financial interest” and were paid “zero, zero, zero” to appear in the documentary.
Supporters also point to the fact that Wade testified at Jacko’s 2005 trial that he had never been abused by the singer.
Reed responds: “He was in love with Michael still. He had a deep sense of affection and respect for him and would not be part of putting him in prison. That’s why he lied on the witness stand.
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“The horrific thing is that this criminal relationship that Jackson had with little boys had the character of a romantic relationship between adults, except it was criminal and totally inappropriate.
“But there was love and infatuation and sex and all the nice things that adults do together when they’re in a romantic relationship, except this was between a very powerful grown-up and a very vulnerable child. That’s one of the things we’ve got to confront.”
Reed is convinced Jackson raped “many more” young boys and would consider a film sequel if more men came forward to tell their stories.
He says: “Were there many others whose names we don’t even know? I do believe that’s the case.
Jackson pictured with nine-year-old Wade
“My hope is that this film will give people the courage to confront this very complicated crime and the courage to speak out — to tell the public, to tell their parents, their loved ones.”
Many major corporates, including Sony, continue to profit from Jackson beyond the grave, with new songs, albums and musicals, which could now be under threat. Reed says: “A lot of people depend on Michael Jackson for their income. It’s a personal decision.
“Do you want to take your child to a Michael Jackson musical?
“Do you want Billie Jean to be the soundtrack of your kid’s ninth birthday party when you know he was raping children at that age?”
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He adds: “If I hear another person say, ‘Oh but Michael didn’t have a childhood’ I think I’m going to scream.
“I was talking to Wade and he said, ‘You know what, I was abused as a child by men and I haven’t become a predatory paedophile.’”
Channel 4 will broadcast the two-part documentary, Leaving Neverland, on March 6 and 7.