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As the premiere of HBO documentary Leaving Neverland — a reportedly disturbing two-part series exploring the alleged sexual abuse by late superstar Michael Jackson — draws closer, the two accusers highlighted in the film appeared on CBS This Morning to talk with host Gayle King.
Wade Robson and James Safechuck opened up to the host, revealing details of the alleged abuse they suffered as children while associated with the music legend. (Jackson’s family has vehemently denied all accusations, and his estate is suing HBO.)
Robson, now 36, and Safechuck, now 40, interacted with Jackson when both men were prepubescent boys, approximately 10 to 14 years old. The men claim that Jackson abused them “hundreds of times.”
After years of defending the singer, Robson first came forward with allegations in 2013, and Safechuck a few months later in 2014. Through the same lawyer, both men sued the Jackson estate, claiming that the singer had molested them when they were children, between the late ’80s and early ’90s. Both cases were dismissed in 2017.
On CBS This Morning Friday, in graphic detail, they described spending nights at Jackson’s infamous Neverland Ranch, a sprawling estate in California with rides, animals and other kid-friendly elements.
“That first night, Michael just kind of took us on a little bit of a tour,” said Robson. “And he said to me and my sister, ‘You can stay in one of the guestrooms or you can stay in here with me if you want. And my reaction was, ‘Of course, I want to stay with you.'”
The next morning, as Robson was set to depart with his family, he said he didn’t want to leave Jackson, and the singer allegedly didn’t want him to leave, either.
“I was devastated to leave Michael,” he said. “Michael was devastated for me to leave. He actually sobbed. So I got to stay. And so it was just Michael and I in Neverland for the next week… my parents allowed that.”
Then things escalated, according to Robson.
“One of the ways I remember it starting is Michael just sort of starting to touch my legs and touch my crotch over my pants,” he alleged. “It progressed to him performing oral sex on me, him showing me how to perform oral sex on him. A couple days prior to the abuse starting, he started touching me just in the sense of… hand on my leg, lots of hugs, kissing my forehead, rubbing my hand. So it’d been this kind of development of physical closeness that was happening already that felt like a father. It just felt amazing.”
“As Michael started doing these sexual acts, he started talking to me about, ‘God brought us together. We love each other… and this is how we show each other our love,” he said.
Safechuck described similar incidents with the King of Pop — alleging that Jackson taught him about masturbation. Like Robson, Safechuck claims that he didn’t fear Jackson, and the alleged abuse was done in an almost friendly or fatherly manner. He described Jackson’s manner as “tender.”
“He said I taught him how to French kiss,” said Robson to King. “And then it moves onto oral sex… it’s in the context of a loving, close relationship. There’s no alarm bells going off in your head or any thoughts like that. Really, it’s just, ‘I love this person and we’re trying to make each other happy.'”
“He said I was his first, but even as a kid, you don’t even know what that means,” Safechuck continued. “So you’re lovers and you’re best friends… you just feel really connected to someone, and you just love them intensely.”
The men say that Jackson “trained” them to not say anything about the supposed abuse, and Robson said that “he started telling me that if anybody else ever finds out, we’ll both go to jail, both of our lives would be over.”
Naysayers and Jackson fans attest that the men are coming forward now in hopes of getting money from the Jackson estate, but both men deny that’s their impetus, instead saying that they’re doing it for their younger selves and for any other boys the singer may have molested.
“Nobody fought for me as a kid, but I’m old enough now to fight for myself,” Safechuck said. “There’s still a bit of love and there’s still, it’s almost like a guilt, for saying the truth. Like I betrayed him. It’s like I still have that old wiring, that’s still there. So my relationship or my understanding of my relationship with him, it needs a lot of work.”
They still think there are other victims out there who haven’t come forward.
“I do think there are others out there, but I also don’t expect them to just come out now that we’re coming out,” Safechuck said. “It’s such a difficult thing to do, to come out. You have to do it when you’re ready.”
Jackson’s family denies all of the allegations featured in Leaving Neverland, restating that no concrete evidence has ever been brought against the singer, nor was anything found in a police raid on Neverland.
“I want to understand and know that this documentary is not telling the truth,” said his brother, Marlon Jackson. “There has not been one piece of evidence that corroborates their story, and they’re not interested in doing that.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
— With files from Adam WallisFollow @CJancelewicz
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