Michael Jackson's family calls the new HBO documentary 'Leaving Neverland' a 'public lynching' of the pop star

Leaving NeverlandBrenda Jenkyns and Catherine Van Tigem protest the film &quotLeaving Neverland" screening at the Egyptian Theatre at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.David Becker/Getty

  • On Monday, Michael Jackson's family released a statement calling the HBO two-part documentary, "Leaving Neverland," a "public lynching" of the late pop star.
  • Interview subjects in the movie allege Jackson molested young boys.
  • "Leaving Neverland" had its world premiere on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival.

 

HBO's explosive two-part Michael Jackson documentary, "Leaving Neverland" - in which interview subjects allege the late pop icon molested young boys - premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on Friday and instantly became one of the most talked-about movies of the fest. 

Now Jackson's family is firing back. 

On Monday, the family of the king of pop released a statement addressing the allegations in the movie.

"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 statement said. "Michael is not here to defend himself, otherwise these allegations would not have been made." 

Directed by British filmmaker Dan Reed, "Leaving Neverland" details Jackson's alleged relationship with two fans, Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck. Now adults, the two speak on camera about their experiences with Jackson. They allege sexual abuse by the pop star and speak about how it affected them as they grew older and had families.

On Friday, the Jackson estate issued a statement following the premiere of the documentary, calling it "the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death." (Jackson's family issued its statement Monday.)

"These claims were the basis of lawsuits filed by these two admitted liars which were ultimately dismissed by a judge," the estate's statement read.

Michael Jackson GettyMichael Jackson with 10 year old Jimmy Safechuck on a tour plane on July 11, 1988.Getty

In 2013 and 2014, respectively, Robson and Safechuck filed two lawsuits, each alleging that Jackson had abused them in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Both were dismissed in 2017. When alive, Jackson consistently denied ever abusing children.

The lead-up to the Sundance screening on Friday had Park City police prepared for an onslaught of protesters at the premiere. But on the chilly morning when the line into the Egyptian Theatre on Main St. in Park City, Utah began to form, there were only a couple of protesters to be seen.

Once the screening ended, Twitter exploded with reactions from people who watched the movie. And the sentiment on social media was that the allegations came across credibly in the film:

The Jackson family statement made a point to call out the media for the way it's portraying the singer.

"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," the statement read.

Read the entire Jackson family statement below:

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.

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 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. But 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 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.

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