“Leaving Neverland” premiered last month on HBO. The doc about child abuse allegations against Michael Jackson caused a huge debate about the pop icon’s legacy. There have also been reports that due to alleged inconsistencies with the accusers, HBO removed the doc. The network is denying the reports.
The channel told Complex, “That report is untrue. ‘Leaving Neverland’ is available on HBO through April 16th and then will continue to be available on HBO NOW and HBO GO,” HBO told Complex. “It is now the second most watched [documentary] on HBO in 10 years having reached 7.5 million people for Part 1.”
The online rumor started due to James Safechuck saying he was assaulted in a room above Neverland’s train station between 1988 and 1992. However, Michael Jackson biographer Mike Smallcombe reported that construction of the train station didn’t begin until 1993 and did not open until 1994. See his tweet below:
Dan Reed, the filmmaker of “Leaving Neverland” wrote in response to the tweet, “Yeah there seems to be no doubt about the station date. The date they have wrong is the end of the abuse.”
In 1993, Michael Jackson was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy named Jordan Chandler. In January of 1994, he reportedly settled for $23 million. The accuser’s father committed suicide in 2009, five months after the singer died. Jordan Chandler reportedly has never come forward about the allegations and supposedly lives outside of the country. In 2017, when Wade Robson, a choreographer who is featured in “Leaving Neverland,” accused Michael Jackson of sexual assault—even though he’d said in the past the singer didn’t assault him—there was a hunt to find Chandler. According to The Daily Mail, he left the U.S. to avoid investigators.
In 2003, Michael Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to a 13-year-old boy. He was ultimately acquitted of all charges. Robson testified at the 2003 trial, but James Safechuck, the other person featured in “Leaving Neverland,” did not.
Many people have been saying the documentary is untrue, including Brett Barnes, who said he knew Michael Jackson when he was child. According to TMZ, the film “implies Jackson molested him as a boy. As for why Barnes thinks this … Wade Robson — one of the singer’s well-known alleged victims — claims in the doc, Barnes ‘replaced him.’ The film then shows Michael and Brett together on tour. Thus, the insinuation.”
Barnes testified at Michael Jackson’s criminal trial in 2005 and said he was never assaulted by him. He also tweeted this in January.
Michael Jackson was acquitted of all charges.