Wade Robson and James Safechuck detail a pattern of abuse they say they suffered at the hands of Jackson.
[This story discusses elements from both parts of HBO’s documentary Leaving Neverland.]
The low-key presentation of HBO’s documentary Leaving Neverland belies the weight of the allegations its subjects, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, make against Michael Jackson. The two men, who say they were sexually abused by the late music icon when they were boys, detail a pattern of behavior that allowed both them and their families to feel safe initially; an escalation of abusive behavior as the boys became teenagers; and a re-emergence in their lives when Jackson was taken to court over other allegations of abuse.
Jackson’s estate has denied the allegations made by Robson and Safechuck, and is suing HBO for $100 million, claiming the cable outlet violated a non-disparagement clause in a contract for a 1992 concert special. Here are some of the most shocking allegations in Leaving Neverland, which premiered Sunday night (March 3) on HBO and concludes Monday (March 4). Both parts are available for streaming on HBO’s digital platforms.
Jackson groomed families as well as his alleged victims.
Both Joy Robson, Wade’s mother, and Stephanie Safechuck, James’ mom, say Jackson for a time felt like another son to them. (Jackson met James when they starred in a Pepsi commercial and Wade when the boy’s Jackson impersonation led to an onstage appearance in Wade’s native Australia during the Bad tour.) He visited both families’ homes and hosted them at homes he owned, including Neverland Ranch. His childlike persona and, the documentary implies, the overwhelming nature of his fame helped convince the families that Wade and James would be safe in his company.
Neverland had multiple places for Jackson to take his victims.
As Safechuck tells it, Jackson’s Santa Barbara County property had several spaces where he took the boy for sexual encounters, from a room adjacent to the main house’s home theater to a bedroom above the theme park’s train stations. The hallway leading to the singer’s bedroom had a series of bells that sounded if someone was approaching.
Jackson sowed an us-against-them mentality in the boys.
Robson and Safechuck discuss at length how Jackson told them not trust other people — women in particular — and that no one would understand their “love.” He allegedly told the boys that they would go to jail along with Jackson if anyone found out what they were doing. Safechuck also says he and Jackson would practice “drills” about what to do if someone were to walk in on them.
Jackson’s favored sexual tactics.
Both men describe a gradual escalation from touching to more involved acts. They allege that Jackson preferred to have them kneel on hands and knees at one corner of his bed while he masturbated from the opposite corner while looking at them. Robson describes one such encounter where he would either have to look back at Jackson or in front of him at a cutout of Peter Pan. Both allege he had them perform oral sex on him and did the same to them; as they got older, he showed them graphic pornography.
Jackson and Safechuck got “married.”
One of Leaving Neverland’s most powerful moments comes about 90 minutes into part one, when Safechuck recounts how Jackson used the boy’s love of jewelry against him, including buying him a wedding ring to cement their commitment to one another. A visibly upset Safechuck shows the camera the ring and other pieces he says Jackson gave him as rewards for sex. They would go to jewelry stores on the pretense of buying something for a woman, Safechuck alleges, using his smaller hand as a guide for size.
Jackson counted on both for support in court cases.
Part two of Leaving Neverland spends a good amount of time on two court cases against Jackson. As boys and, in Robson’s case, as an adult, both said in legal proceedings that Jackson had never violated them. When Jackson was accused of abusing boys in 1993 and 2003, he repeatedly called both and pressed them to testify on his behalf. His lawyers subpoenaed Robson in the 2004-05 trial, where Robson again said Jackson had never acted inappropriately with him. He tells director Dan Reed he wasn’t ready, emotionally or psychologically, to speak the truth at that time.
It took years for Robson and Safechuck to understand they were abused.
As Robson put it, for years he believed that “I loved him and he loved me, and [sex] was something that happened between us.” Safechuck told his mother of the abuse in the days following the 2003 accusations against Jackson, when the singer was pressuring the family to speak on his behalf. Robson took longer to face up to the truth. Robson sued Jackson’s estate in 2013, but the case was dismissed after a judge found he hadn’t filed it within the statute of limitations.
This article originally appeared on THR.com.
Young Thug Joined by Travis Barker & Nate Ruess During ‘Saturday Night Live’ Debut: Watch
Actor Rami Malek hosted the Oct. 16 episode of SNL, where Thug made his proper debut as a musical guest debut after joining Megan Thee Stallion onstage to perform their “Don’t Stop” collab last year.For his second song, Young Thug slowed things down with a moving performance of “Love You More,” from his just-released second album,…
Actor Rami Malek hosted the Oct. 16 episode of SNL, where Thug made his proper debut as a musical guest debut after joining Megan Thee Stallion onstage to perform their “Don’t Stop” collab last year.For his second song, Young Thug slowed things down with a moving performance of “Love You More,” from his just-released second album, Punk. In addition to Barker, the rapper was also joined by Fun. singer Nate Ruess and fellow hip-hop artist Gunna. Keeping the pink color theme intact, Thugger donned a puffy pink fur coat with a lighter shade of pants to match.Young Thug and his label YSL Records’ Billboard 200-topping collaborative album Slime Language 2 came out in April. But his latest studio release, Punk, dropped on Friday through YSL Records/300 Entertainment. The new set features guest appearances by Post Malone, A$AP Rocky, Drake, Travis Scott, Future, Doja Cat and J Cole, along with late rappers Juice WRLD and Mac Miller.See Young Thug’s SNL performances below, and watch the full episode on Hulu here. The streaming service is currently offering a 30-day free trial, which you can sign up for here.
Lil’ Kim Says Nick Cannon Is Now Her Manager
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When asked about what’s next for her, Cannon’s name entered the conversation — since he’s apparently helping her make those decisions.”I just shot a movie with Nick Cannon,” she said. “Nick Cannon, people don’t even know, like he’s one of my best friends. We’ve been best friends for years … And we just shot a movie called Miracle Across 125th Street. I really did that movie for Nick, but I love doing movies.””It’s part of my next level,” she added. “Nick is convincing me. You know he’s my manager?””I did not know that,” the host replied. “Your manager has like 20 kids.””Leave my manager alone,” Lil’ Kim joked.(For the record, Cannon, who also keeps busy as a TV and radio host, is the father of seven children, four of whom were born in the last year. Earlier this month, he announced his plans to practice celibacy until 2022.)Lil’ Kim’s most recent album, 9, was released in 2019. Three of her albums — 2000’s The Notorious KIM, 2003’s La Bella Mafia and 2005’s The Naked Truth — reached the top 10 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.She has an upcoming memoir titled The Queen Bee that’s slated for a Nov. 2 release.Watch her discuss working with Nick Cannon in her hike-and-interview video below.
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