Wednesday 26 June 2019

Protest at Sundance premiere of Leaving Neverland documentary which alleges Michael Jackson molested young boys

Film features interviews with alleged victims of the King Of Pop.

Michael Jackson’s estate has hit out at the documentary (PA)
Michael Jackson’s estate has hit out at the documentary (PA)
A documentary alleging Michael Jackson was a paedophile attarcted protesters to its premiere (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy, file)

Keiran Southern

A documentary alleging the late King Of Pop Michael Jackson was a predatory sex offender attracted a small group of protesters to its Sundance Film Festival premiere.

Leaving Neverland features interviews with two alleged victims of Jackson, who said they were children when he groomed and molested them.

Signs in support of Michael Jackson are seen outside of the premiere of the Leaving Neverland (Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)

The Michael Jackson estate condemned the film as “an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in” on the superstar.

One of the men’s accounts is controversial because he previously swore under oath that Jackson had never molested him before changing his account in a 2016 lawsuit.

The film premiered at Sundance on Friday and pictures from the scene show about 25 protesters stood outside Park City’s Egyptian Theatre in Utah holding signs reading “Seek Truth” and “Innocent”.

Brenda Jenkyns who drove from Calgary, Canada stands with a sign outside of the premiere of the Leaving Neverland Michael Jackson documentary (Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)

One fan, Catherine Van Tighem, travelled from Alberta, Canada to join the protest.

She told Variety: “This film is not about giving a voice to a victim. The people that are featured in this film have already had their day in court and they have been legally denied.

“They were seeking financial gain and the case was dismissed … if Michael were alive today, this film would be considered defamation.”

A canine police unit walks in front of the Egyptian Theatre on Main Street before the premiere of the Leaving Neverland (Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)

Despite the controversy surrounding Leaving Neverland, the film received a standing ovation after its four-hour screening.

Directed by Bafta-winner Dan Reed, Leaving Neverland’s title references the Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County, California, where Jackson lived from 1988 to 2003.

Police raided the ranch in 2003 while investigating allegations Jackson had molested a 13-year-old boy.

The singer, one of the most influential and best-selling artists of all-time, was acquitted of all charges in 2005 following a high-profile trial.

Jackson died in 2009 aged 50 following an overdose of the anaesthetic propofol.

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