Friday 20 September 2019

Leaving Neverland director addresses alleged discrepancy in James Safechuck's claims against Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson and James Safechuck, then aged 10, in 1988 on Jackson’s private plane. Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images
Michael Jackson and James Safechuck, then aged 10, in 1988 on Jackson’s private plane. Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed has responded to claims that James Safechuck made an error in his sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson.

The documentary, which aired in the US and across the UK and Ireland last month, features interviews with Safechuck and Wade Robson, who both allege they were abused by the late singer, as well as members of their families.

The men, now aged 40 and 36 respectively, claim they were abused by Jackson on numerous occasions and at various locations when they were children.  The Michael Jackson Estate vehemently denies the allegations.

However, Michael Jackson biographer Mike Smallcombe claims there is an error in Safechuck's timeline of events, specifically relating to his claim that he was abused at Neverland's train station.

From left: Wade Robson, director Dan Reed and James Safechuck
From left: Wade Robson, director Dan Reed and James Safechuck

In his lawsuit against Jackson's estate, Safechuck claims he was abused between 1988 and 1992. 

In the documentary he claims he was assaulted in an upstairs room of the train station.  However, Smallcombe shared construction plans on Twitter of the train station, which show that it was approved for construction on September 2, 1993 and was opened in 1994.

Wade Robson, James Safechuck, Oprah Winfrey on After Neverland
Wade Robson, James Safechuck, Oprah Winfrey on After Neverland

Leaving Neverland director Reed responded to the tweet by saying, "Yeah there seems to be no doubt about the station date.  The date they have wrong is the end of the abuse."

Reed later released a statement to NME saying that the abuse is also alleged to have happened after the construction of the train station.

"James Safechuck was present at Michael Jackson's Neverland Valley Ranch both before and after the construction of the train station there," he said.

"The two still photographs of the train station shown in the documentary were taken by Safechuck and provided to the film-maker by him.

"Safechuck's testimony in the film is that he was abused by Jackson in multiple places over several years, into his teens."

Smallcombe also alleges that Wade Robson was lying in the documentary when he said his family travelled to the Grand Canyon for several days and left him alone with Jackson at Neverland.

He claims Wade's mother Joy testified "under oath in a deposition in 1993/1994 in relation to the Jordie Chandler case" that Wade had travelled to the Grand Canyon with his family.

Speaking to NME, he said, “These are two extremely detailed and key stories in the documentary – especially in the case of Wade Robson – which have been provably fabricated.

“And while this doesn’t categorically rule out that Jackson abused them, it does make you wonder, if they’ve fabricated these stories, what about the rest?”

Read more: 'She needs to work on her own issues' - Michael Jackson accuser James Safechuck addresses relationship with mother in revealing Oprah interview

'It’s almost like they see a blank cheque' - Michael Jackson’s family speak out against controversial documentary Leaving Neverland 

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