'Leaving Neverland’ leaves behind a number of questions (Merecedes’ J. Williams' column March 13)


In a two-night premiere, HBO released the incriminating documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” on March 3 and 4. Two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, whom originally denied Michael Jackson’s sexual abuse claims, are now reneging, claiming that the King of Pop physically violated them for years.
Directed by Dan Reed, “Leaving Neverland” was a weird rollercoaster of daunting dual testimony about how two young boys looking for fame found themselves in Michael Jackson’s bed. For the most part, the documentary was uninteresting and boring. But, when Robson and Safechuck went into detail about their adolescent sexual encounters with Michael Jackson, I cringed. When Safechuck twiddled with what were allegedly wedding rings, I was mortified.
But, most of all, I am perplexed. I have a lot of questions about this documentary, “Leaving Neverland.” Where were the experts or authentications? Not one child psychologist or therapist from some renowned university appeared in the documentary to support their behavior or accounts. Not one district attorney or investigator provided testimony or evidence from Jackson’s previous cases.
Not playing the blame game, but when it is OK to leave your child(ren) with an adult stranger? Even up until the end of the documentary, both mothers only recalled the good times with Michael Jackson. These women vividly remembered the nice wine cellar at Neverland, the trips around the world, and the house Michael Jackson bought them. But, they didn’t notice the inappropriateness of their small child sleeping in the same bed with a grown man. They were not defending his actions, but they were not illustrating a monster, either.
Did the Robsons and Safechucks turn a blind eye to the abuse so they can live the lifestyle of the rich and famous? Were these families willing to risk their child’s innocence to gain their child’s stardom?
People keep asking me, what’s the difference between R. Kelly and Michael Jackson? Here it is—Michael Jackson is dead. That man can’t defend himself. While his death does not completely dismiss these claims, it does make me question the motives of Safechuck and Robson. Why do the documentary now and not, say, a decade ago, when Michael Jackson was still alive?
R. Kelly is still alive and kicking, providing dozens of women the opportunity to confront their accuser. Other than the documentary, Michael Jackson accusers can only get justice by suing his estate. And even then, I feel like that was a scenario that Wade and Safechuck brought on themselves. If they were honest in 1993 when allegations against Michael Jackson originally surfaced, this could have all been avoided.
These are just some of the questions I wished Oprah would have asked during HBO’s after-documentary special.
“Leaving Neverland” is a one-sided story of two broken men. While I do believe something happened to those men, I am certain that we will never know the truth. If anything, I hope “Leaving Neverland” provided Wade Robson and James Safechuck another piece to their healing puzzle.
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