Michael Jackson Estate Denounces 'Leaving Neverland' After Sundance Premiere

The new Michael Jackson documentary 'Leaving Neverland,' which details how the singer would allegedly prey upon young boys, premiered Friday (Jan. 25).

Michael Jackson performing

Image via Getty/AFP

Michael Jackson performing

Trigger warning: This story contains descriptions of alleged sexual assault that some readers may find disturbing.

The new Michael Jackson documentary, Leaving Neverland, which details how the singer would allegedly prey upon young boys, premiered Friday (Jan. 25) at the Sundance Film Festival.

In the two-part documentary, two men—Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 42, and their families—explain how Jackson befriended the boys during the mid-to-late 1980s and then sexually abused them during separate sleepovers at his Neverland Ranch. The alleged abuse endured for several years, and they swore to keep the encounters a secret.

After the documentary premiered to a standing ovation, Jackson’s estate released a statement slamming the documentary calling it "the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. The estate also called the victims “two perjures,” and added that Jackson “treated children with respect and did nothing hurtful” to them.

“The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago,” the statement concludes, “and treats them as fact.”

The documentary recounts both men’s experiences in detail, which include “incidents of masturbation, kissing, oral sex—at least once while Safechuck was sleeping—being forced to caress Jackson’s nipples, bending over for him while he pleasured himself, and being coaxed into painful anal sex,” according to the Daily Beast.

Reactions to the film have been split. Over the years, both men’s stories have been contradictory and many believe the documentary was meant to damage Jackson’s legacy. Many fans have reacted the same on social media and are attempting to discredit the documentary.

You can read social media reactions to the film below. Leaving Neverland is set to air on HBO later this year.

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