Leaving Neverland, the documentary detailing the allegations of child sexual abuse against Michael Jackson, has certainly got many people talking.
It’s sparked some serious debate amongst viewers, with many die-hard Jackson fans claiming the documentary is very one-sided.
While the three-hour documentary is certainly a compelling, and in some part extremely difficult watch, there are some key aspects missing including testimonials from Jackson’s former staff members, other young boys Jackson was associated with and the lengthy FBI investigation into the child molestation allegations.
Because of these omissions, Jackson’s family, as well as many fans, have continually labelled Leaving Neverland “one-sided” and “biased”.
However the director, Dan Reed, has argued such omissions needed to be made in order to be able to focus on the specific stories of James Safechuck and Wade Robson.
Interviews with Jackson’s staff members
Testimonials from staff members at Neverland Ranch who previously worked in close proximity with the late singer, are not featured in the two-part documentary.
Melanie Bagnall was a security guard on Jackson’s estate for three years, and prior to the Australian release of Leaving Neverland, she claimed to Sunday Night that staff were “actively” complicit in covering up the alleged abuse.
The former security guard said she saw abuse first-hand on at least one occasion when Jackson was on a golf cart with one of the children he kept around him.
“There was a child sitting on his lap and he had his hands close to his (the child’s) genitalia. Like, cupping his genitalia,” she said.
“It was disturbing, it was alarming, a confirmation in a way.”
Bagnall, who feels a lot of guilt over her prior silence, believes the world “absolutely” needs to believe the victims coming forward.
The admission came after former maid Adrian McManus spoke to 60 Minutes, sharing horrifying details of what she claims to have witnessed, from children’s underwear floating in a jacuzzi, to a disturbing proliferation of Vaseline found lying around the ranch.
Meanwhile other former staffers have jumped to Jackson’s defence, with a former nanny telling ABC News in the US that she “never saw or experienced anything” like the allegations in over 12 years working on the estate.
The long-running FBI investigation
Files released after the singer’s death in 2009 revealed an in-depth FBI investigation into Jackson from as early as 1993 when CNN reports the agency began investigating a “possible federal violation against Jackson concerning transportation of a minor across state lines for immoral purposes (Mann Act)”.
Though the US attorney eventually declined to press charges, the agency continued to look into other claims against the singer.
The couple who ran the Neverland ranch from 1988 until 1990 were interviewed as part of the investigation, as was a social worker who travelled on an overnight train next-door to Jackson, staff and a young boy .
The social worker told agents she “heard questionable noises through wall” while on the journey and alerted the train’s conductor.
The case was closed in August 1994, however the FBI were known to have looked into the pop icon again in 2004 regarding a potential new victim.
The second investigation was dropped after the alleged victim refused to press charges.
LaToya Jackson speaking out against her brother
In 1993, LaToya Jackson called out her brother not once, but twice, for the alleged abuse of young boys.
At a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1933, MJ’s older sister said she “cannot, and will not, be a silent collaborator of his crimes against small, innocent children”.
“If I remain silent then it means I fuel the guilt and humiliation these children are feeling and I think it’s very wrong,” LaToya said, adding she had come across cheques for “very, very large sums” made payable to the parents of “these children”.
The now 62-year-old discussed the sexual abuse allegations further in an interview with NBC News, specifically referencing Michael Jackson‘s first public accuser, Jordan Chandler.
Referencing the cheques made out to what LaToya refers to as “the little boy’s parents” again, she claimed her mother, Katherine Jackson, was “outraged” by the monetary evidence.
LaToya also alleged the reason none of the Jackson family spoke out about the “truth” about Michael, was due to fears of being cut off financially by the pop king.
In addition, the ‘Night Time Lover’ singer stated her brother “would have boys over all the time”.
“They would stay in the room for days, then they would come out and then there would be another boy (would go in) and then he would bring someone else,” she said.
She then posed the hard-hitting question, “What 35-year-old man sleeps with little boys and stays with them for a week or two weeks or whatever? And sleep in the same bed.”
In later years, LaToya changed her tune on the allegations claiming it was her then-husband, Jack Gordon, forcing her to speak out against her brother for monetary gain.
Wade Robson dated Michael Jackson’s niece
Many members of the Jackson family have been conducting a series of interviews in order to defend MJ.
The late singer’s niece, Brandi Jackson, claimed Wade Robson is a “liar”.
Why exactly? Well, according to her, she and Robson dated for “over seven years”, but that information wasn’t included as “it would ruin his timeline”.
Tea time 🐸☕️
Wade and I were together for over 7 years, but I bet that isn’t in his “documentary” because it would ruin his timeline. And did I mention, it was my uncle, #MichaelJackson, who set us up? Wade is not a victim, #WadeRobsonIsaLiar
— Brandi Jackson (@BJackson82) February 11, 2019
Another member of the Jackson family fighting to defend his uncle’s legacy has been Taj Jackson, who has also said Robson is lying.
Branding Robson’s claims “ridiculous”, Taj claims the fact that it was his uncle who set up Robson and Brandi “throws off the whole narrative”.
“I think it’s ridiculous especially since my uncle Michael was the one that basically brought them together,” he said in an interview on Good Morning Britain.
“And so it throws off the whole narrative of Michael Jackson only wanting him [Robson] for himself or teaching him to hate women.”
“It’s something they’ve conveniently left out of the documentary because it coincides with Wade saying [the abuse happened] from the age of seven to 14.”
Other young boys Jackson was associated with
While Safechuck and Robson’s accounts of sexual abuse are certainly harrowing and graphic, many have questioned why there were only two men who were formerly close with Jackson who were interviewed.
Both Macaulay Culkin and Brett Barnes – who were both befriended by Jackson at young ages – have continually denied they were abused by the King of Pop.
So why weren’t they included in the documentary?
“I gave it some serious thought,” director Dan Reed told Business Insider. “In the end I knew that Macaulay and Brett had made statements consistently rebutting allegations that were made.”
Reed insisted he didn’t want to out anyone and believes it was made clear in Leaving Neverland both Barnes and Culkin “deny to this day that anything sexual happened” with Jackson.
In 2005, when Jackson was taken to court for allegedly molesting minor Gavin Arvizo, Culkin testified in Jackson’s defence.
When the then 24-year-old was asked if he’d ever been inappropriately touched by Jackson, he answered “never” and “absolutely not”.
He also branded the allegations made against Jackson “absolutely ridiculous”.
On the stand Culkin did, however, confirm he shared a bed with Jackson, but reiterated nothing inappropriate happened.
His parents were also aware and apparently “never really saw it as an issue”.
The accuser in the 2005 trial claimed the corridor to Jackson’s bedroom was alarmed, which Culkin confirmed was true.
“There was like a walkway kind of thing, where if someone was approaching the door, it would kind of like ‘ding-dong ding-dong’,” Culkin stated.
“When anyone would approach the room you’d hear this kind of… soft kind of alarm.”
Culkin reportedly remained close to Jackson until his death in 2009.
For support on child abuse you can call The Blue Knot Foundation on 1300 657 380.
Got a story tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Or sign up to our daily newsletter here.