In Depth

Leaving Neverland: when and where to watch part two

Michael Jackson fans were outside Channel 4 headquarters protesting his innocence ahead of documentary

The second part of the disturbing new documentary about the sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson will air tonight.

Leaving Neverland, which features in-depth interviews with two men who claim the late singer repeatedly molested them as children, started last night on Channel 4 and will conclude this evening at 9pm.

It has prompted demonstrations outside the broadcaster’s base in Horseferry Road, London, from fans protesting his innocence, while radio stations have started pulling his music.

The four-hour documentary has received rave reviews, but critics have warned that it is not for the faint of heart.

“A work of extraordinary restraint,” Vox says. “It is not salacious or leering or opportunistic. There aren’t any twists. You know where it’s going from the start. At many points, the camera just quietly waits for the subject to formulate his thoughts and find a way to keep speaking. But the power is undeniable.”

Variety adds that “the sexual activities are described with unnerving candour, and one’s inevitable response is to recoil in horror at the predatory sickness they portray”, adding that the documentary “suggests that Jackson was a serial paedophile who came on as a protector of children”.

What does Leaving Neverland allege?

Wade Robson, now 36, claims he was abused by Jackson over a seven-year period, beginning when he was seven years old. Robson met the superstar when he was five, after winning a dance contest on Jackson’s 1987 Bad tour. Robson claims the so-called King of Pop introduced him to porn and alcohol two years later.

James Safechuck, 40, says he was abused by the singer from the age of ten after starring in one of his Pepsi adverts. Safechuck alleges that Jackson claimed to have performed oral sex on him when he was sleeping, and that they later had sex all over the singer’s Neverland Ranch, in California.

Both men offer painstaking detail to back their claims. In one scene, Safechuck reveals how “he loved jewellery as a pre-teen so the pop star would take him shopping and lavish him with gifts as rewards for ‘sexual acts’”, reports the Daily Mirror. He also claimed the singer “would line a series of doors with bells so they would be alerted to any potential witnesses”, says the newspaper.

What has the Jackson estate said?

The family of the singer, who died in 2009 of a drug overdose, say the claims amount to a “public lynching”. His brother Jermaine insists the late music legend was “1,000%” innocent, telling Good Morning Britain: “He was tried with all of these things… they had to sling him through the mud and he was cleared of all of this, so it’s nonsense.

“We’re living in a time when people can say anything and it’s taken as the truth.”

The family point out that Robson and Safechuck both testified on Jackson’s behalf when the family of Jordan Chandler launched a civil suit against him in 1993. The case was settled out of court.

Both Robson and Safechuck later changed their stories and filed suits against the singer after his death, but the cases were dismissed in 2017 because the statute of limitations had passed.

In a separate 2005 case, also involving allegations of child molestation, Jackson was found not guilty.

What has the documentary director said?

Four-time Bafta winner Dan Reed told The Hollywood Reporter that the Jackson family’s statements were “not consistent with having watched the movie”.

Reed says that he “did not characterise Jackson at all in the film”, instead focusing on “an account of sexual abuse, how sexual abuse happens and then how the consequences play out later in life”.

How can you watch it?

Channel 4 is broadcasting Leaving Neverland in two two-hour episodes, the first of which aired last night and can be watched on All 4. The second will be broadcast at 9pm tonight.  

Speaking ahead of the documentary, filmmaker Dan Reed said in a statement: “If there’s anything we’ve learned during this time in our history, it’s that sexual abuse is complicated, and survivors’ voices need to be listened to.

“It took great courage for these two men to tell their stories and I have no question about their validity.

“I believe anyone who watches this film will see and feel the emotional toll on the men and their families and will appreciate the strength it takes to confront long-held secrets.”

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