Michael Jackson’s estate has responded after a biographer claimed that his newfound evidence could disprove some of the child sexual abuse allegations leveled at the late pop star.
Mike Smallcombe, a British journalist and the author of Making Michael, claimed that he uncovered historic testimony by Robson’s mother that contradicts Robson’s allegations detailed in Leaving Neverland. Smallcombe also claims that a part of Safechuck’s allegation is inconsistent with facts surrounding the construction of Jackson’s Neverland’s train station.
In the documentary, Safechuck claimed he was abused by Jackson from 1988 to 1992 – with some of the alleged incidents taking place in a train station that Jackson had built at his California ranch. However, planning documents uncovered by Smallcombe found that the train station hadn’t been built until 1993.
“The deficiency in Safechuck’s story is this,” he told The Mirror.
“Construction on Neverland’s train station didn’t start until the latter part of 1993, and it didn’t open until the first part of 1994, when Safechuck was 16.
“So abuse in the train station wasn’t possible if the abuse stopped in 1992, as he claims in his testimony, as it didn’t even exist then. There’s a two year difference.”
Now, Jackson’s estate has told The Root that the discrepancy is “one of several lies” that Safechuck has made in the film.
“Safechuck’s allegations that he was abused in a building before it was even built and two years after he said the ‘abuse’ stopped speaks for itself, said lawyers for the estate.
“Remember these are two individuals who filed lawsuits asking for millions of dollars after changing years of their under oath testimony and multiple denials that Michael ever did anything inappropriate to them. The lawsuits were dismissed but the accusers are appealing the dismissals. I believe for the accusers, the director and HBO this has always been about the money or ratings.”
Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed previously responded to Smallcombe’s comments and said there was “no doubt” that the date of construction had been wrongly mentioned by Safechuck.
“Yeah there seems to be no doubt about the station date. The date they have wrong is the end of the abuse,” said Reed on Twitter.
In an additional statement to NME, Reed said that these documents did not clash with the claims made in the film as sexual abuse is still alleged to have occurred after the construction of the train station – which is depicted in Leaving Neverland.
“James Safechuck was present at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Valley Ranch both before and after the construction of the train station there. 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.”
Responding to a number of stories on Twitter, Reed further denied that there was a “U-Turn” in the claims, and declared that the evidence still supports the allegations made in the film as the alleged abuse occurred both before and after the construction of the train station.
“1. James Safechuck was at Neverland both before and after the construction of the train station there,” wrote Reed. “The two still photos of the station shown in #leavingneverland were in fact taken by James, who is very clear that he was abused by Jackson in multiple places over many years.”
He added: “2. #leavingneverland also makes clear that sexual contact between James and #MichaelJackson continued until James Safechuck was in his teenage years. The station at Neverland is just one of the many locations where James remembers sexual activity taking place.”
Responding to Reed’s comments with The Mirror, Smallcombe described his comments as “embarrassing”.
“Because the story has been debunked, it appears Reed is now suddenly wanting to change Safechuck’s timeline himself,” he said. “Firstly, I’m shocked that he’s spoken on Safechuck’s behalf. And secondly, it’s embarrassing that he feels he has to now change the narrative of the film – which is that the alleged abuse stopped in 1992 – all because part of it has been disproved.
He continued: “That’s what happens when you take allegations like that at face value, and make no attempts to scrutinise and investigate whether they are true.”
Elsewhere, the director of the HBO/Channel 4-broadcasted documentary Leaving Neverland has hit out at Jackson’s estate for calling his accusers liars.