Channel 4 to air controversial Michael Jackson abuse documentary 4 years ago

Channel 4 to air controversial Michael Jackson abuse documentary

Leaving Neverland has been compared to Surviving R. Kelly.

Set to premiere at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, Leaving Neverland focuses on two men as they recount their experiences of allegedly being abused by Michael Jackson.

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The iconic pop star was first met with allegations of sexual abuse in 1993 and would face trial in 2005 after being charged with molesting 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo, whom he had previously befriended.

Jackson was subsequently found not guilty of all charges.

The two-part documentary - a co-production between Channel 4 and HBO - centres around James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who befriended Jackson at ages 10 and seven, respectively.

Now in their 30s, both men have contributed interviews to Leaving Neverland that "craft a portrait of sustained abuse" according to at least one review of the documentary.

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Leaving Neverland illustrates a complicated story as both men previously repeatedly denied that they were abused by the late star.

During the 2005 trial, Robson testified on behalf of Jackson's defence and continued his friendship with the singer as he got older. Robson was also involved in high profile Jackson-related projects, including participating in an MTV tribute show.

In 2013, Robson accused Jackson of molesting him. The lawsuit that followed was dismissed though the presiding judge did not rule on the credibility of the allegations.

The Jackson estate, meanwhile, has dismissed Leaving Neverland as "yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.”

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Documentary director Dan Reed has stood by his film.

"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," he said.

"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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Set to screen on Channel 4 in the spring, Leaving Neverland has drawn comparisons to the recent Surviving R. Kelly documentary.

A fresh criminal investigation has been opened since that series aired, with R. Kelly denying all charges levelled against him.