‘Leaving Neverland’ director thinks more “victims” of Michael Jackson will come forward

"I believe he sexually exploited a good many more"

The director of HBO’s Leaving Neverland has said he thinks the that more “victims” of Michael Jackson’s alleged abuse will come forward.

The film, which will air in the UK on March 6 and 7, focuses on allegations made by two men that claim the late pop star sexually abused them as children. Both brought civil suits against Jackson’s estate following his death, which were thrown out by a judge in 2017, who ruled the estate could not be held liable for the singer’s behaviour.

Speaking to NME about Michael Jackson’s toxic legacy, the director of the film, Dan Reed, alleges Jackson may have “sexually exploited a good many more” victims, saying that he thought Jackson used fame and “garish tabloid myths” to his advantage in order to conceal the truth.

Reed said: “Michael Jackson had unlimited power and unlimited wealth. Children looked up to him. And he exploited that to the hilt. In James’ and Wade’s cases, that sexual abuse lasted several years. I believe he sexually exploited a good many more little boys in his paedophile career.

“I think [more] will [come out], eventually, yeah. As the Michael Jackson fans say: ‘lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons’. And that’s exactly what’s happening here. Sooner or later, it will come out.” 

Speaking about the timing of the documentary, which also coincided with the recent documentary revealing more allegations against singer R Kelly, Reed said he believed people are starting to take allegations against people in power “more seriously.”

‘Leaving Neverland’ director Dan Reed

He continued: “It does seem like a crest of a wave. You’ve got Savile, you’ve got #MeToo. People are beginning to take the abuses that powerful, wealthy, influential people carry out much more seriously. It’s gonna become harder, I hope, for people to use their position and their power and their wealth to target vulnerable people and do dreadful things to them.

“You can’t get away forever – no matter how powerful or rich you are – with molesting little kids. Someone will eventually catch up with you. And that sends a message, I hope, to all the paedophiles out there.”

Reed also added that he believed Jackson used the media to his advantage to normalise behaviour that some were already finding uncomfortable in order to “hide in plain sight.”

“I think it is a smokescreen, and I think Jackson took advantage of all of the garish tabloid myths about him. It meant that he didn’t have to abide by normal standards of behaviour. So he could hide in plain sight; constantly being seen holding children’s hands.

“Or he could say, ‘I love sleeping with little boys; it’s a beautiful thing’. And then people go, ‘Oh, he didn’t have a childhood – he was so innocent and he just wants to help children’, which is utterly bizarre, knowing what we know now. That’s the breath-taking cynicism of it, and the extent to which this lie was swallowed by public and parts of the press. It’s astonishing.”

Michael Jackson’s family have denied the allegations. Appearing on CBS This Morning again earlier this week. Jackson’s brothers Tito, Marlon, and Jackie, and his nephew Taj discussed the documentary and the claims featured in it.

Wade Robson and James Safechuck, the accusers at the centre of the film, say Jackson sent them “love letters”. Taj showed host Gayle King some of the notes he had received from his uncle, which featured sentiments of love and pride. “My uncle gave letters like that all the time to people that he cared about,” he explained. “There’s nothing salacious about it.”

He added that he “grew up” attending Jackson’s “sleepovers” with children. “For me, it wasn’t odd,” he said. “To the outside world, yes, I think it can be odd. I mean, I’m not oblivious to what it sounds like. But when you’re actually there in that atmosphere and you’re around it, and you’re watching movies with his kids, it’s very innocent.”

Taj described Jackson’s “naïveté” as “his downfall”, saying he “didn’t have that bone in his body to look at” the sleepovers in the same way as the rest of the world.

The documentary is due to air in the UK on March 6 and 7 and you can find out more about how to watch the documentary here.