“I don’t believe these men are lying”: Michael Jackson’s friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach defends singer’s accusers

"There will have to now be a fundamental reassessment of the legacy of Michael Jackson, "

A rabbi and former friend of Michael Jackson has said he believes that the men who accused the singer of sexual abuse are telling the truth after watching controversial documentary Leaving Neverland.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, 52, spoke out against Jackson in an interview with Australian TV host Tracy Grimshaw on Tuesday.

The rabbi revealed that he was friends with the pop icon from 1999 to 2001, five years after the singer reached a settlement in the case of Jordy Chandler – who accused the star of sexual abuse.

Describing the $23 million settlement that Jackson paid, he said: “I didn’t know if to believe it or not. We didn’t know. What I did know was, that regardless of whether it was true or not, Michael could never again really be around children.”

Discussing Leaving Neverland, Boteach said that the allegations made by Wade Robson and James Safechuck were “devastating, painful, and ‘traumatizing.”

“I don’t believe these men are lying, and I don’t believe that the shame and guilt being experienced by their parents in general, maybe their mothers, in particular, is feigned,” he said.

“There will have to now be a fundamental reassessment of the legacy of Michael Jackson, in light of this documentary.

Jackson

Michael Jackson

“Because we’ve never heard allegations that were this explicit. We’ve never really seen the faces of the accusers as they make these allegations, and we’ve never really heard the family members who had to shoulder that pain.”

Boteach also singled out the moment of the documentary where it is claimed that Jackson often slept in the same bed as Robson and Safechuck when they were children.

“There will have to now be a fundamental reassessment of the legacy of Michael Jackson, in light of this documentary,” he explained.

“Because we’ve never heard allegations that were this explicit. We’ve never really seen the faces of the accusers as they make these allegations, and we’ve never really heard the family members who had to shoulder that pain.”

While a large group of fans protested against the broadcast of the film in London, recent weeks have also seen Jackson’s songs banned on numerous radio stations around the world, while the National Football Museum removed their statue of the ‘Thriller’ star. It has also emerged that Madame Tussauds will be keeping statues of the singer on display, and the Thriller Live musical will continue to run.

Earlier this month, Jackson’s nephew Taj confirmed to NME that he was working on a counter-documentary to dispute the claims made in Leaving Neverland. Jackson’s fans have also said that they plan to sue Wade Robson and James Safechuck for “sullying” Jackson’s memory.

Jackson denied any wrongdoing before he died in 2009.