Friday night's screening of the Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland at the Sundance Film Festival generated the expected headlines -- as well as a clash of opinions.
The four-hour film alleges that Michael Jackson began sexual relationships with two boys, the older of whom was 10, in the 1980s.
- In the film, Wade Robson claims Jackson sexually abused him "for seven years," They first met in 1987 when he won a dance competition in his native Australia. He met Jackson again on a family vacation to Disneyland, which led to an invitation to the Neverland ranch, where the seven-year-old stayed for a week -- during which their sexual encounters began with Jackson telling the boy, "You and I were brought together by God. This is how we show our love."
- James Safechuck, a child actor who appeared in a Jackson soda commercial, was invited to join him in Hawaii for a Pepsi corporate function -- where the singer got the child to sleep in his room. Jackson later brought Safechuck to Paris, where, he alleges, "He introduced me to masturbation... That's how it all started." Back at Neverland, Safechuck said, he had sexual relations with Jackson in various locations including the pool and jacuzzi, where "it happened every day."
The film also maintains that his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley was to divert public curiosity in his lifestyle and that perjured testimony was entered in the child abuse case brought by Jordy Chandler, who later settled his suit against Jackson for millions.
Both Robson and Safechuck were introduced after the Sundance screening, and got a standing ovation. (New York Post)
MICHAEL JACKSON: The Family Responds
Michael Jackson's family has responded to the accusations made in the documentary Leaving Neverland.
In a just-issued statement, the family members "are furious that the media, who...chose to believe the word of two admitted liars...without a shred of proof or single piece of physical evidence."
That's a reference to Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege sexual abuse when they were age 10 or under -- and admitted to lying in court to protect Jackson from similar charges made by others.
Claiming that "people have always loved to go after Michael...an easy target because he was unique," the statement leans on the outcome of the trial where Jackson was "found to be COMPLETELY INNOCENT."
The family adds, "The creators of this film were not interested in the truth. They never interviewed a single solitary soul who knew Michael except the two perjurers and their families."
Angry that "the media are perpetuating these stories," the Jacksons close by stating, "The truth is on our side."