Ever since it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January, Leaving Neverland — the documentary in which two men allege that Michael Jackson molested them over the course of several years — has been hugely controversial.
The film debuted on HBO in March, with the full support of Oprah Winfrey, and soon drew a huge backlash from both Jackson’s family and his fans. Those on the pro-Jackson side have questioned the credibility of accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck, with some poking specific holes in their stories.
Now, the director of Leaving Neverland, Dan Reed, is forcefully defending his film.
“It certainly hasn’t cowed either me or HBO,” Reed told Deadline in an interview published Thursday — in reference to criticism, lawsuits, and even death threats. “I stand by every second of the film and so does HBO.”
“What they both experienced was a gradual psychological and physical seduction,” Reed went on to say. “Jackson did not violently, brutally, break these little boys. He took his time, and he seduced them, in the way that an adult would seduce another adult, but — and this is the most horrifying thing — he treated these little children as you would a sexualized adult.”
Jackson’s family has filed a lawsuit against HBO, claiming that the network violated a non-disparagement agreement that it reached with Jackson when he performed a concert on the channel in the early 1990s. Jackson died in 2009.
In April, The Sun reported that a Jackson biographer had alleged that a train station at Jackson’s Neverland estate wasn’t built until 1994, putting into question allegations by Safechuck, one of the accusers, that he had been molested in that station years earlier. Reed responded on Twitter that “the date they have wrong is the end of the abuse.”
Reed did not address the train station allegation in the Deadline story.
Earlier this week, per The Inquisitr, a former bodyguard of Jackson’s said that a new documentary will “ruin” Dan Reed’s career.
Matt Fiddes, who worked for Jackson for years, has backed a film called Michael Jackson: Chase The Truth. The film purportedly alleges, among other things, that Jackson had way too many guards and other employees around for him to have ever been left alone with children. Fiddes posted a clip from the film to his Instagram feed earlier this week. The clip addresses the train station alibi, as well as other supposed holes in the Reed documentary’s narrative.