During a recent interview with The Jewish Chronicle, Rabbi Shmuel Boteach spoke about his friendship with the late Michael Jackson, who he met through magician and self-proclaimed psychic Uri Geller. According to Boteach, Jackson was "way too reclusive" before receiving a copy of Kosher Sex from Geller, which appeared to break the "Smooth Criminal" singer out of his shell.
Boteach also touched on the accusations of sexual assault covered in the controversial HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland. While many Jackson supporters have attacked the film as a dishonest cash-grab, Boteach claims that it means his legacy must be reassessed "in the light of these serious allegations."
"The Michael Jackson estate needs to respond properly, and we cannot simply dismiss what the two men [who allege Jackson preyed on them when they were children] said."According to Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed, there were two things in particular that drew him to the story and pushed him to take on the project, NPR reports.
"It's the complexity that drew me into wanting to really tell the story, which is that in an abusive pedophile relationship there is both love, affection, mentoring, friendship, caring — and there is sexual abuse," he said. "Those two things coexist."
As The Inquisitr previously reported, the Jackson estate's lawyers, John Branca and Howard Weitzman, have been publicly critical of Reed's film. In particular, Branca suggested the move is one-sided and presents testimony as fact. He also accused Reed of having no interest in talking to any other person close to the case for another perspective.Branca also said that Jackson "will forever pay the price" for his success, Variety reports.
"There's a large segment of the press that doesn't care whether Michael is innocent or guilty because it's not controversial enough," he said, adding that he believes this is a form of racism.
Jackson's former bodyguard, Matt Fiddes, has been one of his most vocal defenders following the sexual abuse allegations. He believes that fans of the late pop star should stick together and continue to fight to prove Jackson's innocence. He was featured in the film Michael Jackson: Chase the Truth, which seeks to discredit the allegations of Wade Robson and James Safechuck — the two figures spotlighted in Leaving Neverland.
Fiddes has also spoken out about the effect of the 2005 trial Jackson faced for alleged sexual abuse. Although Jackson was acquitted, Fiddes claims that the pop star was never quite the same and became overcome with paranoia.