Michael Jackson‘s estate is currently suing HBO over Dan Reed’s controversial documentary, Leaving Neverland, and the satellite television network recently lost an attempt to have the lawsuit thrown out. But while the federal judge ordered the matter to arbitration, HBO lawyers from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and O’Melveny & Myers LLP appealed the decision via a short filing on Monday, Deadline reports.
In response, Jackson estate lawyer Bryan Freedman released a statement attacking the move.
“This bogus appeal is nothing more than HBO’s latest desperate attempt to cover up the truth about its shoddy journalism,” he said in the statement, also highlighting the network’s attempts to avoid public arbitration.
According to Freedman, the appeal is the “latest Hail Mary attempt” to avoid arbitration and is “more pathetic” than the others that came before it.
“If HBO truly wanted to avoid a judgment, it should have thought about that before it aided and abetted a one-sided documentary without any journalistic integrity and in which the subjects have a huge motivation to lie – namely the millions of dollars for which they are suing the Estate. Our client will never stop until justice is served.”
Leaving Neverland covers the accusations of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claim that Jackson molested them as children. Critics suggest that Reed made no attempt to cover other sides of the story and created a one-sided documentary meant to profit off of the King of Pop’s legacy after his passing. Others believe the documentary is an affirmation of the late pop star’s sexual attraction to children — an accusation that has followed him for a large part of his career.
“I wish there were more people in the world like Michael Jackson. He’s truly one amazing human being.” – Russ Ragsdale, assistant engineer on 'Bad' pic.twitter.com/iVkvreThlw— Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) October 18, 2019
According to Rabbi Shmuel Boteach, who became friends with Jackson thanks to the magician and psychic Uri Geller, the Jackson estate should issue a proper response to the abuse allegations, suggesting that they cannot simply be brushed aside.
Nevertheless, Reed stands by his film, admitting that the focus of his film was specifically focused on Robson and Safechuck’s stories. Per BuzzFeed News, he claims that the focus was on their story of abuse at the hands of Jackson, adding that he didn’t “feel any need” to include other people that didn’t have “direct knowledge” of Robson and Safechuck’s experiences. In the eyes of Reed, the “logic” of people suggesting he cover “the other side of the story” is flawed.
Reed said he did reach out to Jordan Chandler and Gavin Arvizo — who both accused Jackson of sexually abusing them in the past — but did not hear back from either man.