Illustration by Rose Holstein

Head to Head: Michael Jackson's accusations should not be dismissed

HBO's documentary “Leaving Neverland” makes it apparent that the resurfaced assault charges against Michael Jackson shouldn’t simply be tossed aside. 

Allegations of sexual abuse have come to light once more for the former King of Pop. While Jackson’s trial in 2005 found him not guilty of these charges, it remains difficult to describe Jackson’s fascination with children as anything less than disturbing.  

The film centers around Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two of Jackson’s alleged sexual assault victims. In the documentary, Robson and Safechuck describe their alleged assault experiences in horrifying detail, painting a not-so-pretty picture of the pop sensation.  

In his later years, Jackson was known for having sleepovers with little boys at his Neverland Ranch. He claimed these slumber parties were not sexual in the slightest, but in what world would it be acceptable for a grown man to invite young boys to sleep in his bed? That alone should make anyone uneasy. 

Five boys, including Robson and Safechuck, who are known to have slept in bed with Jackson have claimed the star molested them. During the first investigation into one of Jackson’s relationships with a young man in 1993, the police photographed Jackson’s genitals to compare it with the accuser’s descriptions and found the two to match.

The case ended in a $23 million settlement, but separate accusations were made in 2003 where Jackson was indicted on several criminal accounts. In 2005 the case went to trial where the alleged victim and his brother both testified against Jackson, stating Jackson gave them alcohol and showed them pornography. A former household staff member also testified that she witnessed Jackson showering with Robson.

Critics of the documentary may point out that both Robson and Safechuck defended Jackson during the trials, which discredits their statements, but Robson said he was threatened by Jackson to lie under oath at the time.

Though some may also argue the men were only motivated by greed, neither received any compensation for participating in the film.

Many survivors of child sexual abuse hide or lie about their abuse because they were groomed to do so. Victims can have a twisted relationship with their perpetrator, feeling a mix of shame and love for their offender. 

I think when it comes to the subject of sexual assault, especially regarding the abuse of children, people tend to focus too much on finding concrete evidence. According to an article by Benjamin Rachlin in The New Republic magazine, “as many as 40 percent of youth victims of sexual assault show no symptoms, and many do not report at all.”

There were many warning signs that Jackson’s treatment of children was far from normal. He showered these chosen kids with luxuries, he separated them from their parents and he admitted to sharing beds with them. The boys have uncannily similar testimonies that seem too descriptive and too specific to have been concocted.

No matter how much you may love Jackson’s music, I think all the proof you need is evident in Jackson’s actions. How he behaved around children is enough to tell you something was clearly not right. 

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