Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland, which also aired on Winfrey’s OWN network, saw the host sit down with the two accusers featured in the documentary – Wade Robson and James Safechuck – and director Dan Reed.
The studio audience consisted of sexual abuse survivors, alongside their supporters and family members. Winfrey, who has previously spoken about being sexually abused when she was young, praised Reed’s documentary for depicting the reality behind sexual abuse.
“I know people all over the world are going to be in an uproar and debating whether or not Michael Jackson did these things and whether these two men are lying or not lying,” she said. “But for me, this moment transcends Michael Jackson. It is much bigger than any one person. This is a moment in time that allows us to see this societal corruption, it’s like a scourge on humanity.... if it gets you, our audience, to see how it happens, then some good would have come of it.”
Winfrey explained that children struggle to articulate abuse to their parents because they lack the language to communicate their experiences, as they have been “seduced and entrapped”.
Robson said that, as a child, he had “no understanding that what Michael did to me sexually was abuse. I had no concept of it being that.”
He added: “From night one of the abuse, of the sexual stuff that Michael did to me, he told me it was love. He told me that he loved me and God brought us together... anything Michael would say to me was gospel.”
“Michael drilled in you, ‘If you’re caught, we’re caught, your life is over, my life is over,’” Safechuck said. “It’s repeated over and over again, it’s drilled into your nervous system. It takes a lot of work to sort through that.”
Robson said that it was only when he had a son of his own, and began to learn about how children think, that he started to process his experiences through the lens of abuse.
Jackson’s family and his estate have publicly denounced the documentary, and branded Safechuck and Robson as “opportunists” and “admitted liars”. In a lawsuit against HBO, the Jackson estate called the documentary a “one-sided marathon of unvetted propaganda to shamelessly exploit an innocent man no longer here to defend himself”.
When Winfrey questioned Reed as to why he chose not to interview any members of the Jackson family, he replied: “This is a film that’s not about Jackson. It’s about what happened to Wade and James.” He added that no one in the family “disputes” that Jackson spent nights with young boys.
He continued: “What’s the journalistic value of interviewing someone who says, ‘Well, Michael’s a really nice guy, he would never do anything to a child.’? Especially when they have a financial, vested interest in smearing and discrediting these men.”
Robson and Safechuck both have lawsuits against Jackson’s estate that were dimissed but are under appeal. Robson said he wanted to get the attention of the estate, adding: “ With this horrible thing that happened to me, what could I do that could maybe turn it into something good?”
“Michael trained me and forced me to tell the lie for so many years, particularly on the stand, really traumatizing experiences for me that had a huge impact on the rest of my life,” he said. “I wanted to get on the stand again because now I’m able to tell the truth.”