A Steep Price
This is the second article in a series of four about “Leaving Neverland”, a documentary that alleges Michael Jackson sexually molested two men. However, there are some new troubling facts that have come to the surface that could prove that Jackson was innocent all along….
“Anybody who says they are a good liar obviously is not, because any legitimately savvy liar would always insist they’re honest about everything.” Chuck Klosterman
Most people go throughout their entire lives without being convicted of anything more than a traffic ticket in traffic court. However, Stephen Avery is the exception to that rule. He found himself facing over thirty years in prison for a rape charge. A charge that he vehemently denied. Avery spent ten years in prison when the local law enforcement agency tried to show the Sherriff office that they had DNA evidence to prove they had the wrong man in prison. Despite this new information, Avery spent another eight years behind bars.
After eighteen years, he walked out of prison a free man, with his conviction overturned, thanks to DNA evidence. Exonerated from the crime of rape, he was looking forward to starting his life over again, getting married, and working for his family business.
Until a woman named Theresa Halbach stepped into the picture. Working as a photographer, she stepped into Avery’s world and was found dead on Avery’s property. Soon afterwards, he was charged with her murder.
The average person would have never heard of Stephen Avery or Theresa Halbach if it weren’t for one thing: a documentary. Making A Murderer had many on the edge of their seat as it went through the details of the case from the defense perspective. With the use of documentary format and presenting the defense case better than the defense did at the actual trial, most viewers walked away believing that Stephen Avery was an innocent man serving time once again for a crime he didn’t commit.
After viewing Making a Murderer on Netflix, five hundred thousand people signed a White House petition asking the President to investigate the case. Even though murder is a state charge and there is little the federal government can do, five hundred thousand people signing a petition is a huge response for anything, let alone a Netflix documentary.
The response to Making a Murderer was huge, especially for Netflix who profited handsomely off airing the documentary on their platform, despite the fact the prosecution and Halbach’s family was upset in how they were being portrayed. The prosecution was adamant that the filmmakers deliberately left out information that proved Avery was guilty and only elaborated on testimony and evidence that excluded him. The other side contested this furiously because they believed it was one-sided and left some alarmingly important details that pointed to Avery’s guilt. Watching the documentary was like watching Avery’s side put on a defense while the prosecution goes out for lunch….and just never comes back.
Does any of this sound familiar?
It’s downright deja’vu on steroids in the case of Michael Jackson in the controversial documentary Leaving Neverland, albeit with some distinct differences. In Michael’s case, it’s the defense that goes out for lunch and never comes back, but the State isn’t prosecuting this case any longer. They lost that fight in 2005 with Jackson’s acquittal. This time, the prosecution is none other than Dan Reed with you, the viewer, as the jury.
It’s clear from the beginning of the film that Dan Reed wasn’t going to give Jackson a fair shake, refusing the Estate even the right of reply. Reed offers nothing in terms of new evidence, and simply hashing the same claims we’ve heard for years. “But children have shared his bed!” The film practically screams this the entire time as you go on a journey of a distinct pattern of “abuse”. We learn that simple things have turned sinister when Dan adds the right lighting, a violin here and there, and a few drone shots to really hammer the point home.
In Leaving Neverland, simple faxes with no sexual overtones become “love faxes”. Gifts that the entertainer would purchase for nearly everyone he encountered became “grooming attempts”. Silly nicknames that Jackson would eventually give his own children became “lover pet names”. Even a loan that Jackson eventually forgave from one of the accusers became “hush money”. Mind you, if the parents didn’t know of the abuse until just a few years ago, then how could the loan be “hush money”? Just what were they being quiet about? When Jackson did call the accusers, it was “grooming”. When Jackson didn’t call them, it was “emotional abuse”. In the end, Robson and Safechuck states that they were replaced by Brett Barnes and Macaulay Culkin, who fiercely and unequivocally denied any sexual abuse.
Would it make sense to anyone that if Jackson were having sex with these boys, and according to their claims, were fulfilling every sexual wish that Jackson expressed, for him to swap them out for two boys who Jackson did not touch in any way? Why would Jackson switch two boys who would eagerly have sex with him for two boys who he wasn’t having sex with?
Dan Reed is asking a lot from the viewer. Never ask questions. Don’t think too hard. This is my truth. With the absence of actual evidence, the viewer is asked to view the world though the eyes of an alleged pedophile. Dan Reed never asks the audience, “Is Michael Jackson a pedophile?” He tells you that. Drone shots and all.
The accusers put on a bizarre performance with their dead pan deliveries as they talk about extremely graphic sexual abuse. Some viewers on Twitter complained that despite the shocking testimony, they grew sleepy and could barely keep their eyes open. It left many to wonder, “Where is the emotion? The anger? The pain?” There is a scene where Stephanie Safechuck is sitting on a chair telling us that she snuck up to the door where on the other side of that door, her son and Michael Jackson were. She makes these claims, curiously with a smile on her face. Any rational parent with the belief that someone may be harming their child behind a closed door, would certainly not sneak up like a cat burglar, trying to listen in. The door would have flung off the hinges for a rational parent, but this is not the case with James’ mother. Her claims and actions, along with Wade Robson’s mother are just downright bizarre.
It’s clear early on that Jackson will even take the blame for the parents terrible lack of judgment. They used the very convenient excuse of being “groomed” by Jackson, while accepting his generous gifts. Perhaps they felt as if they’ve absolved themselves of any wrongdoing and simply look to blame Jackson for a host of sins, but Dan Reed never looks to indict the parents who were on the clock for the entire episode. It solely looks to try and incriminate Jackson for a litany of deeds, which should have alarmed the viewer that there is something seriously wrong here. Indicting Michael absolves the parents of their sins. Their greed. Their desire for their kids to be stars. To never give this lifestyle up at any costs, including their own flesh and blood.
In order to buy this story, you have to believe that either these parents were so greedy, negligent, callous, and calculating that they delivered their child to a pedophile because they fell under some grooming spell, or that they trusted Jackson completely and know that he is not a pedophile and are just saying these things to get money.
The story that Wade and James have told in their lawsuit is very different than the story they tell in Leaving Neverland. The claims in the documentary are more salacious and exaggerated. There are some serious issues with their credibility here, along with the director who has been rightfully called out for manipulating footage. The once four-hour long documentary shown in the United States now has a run time of 3 hours and 15 minutes, with the scenes that have been discredited are now removed. No explanation needed. We know why he removed these problematic scenes. They simply didn’t happen.
For instance, there was one scene where Mark Geragos appeared to be threatening witnesses against coming forward with their accusations against Michael. When a viewer approached Geragos on Twitter trying to shame him, he informed the misguided viewer that the footage of his “threats” was indeed about a case in which Jackson was illegally wiretapped. Those individuals responsible served jail time, however, there is no word from Reed nor an apology. The footage simply vanishes.
We are never told about the pending lawsuits against Jackson’s estate and companies that the two “victims” have, despite a few media reports of this. We are never told about Wade Robson’s relationship with Brandi Jackson, Michael Jackson’s niece, during the same period he was supposedly molested by Jackson. By having a girlfriend, it destroys a few narratives that this documentary is trying to convey. One being that Jackson tried to keep Wade away from girls.
“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.” Dorothy Allison
Stephen Avery could very well be a guilty man, but a documentary was able to convince well over half a million people that he was innocent. From your next-door neighbor to celebrities, it seemed as if everyone were ready to take up the banner of Stephen’s innocence. Many were absolutely convinced the wrong man was behind bars and took steps to try to correct this. It was a dream come true for any convicted criminal, to have so many people take up your cause while behind bars. Innocence or guilt be damned. People were willing to gamble their chances on watching a one-sided documentary on letting a man who very well could be a murderer out of prison because they were confident in his innocence.
Those who sat on Stephen Avery’s jury will tell you a completely different story. Theresa Halbach’s family, who was present for every single day of the trial could as well. It was a story they knew intimately, and they are confident that the right man is behind bars. Many of them are completely dumbstruck that a documentary was able to garner such a response.
The same happened with Michael Jackson. With radio stations pulling his music off the air and others afraid to even speak up in his defense for fear of the mob, people seem to be pretty sure that Michael Jackson is a pedophile without a shred of evidence to prove it. Not one shred.
In case you have forgotten, Michael Jackson was under a ten-year FBI investigation, along with private investigators following him and even being wiretapped. There was no way for his accusers to know that, and it will be hard for them to answer questions about how he was able to escape all these things. Michael Jackson was one of the most scrutinized, followed, and targeted men in the U.S. and yet the public is to believe that Jackson was one of the greatest criminal masterminds of all time?
It strains all credibility and reason that a man like Michael, with so much to lose, would touch a child with his mother in the same room, using just a “thin blanket” to cover. Especially if you remember that he was already undergoing child sexual abuse charges at the same time. Safechuck would like us to believe that Jackson threatened him to testify in his 2005 trial, but even this has been determined to be a lie. The judge in 2005 ruled early in the trial that Safechuck was a “non-entity” and couldn’t testify to begin with. Forget that it wouldn’t have been up to Jackson to testify to begin with. The judge gets to make that determination. Not Michael Jackson. Not James Safechuck.
Since the documentary provided no context for anything, one would need to look at the information in their lawsuits. It’s there that all their stories fall completely apart.
Safechuck states that he was abused in Michael’s train station in his Neverland Ranch. In the film he states it happens “everyday” and that in the beginning of a relationship “couples” have sex a lot.
Except that during the years Safechuck states he was abused from 1988–1992, the train station doesn’t even exist yet. The building permits weren’t given to Michael until 1993 and the train station wasn’t built until late 1994, well after Safechuck stated the abuse concluded. Michael and Lisa Marie were married at this point and he wasn’t even living at Neverland. You’d have to wait until late 1995 when Michael returns to his ranch, when Safechuck is nearly seventeen years old.
When Dan Reed was confronted with this evidence that was undeniable, he simply decided to change the dates that Safechuck was abused. He claims the dates are wrong in a tweet to Michael Smallcombe. A tweet that again stretches his own credibility until it snaps. Now, we’re supposed to believe that Michael was in love with young boys, but was now molesting Safechuck at the age of 16? The problem? Safechuck has never made this claim himself. Dan Reed was “gracious” enough to do it for him. To this date, Safechuck has not stepped forward to correct the record.
Wade Robson doesn’t escape off the hook here either. It was found in his mother’s own testimony that she claimed Wade went with his family to the Grand Canyon in two separate depositions, but in Leaving Neverland, she claims she left her child behind with Michael Jackson. Leaving him behind to be “abused”. Which is the truth? Why didn’t they show all the photos from the trip? Is it because Wade is in the pictures, yet destroying another narrative?
“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.” Abraham Lincoln
The stories aren’t adding up here and Jackson fans had been screaming this from the beginning, only to be downplayed and ignored by the media in a malicious way. They were called “the Islamic State” of fandom, never taking the fans seriously when they were right all along not to trust Safechuck or Robson.
In this upside-down world we live in, all it takes for someone to put out a one-sided documentary and suddenly the impossible becomes possible. Convicted murderers are now innocent and were railroaded by the State. Pop stars are pedophiles and murderers are mainly misunderstood. What’s easier to believe? That a pop star was a child molester under all our noses? Even when we know and have direct evidence that the same pop star was repeatedly extorted? Or can we acknowledge that these documentaries passing themselves as “fair” were manipulating you into one truth. Their truth?
Which sound truer to you?
We know one thing; Michael Jackson had several extortion attempts in his lifetime. Surprisingly, Jackson’s nemesis, Diane Dimond reported on one of them in the 90s, unfairly taking credit for uncovering the scheme, when it was the Canadian police who figured this case out. A man named Rodney Allen admitted that he was behind a clever ruse to extort Jackson for money. A fifteen-year-old boy called the television show, Hard Copy, and gave a very detailed story about being molested by Jackson. He even drew complete maps of Neverland and Hayvenhurst and could describe people that worked on Jackson’s staff. He knew so much information that it was astonishing. There were some troubling inconsistencies, but he stuck to his story. However, it all turned out to be just another extortion attempt by a man hell bent on revenge.
Those who claim with Jackson that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Well, this is true. How? The media and others should have picked up long ago that this was another extortion attempt, like all the other cases before. If the media had treated the 1993 allegations as an extortion case, which it was, then perhaps there would not have been others who tried to go the same route.
During media interviews, Dan Reed speaks of the Chandler case as “proof” that Jackson was guilty, he blatantly ignores, along with everyone else, that the Chandlers were being investigated for extortion in 1993. That case never went anywhere because the LAPD did little investigation into the matter, even when Jackson had clear evidence that there was an extortion attempt from the Chandlers, namely Evan Chandler himself.
Evan Chandler wanted Jackson to financially back his screenplay, Men in Tights. When Jackson refused, suddenly he began to make allegations that his son Jordan was molested. Despite the apparent proof that Jackson was being extorted, the police served no search warrants on Evan Chandler’s office or home. There was nothing done with the extortion claim because the police department focused all their energy on trying to find child sexual abuse on Jackson when there was absolutely nothing.
With all the ham sandwiches that have gone on in history to be indicted, there was no evidence to indict Michael in 1993 nor were there ever any charges. Charges were brought against Michael in 2005, but they were so incredibly ridiculous, the jury and the press wondered how was this case ever brought by the State. They needed to wait until the trial began so they could get the facts of the case.
But the press didn’t wait that long. They pounced.
They reported on the red meat that the trial delivered, only reporting the opposite of what was going on in court. Nancy Grace and others led the way, telling the American people every night that the prosecution was gaining points, even as Gavin and Star Arvizo completely fell apart on the witness stand. The press didn’t bother to report the fact that Janet Arvizo, the accuser’s mother, was a complete disaster, telling the public that she was a “devastating” witness to the defense’s case. This devastating witness also snapped her fingers at the jury to get them to listen to her, even talking to some of the jury members in the courtroom. The more of a disaster the prosecution’s case became, the more the press told us that Jackson would be convicted.
However, Jackson walked out of court a free and innocent man. There was absolutely no proof against him, despite the District Attorney trying to plant the Arvizo children’s fingerprints on a pornographic magazine in front of everyone while they sat on the witness stand.
The charges against Michael Jackson were completely ridiculous, as there was no proof that he was guilty. The Arvizo family couldn’t keep their story straight, but the media was fascinated with this family who lied so blatantly on the stand. The jury had no choice. It was clear that Michael was an innocent man.
Stephen Avery was found guilty, but a documentary was able to convince hundreds of thousands of people that he’s innocent. I don’t know whether Avery is innocent or guilty, but I am quite sure that we can’t make that determination on a documentary that was very pro-defense.
We should feel the same about Michael Jackson. You don’t have to be a fan to see that he didn’t get a fair shake from a documentary that was admitted by the filmmaker to be one-sided. Dan Reed stated that he did only a few weeks of research into the accusers’ stories and apparently that was enough for all the major media outlets to declare that Jackson was “done” and labeled him a pedophile. It’s dangerous to jump to conclusions before one does their homework. It only took a few minutes of research for many of Jackson’s fans along with some journalists with some integrity and common sense to see that there were some huge inconsistencies in their stories.
But that’s not how bandwagons and mobs are born, is it?
Mobs and bandwagons need tons of angry, misinformed people. Add a few pitchforks and torchlights and democracy is quickly eroded. The truth gets buried in the dark, while lies run all day long. Assumptions become fact. Facts become inconvenient. And rights owed to the accused are quickly removed and just like that, the presumed innocent become guilty. The guilty are now innocent.
And we are in trouble.
What rights do we owe the accused? Is an accusation enough to label someone? Do we stop listening to their music, read their books, or watch their television shows? Is an accusation enough to tarnish a man’s reputation? With the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements rightfully gaining ground, the leaders of those movements need to make some decisions. Does it want to be a group of people who do the right thing based on facts, or does it simply want to lead an unruly mob?
We are certain of one thing. The moment we human beings claim that we are certain or that we’re sure about anything, that’s the time when we should be expressing the most doubt. Because being human means to not always be certain. It means to doubt.
Michael Jackson was an incredible entertainer and he’ll always be remembered that way. He left an incredible mark on music, dance, fashion, and redefined art. For generations, he entertained millions of people. We owe more to him and to ourselves than to recklessly call Michael a pedophile just because a documentary wants us to desperately believe that. Most journalists didn’t even look at the motivation of these allegations to determine that there were hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, giving 1.5 billion reasons to lie.
Now a man’s legacy lay in ruins while more contradictions and straight up lies rise to the surface. We owe it to ourselves to always dig deeper, and yet, it seems that we never learn these lessons, doomed to repeat them. That should be enough to scare any one of you. Who’s next? Who else are we willing to rip to shreds? What price are we willing to pay?
A very steep one, indeed. Michael paid for it with his life.