What The Jackson Family Thinks Of Leaving Neverland & Michael's Past Allegations

Photo: Vince Bucci/Getty Images.
Content Warning: This article contains mentions of alleged sexual abuse. Twenty-six years ago, accusations of child molestation were first brought against Michael Jackson, and even though the singer passed away 10 years ago, the controversy surrounding his life is not going away. In fact, it’s about to find a new life with a brand new set of eyes as HBO prepares to air Leaving Neverland, a two-part documentary that focuses on two of Jackson’s accusers, Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, who claim they were sexually abused by him as children. The documentary sheds new light, and presents new evidence against Jackson, who denied ever abusing children when he was alive. And after all this time, two separate trials, multiple accusations, and the new HBO documentary, Michael Jackson’s family still largely maintains his innocence.
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Going all the way back to 1993, Jackson’s large family — his eight siblings are Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Randy, Janet — has stood by him, always believing that he was innocent. And some Jackson family members have reacted to Leaving Neverland directly. Many family members believe these cases against him were simply a means of extortion by the accusers who were looking to profit. In a variety of interviews and statements over the years, just about every family member has had something different to say about Jackson and his life — and at the time, one of them did believe he was guilty.
With Leaving Neverland about to air, the family is once again speaking up about the charges and allegations brought against, over the last two and a half decades, and continue to maintain his innocence. According to them, Jackson was a great and caring man who was taken advantage of.
Brothers Jackie, Tito, Marlon, & Nephew Taj Jackson, February 2019
Three of Michael's brothers, and one of his nephews, sat down with CBS This Morning, and denied all the allegations the documentary brings forward again, claiming that Safechuck and Robson fabricated their claims to get money from Jackson's estate. The group claims they don't need to see the documentary to know it's false and Jackie vehemently denied everything, stating: “I know Michael. I’m the oldest brother. I know my brother. I know what he stood for, what he was all about, bringing the world together, making kids happy."
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The brothers have also denied the documentary's claims on other celebrity talk shows, including NBC's Access Hollywood:
The Jackson Family, January 2019
At the end of January 2019, just over a month ahead of the Leaving Neverland’s HBO release, Jackson family released a statement, one again reiterating that Jackson was innocent, and voiced their displeasure over the upcoming documentary:
“We are proud of what Michael Jackson stands for. People have always loved to go after Michael. He was an easy target because he was unique. But Michael was subjected to a thorough investigation which included a surprise raid of Neverland and other properties as well as a jury trial where Michael was found to be COMPLETELY INNOCENT. There has never been one piece of proof of anything. Yet the media is eager to believe these lies….But we can’t just stand by while this public lynching goes on, and the vulture tweeters and others who never met Michael go after him. Michael is not here to defend himself, otherwise these allegations would not have been mad...But the truth is on our side. Go do your research about these opportunists. The facts don’t lie, people do. Michael Jackson was and always will be 100% innocent of these false allegations."
You can read the full statement here.
Daughter Paris Jackson, January 2017
In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2017, Paris said:
“He is my father. He will always be my father. He never wasn’t, and he never will not be. People that knew him really well say they see him in me, that it’s almost scary… Picture your parent crying to you about the world hating him for something he didn’t do. And for me, he was the only thing that mattered. To see my entire world in pain, I started to hate the world because of what they were doing to him. I’m like, ‘How can people be so mean?’ Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine, and I just wanted to say I love him so much.”
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She believes her father was completely innocent.
Son Michael Joseph “Prince” Jackson Jr., November 2016
In an interview with The Los Angeles Times in 2016, Prince explained that he believes the allegations were all attempts at extortion. While he was young at the time, he explained, “It was a shock, it all came at once. But we learned how to deal with it by just kind of ignoring it.”
Sister Janet Jackson, July 2016
Aside from Michael, Janet is by far the most famous family member, as she continues to have a prominent recording career today (she just landed a new Las Vegas residency, too). But, while she might have the largest platform, she has remained relatively silent with regard to the allegations against her older brother over the years. She’s only commented on it publically once, in a 2016 documentary, Unmasked. In it, she explains, referring to accusers Jordan and Evan Chandler, “Now if this really went on, do you think a father would accept money? Do you think that would make everything OK? It doesn’t make any sense. If that was my son, I don’t care if he gave me a billion dollars, I want to see you either behind bars or dead for doing that to my son. It’s crazy – the guy was after money – that is all he wanted.”
The Jackson Family, June 2016
Information dating back to the 2003 case resurfaces, namely the claims that Jackson had child porn at his Neverland Ranch. The Jackson family immediately issued a statement denying the claims:
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“Everything in these reports, including what the County of Santa Barbara calls ‘content that appears to be obtained off the Internet or through unknown sources’ is false, no doubt timed to the [seventh] anniversary of Michael's passing. Those who continue to shamelessly exploit Michael via sleazy internet ‘click bait’ ignore that he was acquitted by a jury in 2005 on every one of the 14 salacious charges brought against him in a failed witch hunt.”
Brother Tito Jackson, November 2011
Speaking to The Guardian in 2011, Tito explained that he believes Jackson was taken advantage of, and that was ultimately his downfall:
“Divide and conquer, that's what happened to Michael. Purely in the interests of financial greed, people in the business – and we're talking lawyers, managers, all kinds of people – wanted to divide him from his brothers. Michael's problem, just like his mother, is that he trusted people too much. He really did. He trusted too much and was taken advantage of. We tried to reach him but the people round him made it very difficult. When he got into trouble a few times they all ran – and when he was exonerated they all came back."
Former Wife Lisa Marie Presley, April 2003
Presley and Jackson were married for 20 months, but always remained close as friends. She has always maintained that she never saw anything happening between Jackson and any young boys. In 2003, she told Rolling Stone:
“That whole shit hit the fan and he was quick to call me and tell me what his side of the story was, so it looked like an extortion situation. I believed him, because he was so convincing… I just believed everything he said, for some reason ... The only thing I can say is that I didn't see anything that would ever allude to [sexual misconduct] ever. Otherwise I would have been the first one out there going, 'You motherfucker'. I've got children. But I never saw anything like that….I didn't see anything weird or bizarre like that ever. And I did notice that he had an amazing connection to kids, whether it be a small baby or a two-year-old girl or a four-year-old — children really responded to him.”
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Sister La Toya Jackson, December 1993
After allegations first surfaced about Jackson in 1993, La Toya said she thought Michael was probably guilty. At the time, she gave a statement: "I just think Michael needs help. This has been going on since 1981, and it's not just one child. Now you stop and you think for one second and you tell me what 35-year-old man is going to take a little boy and stay with him for 30 days and take another boy and stay with him for five days in a room and never leave the room?" La Toya claimed she had seen checks Jackson had written to pay off the children, and the family distanced themselves from her. Later, La Toya would say that she was pressured into making these claims by her ex-husband.
Later, La Toya walked back her comments, and would later tell The Daily Beast in 2011, “I never believed for a minute my brother was guilty of anything like that. When I spoke to Michael about it years later, he told me he knew it wasn’t me saying those things. I didn’t even have to explain it to him — he wouldn’t let me. You have to know how good that made me feel. He always knew it wasn’t true.’’
Joe, Katherine, Jermaine, & Tito Jackson, August 1993
Following Jackson’s 1993 allegations, the four family members held a press conference on August 31, as soon as the case was made public. Jermaine stated, “We support our brother wholeheartedly,” and Katherine explained, “I'd like to let the world know that I'm behind my son. I don't believe any of this stuff that's being written about him because I raised him and I know that's just a statement people are making.”
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Jermaine also read a statement that the family had prepared together: “We would like to take this opportunity, when our family has come together in unity and harmony, to convey our love and unfailing support for Michael," he said. "Further, we wish to state our collective, unequivocal belief that Michael has been made victim of a cruel and obvious attempt to take advantage of his fame and success."
Now, with HBO's documentary being released, the family's statements are as relevant as ever.
Refinery29 could not reach members of the Jackson family directly for further comment at the time of publication.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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