Michael Jackson's family is once again speaking out against Leaving Neverland, the documentary focused on two men who say Jackson sexually abused them as children, which debuted Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. In the family's second statement on the matter, per USA Today, family members say they are "furious that the media ... without a shred of proof or single piece of physical evidence, chose to believe the word of two admitted liars over the word of hundreds of families and friends around the world who spent time with Michael, many at Neverland, and experienced his legendary kindness and global generosity."
The subjects of the film, Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 40, said at the time of Jackson's 2005 trial on child sex abuse charges that he did not abuse them; Robson actually testified in the pop star's defense. Jackson was acquitted. But after Jackson's death, the two men said he did abuse them, filing lawsuits against his estate in 2013 and 2014. (Both were dismissed for technical reasons.) The family statement refers to the men as "perjurers" and "opportunists," insisting Jackson is simply "an easy target because he was unique." But Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed spoke to USAT himself over the weekend and says the film is "a portrait of grooming by a person who's trusted by a family," showing "what happens when a family encounters someone who's deemed to be a wonderful friend and mentor to a child, and how that can progress to sexual abuse." (Security was stepped up for the film's premiere.)