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Michael Jackson's Estate Sues, but HBO Will Air Documentary

In the film, 2 men accuse the singer of abusing them when they were kids
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2019 12:01 AM CST
Updated Feb 22, 2019 2:03 AM CST
From left, Wade Robson, director Dan Reed and James Safechuck at the Sundance Film Festival last month. Robson and Safechuck say that singer Michael Jackson sexually abused them.   (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Michael Jackson's estate has sued HBO to block the airing of a documentary in which two men say that the singer molested them when they were boys. HBO says it is undaunted. "Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged," the network says in a statement to CNN, adding that the four-hour Leaving Neverland will air in two parts, March 3 and 4. "This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves," HBO says. Jackson's estate argues that HBO would be violating a non-disparagement clause in a contract it agreed to before showing a 1992 Jackson concert, and accuses HBO of exploiting "an innocent man no longer here to defend himself."

In the film and in interviews, Wade Robson, 41, and James Safechuck, 37, have offered graphic descriptions of their allegations. The documentary premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival, and Jackson's estate criticized it immediately and repeatedly. The two men, who have received death threats from Jackson fans, appeared onstage after the showing, per the Guardian. "We can't change what happened to us," Wade told the audience. "The feeling is what can we do with that now." Jackson's former maid at Neverland Ranch is scheduled to appear on Australia's 60 Minutes this weekend, the Guardian reports; in promos she claims to have seen Jackson "kissing" and "petting" young boys. (Jackson's family has called Robson and Safechuck "liars," "perjurers," and "opportunists.")

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