Leaving Neverland is a 2019 documentary about sexual abuse claims made against Michael Jackson. Directed by Dan Reed, the HBO film details the stories of Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, and their relationships with Jackson when they were children.
In 1993, Jackson was accused of sexual abuse and ultimately settled the case out of court. Then more allegations were made against the musical icon in 2005, and he was subsequently found not guilty. Jackson passed away at the age of 50 in 2009, and now, 10 years later, HBO's Leaving Neverland documentary highlights the specifics of not only the King of Pop's relationships with Robson and Safechuck, but also the effect on their families.
Given Jackson’s legacy and popularity, Leaving Neverland has received polarizing reactions from viewers, as the production reveals several new and personal details regarding Robson and Safechuck's relationships with Jackson. Here are the specifics about the documentary’s biggest reveals.
The Robsons And Safechucks Had Overwhelming First Encounters With Jackson
For many people, celebrity encounters are often fleeting yet powerful. In the late ‘80s, however, both Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck were fully immersed into Jackson’s world upon their first meetings, made even more impactful by the pre-internet distance between pop stars and fans.
In December 1986, Jimmy Safechuck first met Jackson on a Pepsi commercial set. In fact, the promotional clip shows their first encounter, most notably the boy’s enthused reaction. Soon after, Jackson sent a film crew to the Safechuck family home, where Jimmy “auditioned” for the King of the Pop, and was subsequently visited by Jackson at their Simi Valley, CA, residence. According to Jimmy, the two would take nighttime walks in the neighborhood, and the boy's mother, Stephanie Safechuck, would wash Jackson’s clothes. Not long after, they traveled to Hawaii together, the first of several international trips.
In November 1987, seven-year-old Wade Robson first met Jackson in Brisbane, Australia after a concert. Given the boy's notable dancing talent, he was invited to join Jackson onstage the following night, and made the announcement on television the final morning during a performance. That night, Wade indeed performed with Jackson on stage and spent two hours in the singer’s hotel suite after the show. In Leaving Neverland, Wade remembers the moment as a “dream-like experience,” and that he'd been “annointed.” For Jimmy and Wade, these weren't just regular encounters, as the professional experiences made them feel close to Jackson and hopeful of a future relationship.
The Robson And Safechuck Mothers Had Different Motivations And Reactions To Jackson
In Leaving Neverland, Stephanie Safechuck describes her maternal relationship with Jackson. From her perspective, she felt that the entire family could help make Jackson “happy,” as he seemed like a member of the family. During the first trip to Hawaii with Jackson, Jimmy's mother states that she wouldn’t allow her son to stay overnight with his new friend, but also that her feelings changed as the friendship progressed.
In contrast, Joy Robson’s relationship with Jackson was based on Wade's professional potential. Furthermore, the family lived in Australia, so they weren’t able to form an immediate friendship. That all changed when the Robsons visited Los Angeles, made contact with Jackson, and were then invited to visit Neverland for the weekend. There, Wade and his sister fell asleep with Jackson in his bed - another overwhelming encounter.
Wade describes his first Neverland experience as “traveling to another planet,” and that “standard instincts and judgment seemed to go out the window.” The Robson family then left Wade alone with Jackson for five days at Neverland. Given Jackson's power and influence, it made sense to both Stephanie Safechuck and Joy Robson that Michael Jackson could help their sons, but the latter placed significantly more importance on the celebrity connection.
Jackson Prepped Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck To Normalize Sexual Encounters
As Jackson’s relationship with the Safechucks progressed, the family joined him for more international trips. In Paris, Jackson made the first sexual advances towards Jimmy by introducing masturbation - by “teaching something new.” Whereas Jimmy doesn’t recall any “unpleasant memories,” he does claim Jackson would teach him "drills" to avoid getting caught, such as learning how to get dressed without making any noise. Jackson also suggested that their lives would be over if anybody found out about their sexual relationship. Jimmy’s on-screen recollections are contrasted by his mother saying that “they [Jackson and Jimmy] were just doing kid things.” While visiting Neverland, Jimmy had more sexual encounters with the pop star, and describes being protected by numerous door entrances and a bell alarm system. Jimmy recalls a sense of excitement, as it was “a bit dangerous.” He also notes that “you start to think that your parents are bad, and that Michael is good.”
For Wade, he recalls his first sexual experiences with Jackson upon being left alone at Neverland. Like Jimmy, he doesn’t remember being scared, and that “there was nothing aggressive.” According to Jackson, they were “brought together by God." To Wade, Jackson had become a fatherly figure, as the entire experience was just “too big.” Upon returning to Australia, Jackson apparently called the Robson home every day for two years (per Joy Robson), and Wade recalls anticipating more sexual contact before his next trip to see the singer in America. It had become “routine,” and Wade fantasized a life with Jackson. The singer taught him how to “shelve feelings."