Jermaine Jackson defended his late brother after an explosive new documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last week
Jermaine Jackson is speaking out against the documentary Leaving Neverland, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday and puts forth explosive claims against his late brother, Michael Jackson.
The four-hour exposé, which will premiere on HBO this spring, centers around claims from James Safechuck and Wade Robson, both of whom say they endured years of Jackson’s alleged inappropriate behavior and manipulation.
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Jermaine, 64, defended his brother when asked if he was certain that Jackson was innocent, saying, “I’m a thousand percent sure because Michael was tried by a jury and he was acquitted on all of this because there was no real evidence. There was nothing there. I will say this, our family are tired, very tired. Let this man rest. He did a lot for the world, let him rest. I will say this, there is no truth to this documentary.”
Speaking to hosts Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan about Jackson sharing beds with young boys at his Neverland ranch, Jermaine continued, “Those were slumber parties. What they didn’t tell you was that there were girls there even with their parents, uncles, they were sitting down watching movies, having cookies, having fun, popcorn, watching films. Michael said, ‘Why do people relate the bed to sex?’ which shows his innocence. Michael’s a big kid.”
He continued, “We are living in a time when people can say anything and then it’s taken as truth… they would rather believe a documentary than what was said under oath.”
Visibly emotional, Jermaine added, “We are still mourning… just leave us alone, leave him alone. Let him rest, please, let him rest. He deserves to rest.”
In a statement on Monday, the Jackson estate said that they remain “proud of what Michael Jackson stands for.”
“People have always loved to go after Michael,” the statement continued. “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.”
The Jackson family’s statement continued by saying, “Michael always turned the other cheek, and we have always turned the other cheek when people have gone after members of our family — that is the Jackson way. 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 made.”
The documentary’s director, Dan Reed, however, rebuked these claims in a statement to PEOPLE. “Anyone who sees the film will know it is solely about hearing the stories of two specific individuals and their families in their own words, and that is a focus we are very proud of,” he says. “We feel no need to include the opinions of people with no direct knowledge of what happened to those individuals.”
Jackson’s nephew, Taj Jackson, 45, has also repeatedly and vehemently denounced the allegations made in the documentary.
“My family and I have known Wade and his family since he came to America. Don’t tell me a 4 hour one sided hit job that you watched is more reputable than people who actually knew him and saw his interactions,” he wrote on Saturday. “This is all about money and the desperate need to be relevant again.”
Taj tweeted again Tuesday and Wednesday, saying in part, “When does our family get our lives back? … There is no defamation law for the dead so they can say whatever they want and they did. … Look at who is throwing stones, and ask yourself why. Ask yourself why are they going after a dead black man PROVEN INNOCENT, when there are plenty of known white offenders in the industry.”
He has also created a GoFundMe page in support of his uncle, with the aim of creating a new documentary, which plans to “conclusively destroy decades of salacious myths which have been told and sold about Michael Jackson.” The campaign has since raised over $35,000 of its $777,000 goal.
In 2017, a California judge dismissed Robson’s case against Jackson’s estate and two companies it controls, MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures, and ruled that it is not liable for Jackson’s alleged childhood sexual abuse of the celebrity choreographer.
Robson first sued in 2013, claiming that Jackson abused him for nearly a decade. He later said in an amended complaint to his 2013 lawsuit that MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures were operations “specifically designed to locate, attract, lure and seduce child sexual abuse victims.” A probate court in 2015 rejected his claim against the estate itself, which left the two business entities as defendants.
At the time of the ruling, Jackson’s estate said in a statement, “In my opinion Mr. Robson’s allegations, made 20 plus years after they supposedly occurred and years after Mr. Robson testified twice under oath — including in front of a jury — that Michael Jackson had never done anything wrong to him were always about the money rather than a search for the truth.”
Robson said he first met Jackson when he was 5 years old after winning a competition run by MJJ Productions in his native Australia. Two years later, his family was invited to stay at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch home in California, where he claims he slept in Jackson’s bed and said he was first sexually abused by him. He claimed the abuse continued for seven years.
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Robson had previously appeared as a witness for Jackson’s defense during a separate sexual abuse trial in 2005 in which the pop star was acquitted of child molestation charges.
In 2014, Safechuck, then in his 30s, claimed he was sexually abused by the singer when he was 10 years old after appearing in a Pepsi commercial with him.
Safechuck claimed in court papers that after multiple visits to Jackson’s home (some of which were chaperoned by his parents) and several all-expense-paid cross-country trips, he joined Jackson on his Bad tour, which is when he alleged the first incident of sexual abuse occurred.
Jackson was 50 years old when he was found dead on June 25, 2009, in his L.A. mansion. He is survived by his three children: Prince Michael, 21, Paris, 20, and 16-year-old “Blanket,” who now goes by Bigi.