Michael Jackson’s Sexual Abuse Accusations

Michael Jackson | Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Michael Jackson | Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The controversial documentary detailing the personal accounts of two men who were close to Michael Jackson as boys, Leaving Neverland, recently premiered on HBO. The two-part doc shares harrowing personal accounts from the men and their families about how the most loved pop star in the world changed their lives.

The film has Michael Jackson fans and naysayers alike looking back at the pop star’s previous sexual assault accusations. Here they are:

The 1993 investigation

During Jackson’s “Dangerous” tour in August 1993, the Los Angeles Police Department held an investigation in response to claims that he had molested a 13-year-old boy. The police searched the pop star’s Los Angeles condominium as well as Neverland Ranch. They found no physical evidence. In September, the boy’s parents sued the star on the grounds that Jackson “repeatedly committed sexual battery,” performed oral sex, and masturbated their son.

A private investigator employed by Jackson, Anthony Pellicano, called the suit an extortion attempt. In 2008, Pellicano was sentenced to 15 years in prison for illegal wiretapping (he was also accused of making death threats against journalists).  

Jackson settled the case for $23 million. Prosecutors dropped the criminal case when the boy declined to cooperate.

The trial inspired by the ‘Living With Michael Jackson’ documentary

Michael Jackson | Carlo Allegri/Getty Images
Michael Jackson | Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

In February 2003, a documentary called Living With Michael Jackson debuted in Britain and the United States. In the doc, Jackson talks about sharing a bed with a young cancer survivor and says the people who deem the behavior inappropriate are just ignorant. A criminal investigation came about in response to the doc, and Jackson was charged with child molestation, serving alcohol to a minor, conspiracy, and kidnapping. According to The New York Times, he faced up to 20 years in prison.  

The trial began two years later in February 2005. The boy from Living With Michael Jackson, who was 14 when the trial occurred, testified that Jackson had “masturbated” him. His brother echoed the boy’s testimony, saying that Jackson had shown both of them pornography and given them wine (what Jackson had called ‘Jesus juice’).

A former housekeeper of Jackson’s, Blanca Francia, came forward and said she’d witnessed Jackson taking a shower with another young boy, Wade Robson (one of the men featured in Leaving Neverland). Robson had testified on Jackson’s behalf in 1993, insisting the pop star never touched him sexually. He again spoke on Jackson’s behalf saying he’d visited Neverland many times and never been molested nor had he ever showered with Jackson. Along with Robson, actor Macaulay Culkin also testified on behalf of the pop star. Jackson was found not guilty on all charges in June 2005.

The accusations after Michael Jackson’s death

Four years after Jackson’s death, Robson sued the pop star’s estate, claiming that Jackson had molested him from the time he was 7 until the age of 14. Jackson’s lawyers questioned Robson’s credibility after defending Jackson for so many years. The case was eventually thrown out by a judge for being filed too late.  

James Safechuck (the other man featured in Leaving Neverland), filed a suit against Jackson in 2014, claiming that the pop star had abused him hundreds of times between 1988 and 1992. The case was dismissed.

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