“Leaving Neverland” aimed to overwhelm its viewers with details and shocking descriptions. Many critics and journalists repeatedly pointed out this fact as the most "compelling" aspect of the film. What they forgot to tell us, however, is that every time that Wade Robson and James Safechuck attempted to describe places, dates, or specific events, they're vastly debunked by the hard facts. And since that's the case, here's a list of no less than twenty-five lies they told us in "Leaving Neverland".
Lie #1: Robson's and Safechuck's stories are similar even though they didn't know each other
During the promotion of “Leaving Neverland”, the creators of the film repeatedly stressed that Wade Robson and James Safechuck's stories are similar even though they have never met "as adults" before the film premiere at the Sundance festival in January 2019, and therefore their allegations couldn't have been coordinated in advance. This claim is a blatant lie - the resemblances are far from being a coincidence.
According to Wade Robson's own deposition in 2016 (months before the film production started), he met with James Safechuck at least once in early 2014. This is exactly when Safechuck was preparing to join Robson with a multi-million lawsuit against the Michael Jackson Estate and companies. Since the early beginning of this affair, Robson and Safechuck are represented by the same lawyers. In fact, the two are so synchronized, that in July 2016, they both let go of their first lawyers, hired new ones, and changed their claims in perfect accordance with each other.
Lie #2: "Michael replaced me with young Brett Barnes"
Robson and Safechuck didn't stop at presenting their own stories – they claimed that there are other "younger victims" that Jackson abused when Robson and Safechuck were "too old" for him. Safechuck spoke about the night in Chicago, where he was finally replaced by Brett Barnes and then had to spend the night crying on the couch. Robson, too, mentioned Barnes as the "other Australian boy" that Jackson allegedly molested.
But Brett Barnes to this day defends Jackson and insists he has never been molested. He even responded directly to the film and his attorneys demanded such claims will be removed from it: "[the] film strongly implying that Mr. Barnes was sexually abused by one of his best friends is outrageous. That no one even attempted to contact Mr. Barnes to ask about such accusation is beyond the pale [...] Put simply, Mr. Barnes wants nothing to do with the film, does not consent to use of his image and likeness in the film, and wishes to be left alone,” reads his letter to HBO.
In May 2013, when Barnes first learned about Robson's lawsuit against the Jackson estate, he protested against it on Twitter, "I wish people would realize, in your last moments on this earth, all the money in the world will be of no comfort. My clear conscience will."
Lie #3: "Michael replaced me with young Macaulay Culkin"
Wade Robson also claimed that Jackson replaced him with a younger boy – the "Home Alone" child actor Macaulay Culkin. Robson and his mother claim that by the time they moved to America, they noticed a shift in Jackson's attitude towards them and that young Macaulay Culkin got all his attention instead. In fact, Culkin is actually two years older than Robson.
Robson made these claims even though Macaulay Culkin has continuously rejected them over the years. After "Leaving Neverland", Culkin again defended Jackson and says he has never been abused: “Look, I’m gonna begin with the line—it’s not a line, it’s the truth: He never did anything to me. I never saw him do anything. And especially at this flashpoint in time, I’d have no reason to hold anything back. The guy has passed on. If anything—I’m not gonna say it would be stylish or anything like that, but right now is a good time to speak up. And if I had something to speak up about, I would totally do it. But no, I never saw anything; he never did anything."
When director Dan Reed was asked about Culkin and Barnes, he said he had "read about them," but for some reason, he never bothered to talk to them before he decided to falsely present them as victims. "I don't want to push Macaulay or Brett to admit anything they don't want to admit or confront anything they don't want to confront right now," Reed stated.
Lie #4: Michael would keep us apart
Robson and Safechuck claim that Jackson didn't want his alleged victims to know of each other and made sure they were never in the same place at the same time. However, evidence shows that the two did meet as children, which proves that there was no such effort to keep them apart. Additionally, there are dozens of pictures and videos proving that children who visited Neverland knew of each other and spent a lot of time together, including Wade Robson, James Safechuck, Brett Barnes, Frank Cascio, and even Jordan Chandler. Robson himself testified in 2005 that he once spent a night at Neverland with Culkin and Chandler.
Lie #5: The Imaginary Train Station
Safechuck alleges a continuous abuse at the Neverland train station. He claims that he and Jackson used to 'have sex' there at the beginning of his 'relationship' with Jackson between November 1987 and January 1990: "At the train station, there was a room upstairs... and we would have sex up there too. That happened every day. It sounds sick but it's kinda like when you first dating somebody right, and you do a lot of it, so it was very much like that." According to Safechuck, the last time he was abused was in 1992, when he turned 14 and was 'too old' for Jackson.
Weeks after "Leaving Neverland" aired, Safechuck's lie got exposed: the iconic train station didn't even exist in those years. The construction permits show that approval for the building happened only in September 1993, and the building process ended in the winter of 1994 - at least four years after the timeframe of Safechuck's story.
Lie #6: The Invisible Castle
Other places James Safechuck mentions as locations of abuse were the Neverland castle and the arcade, "on small beds". Three different people who worked at Neverland debunk these claims as well. The first, maintenance manager Alan Scanlan stated that there were never beds of any kind in these places. Brad Sundberg, the Neverland sound engineer confirmed this fact as well - no beds in the castle that was surrounded by big windows. In 2013, Rob Swinson, the Neverland ride consultant and developer, described the castle in an interview: "there was a little tv in the corner and nothing else."
Peculiarly, the castle too didn't exist in the aforementioned years, and the building process only ended in 1991.
Lie #7: Liar, Liar, Fake Items on Fire
"Leaving Neverland" ends with a dramatic scene where Robson sets on fire gifts he allegedly received from Jackson over the years. These items are in fact fake: Robson auctioned the original Jackson items on Julien's Auctions in 2011. None of the burned items were previously owned by Jackson (a sealed copy of Thriller 25, a 'Billie Jean' glove replica, The Michael Jackson Opus, etc.) - unlike the expensive items which Robson sold for over a hundred thousand dollars, months before he 'realized' he was abused.
In February 2019, Julien's Auctions confirmed Robson sold his valuable items, saying "he needed the money". Interestingly enough, they also say Robson tried to sell his items anonymously, but they didn't agree.
Robson's original Michael Jackson gloves and fedora, sold in 2011:
Lie #8: Joy Robson Got Rid of Anything Jackson-Related
Joy Robson says she got rid of anything that had "Michael Jackson's name or signature" once Wade told her about his allegations in 2012. And yet in "Leaving Neverland" (shot in 2017), she presents pictures, tapes, birthday videos, and faxes that she clearly never bothered to throw away.
The Robson Family kept selling valuable items they received from Jackson even after Wade filed a lawsuit against his estate. In August 2015, they listed a Michael Jackson framed picture, with the asking price of $ 1,100. The inscription of the picture said, "to Wade, the best friend in the universe, Love, Michael". The auction was posted on eBay without revealing the identity of the owners.
Lie #9: "Michael taught us to hate girls"
Wade and James claim that Jackson hated girls and told them they must hate girls as well. First, there's no evidence that Jackson ever had negative feelings towards girls or women. Far from it, girls and boys alike visited Neverland and spent time with Jackson over the years.
Moreover, in February 2019, Brandi Jackson, Michael Jackson's niece, revealed that her uncle introduced her to Wade Robson, who became her longtime boyfriend: "Wade and I were together for over 7 years, but I bet that isn't in his 'documentary' because it would ruin his timeline. And did I mention, it was my uncle, Michael Jackson who set us up? Wade is not a victim." With that, Brandi Jackson completely contradicts what Robson and Safechuck said in the film.
Lie #10: The Robson Family Faxes
Both families presented some old mementos from Jackson, but none of them provided evidence that can corroborate any of their claims against him. The Robson family showed 27-year-old fax correspondence between Jackson and Joy, which they described as "love letters" for Wade. The faxes scene was even declared as one of the "five most shocking moments in Leaving Neverland," as if these faxes provide no less than a smoking gun.
But the fax scene was intended to distract the viewers from the obvious absence of evidence throughout the film. The content of these faxes is clearly in no way incriminating - since all it shows is Jackson expressing his affection towards the Robson family, as he would often do with others as well.
According to Joy Robson's 2016 deposition, all of those faxes were sent to her. Joy said that most of the time it was Jackson's personal assistant who sent them - simply because Jackson didn't know how to do it. The court files contain almost 40 faxes that were addressed to the entire family: "Joy, I love you all", "Joy, whatever I can do to help, I will", and "Chantal, I love you because you're very kind and sweet" - such letters were never presented in "Leaving Neverland," because they do not fit Robson’s claims about the faxes.
Lie #11: The Safechuck Family Tapes
The only 'evidence' that James Safechuck presents in Leaving Neverland, is a tape of an interview he made with Jackson after his trip to Hawaii with the Safechuck family. In the film, we can hear Jackson saying "the best thing about Hawaii was spending time with Jimmy," an obvious attempt to make the interview sound suggestive. However, court documents show the full transcript of the tape, which shows that the tape was edited, because, in reality, Jackson said: "The best thing about Hawaii was spending time with Jimmy, [I] love Jimmy's family and want to spend time with them"
Lie #12: Mark Geragos' Doctored Statement
At some point during the film, there's an archival video of one of Jackson's former attorneys giving a press conference in 2003. The video was intended to prove Jackson's so-called aggressive and intimidating methods to silence his victims, so they wouldn't dare to testify against him in the 2005 trial.
The problem is that the original two-minute video has now become a 15-second video without context. Geragos (who didn't represent Jackson in 2005) addressed a completely different issue: it was specifically directed at the two adult men who illegally wiretapped his conversations with Michael Jackson. The two sentences in which Geragos mentions these two men are simply omitted from the film. You can see the manipulative editing in the following video:
(on the left "Leaving Neverland" version, on the right - the original video)
In March 2019, Geragos addressed the manipulative scene:
Lie #13: The Subpoena That Never Was
Robson claims he didn't want to testify in Jackson's defense in 2005 but was forced to do it after he got a subpoena. When asked about it in 2016, Robson said he remembers getting the subpoena, although he didn't remember when and where it was, and if anyone was with him. Robson never introduced the subpoena in court nor he provided any proof that he was ever subpoenaed.
According to Scott Ross, the defense investigator in Jackson's 2005 trial, they've never sent Robson a subpoena: "As for making anybody testify - I would love for Wade Robson to show me the subpoena he never got. I simply called him and I told him 'listen we need you to get up here by such and such a day'. I was in regular communication with his sister, who testified, I was in regular communication with his mother, who testified. So, again when I hear some of these allegations - I'm trying not to say the stupidity level - the absurdity level is insane!"
Jackson's 2005 attorney Thomas Mesereau stated he had never heard of anyone in his team sending Robson a subpoena: "[Robson's claim] does shock me [...] He and his mother and sister all came to Neverland ready to voluntarily support Michael Jackson in and outside of the courtroom. And that's what they did."
Lie #14: The Phonecall No One Called
James Safechuck alleges that "towards the end of the trial", there was an attempt to force him to testify in Jackson's favor. He says that Jackson and his personal assistant Evvy Tavasci called and begged him to testify and that once he refused to do it, Jackson got angry and "threatened him". Factually, however, James Safechuck was irrelevant to the 2005 trial and his testimony was never needed.
On March 28, 2005, Judge Rodney Melville had already ruled that "evidence as to Jimmy Safechuck will not be permitted". From the early stages of the trial, the court decided James Safechuck was a "non-entity" since there were no allegations in his regards, no witnesses, and because Safechuck himself stated under oath that he had never been molested. Therefore, the defense had no reason to call Safechuck to the stand and he wasn't on the witnesses list - not even as a character witness.
"James Safechuck had nothing to do with the trial at all, other than maybe he was watching it on TV, that's the closest he got to it," said Ross. He also stressed that Jackson or his assistant were never in contact with the witnesses and that it was solely his job to do it.
Lie #15: The Grammy Awards
In his civil lawsuit against the Jackson estate and companies, Safechuck claims that Jackson flew him to New York to see his Grammy performance in February 1989. According to his complaint, he was alone with Jackson on this trip, and "ongoing sexual abuse would occur". The problem is, Jackson didn't even attend the 1989 Grammys, which was actually held in Los Angeles.
This is not just a minor timeline error. Jackson did perform at the 1988 Grammys, and both James and his mother accompanied him to that trip to New York. According to Safechuck's own complaint, at the time of their trip in 1988, his mother did not allow him to sleep in Jackson's room, and he slept in a separate room with his mother. An "ongoing abuse" couldn't have occurred during that trip. Safechuck himself alleges that his sexual abuse started in June 1988, in a hotel room in Paris.
Lie #16: Out in the Open
Despite portraying Jackson as a paranoid and very cautious abuser who would put a great deal of effort to not get caught, James Safechuck alleges he had been molested in every possible -- and impossible -- corner at Neverland. Among them are places that are out in the open that anyone could see, at any time.
Safechuck claims to have been molested in the swimming pool at Neverland. However, the Neverland swimming pool was located in a central area that any visitor or employee could see from the distance. Moreover, the pool was surrounded by surveillance cameras and security and Santa Barbara duty officers 24/7 watch.
James Safechuck tells of a time he and Jackson almost got caught in the act by his mother: "The movie theater had these two like private rooms, it had big glass windows so you can see the theater and so we would have sex in those rooms. That was a bit dangerous but there's a bit excitement there." James' mother, Stephanie, corroborated his story when she dramatically described how one night she tried to enter the movie theater when Jackson was there with her son - but the doors were locked from the inside.
This scenario turned out to be impossible as well: the theater doors at neverland had panic exit devices (also known as crash bars) and couldn't have been locked from the inside. According to Alan Scanlan, who built the Neverland theater, locking the doors was only possible from the outside, and the only ones who had the key were the security men.
Lie #17: The Nicknames
The film also deals with the nicknames Jackson gave Robson and Safechuck: Rubba Head, Apple Head, and Doo-Doo Head, implying these names are suggestive and sexual. Former child-star Emmanuel Lewis, who was one of Jackson's friends, explained that he was the one who came up with the name Rubba: "Everyone called everyone Rubba. It didn't mean anything." Indeed, dozens of videos online confirm that Jackson called everyone by these nicknames: his friends, his own children, his nieces, nephews, and cousins. "We were the first rubba, doo doo, and appleheads," wrote Yashi Brown, Jackson's niece in reaction to the film.
Lie #18: Way-Off-Camera
In "Leaving Neverland", Robson says Jackson gave him a video camera as a "sexual favor gift" right after his last alleged abuse at the age of 14: "The next morning he handed me some new, like, camera that he had gotten that I could play with."
But in 2002 Wade told a completely different story about how and when he got that camera: "Even when I first started my interest in film directing, which is way back when I was seven. Even then he would buy me a video camera, but instead of just giving it to me, he would give it to me and say 'Here's a video camera - Take a week, learn how to use it—shoot some stuff. If you've done something interesting you can keep it, if you mess around I'm going to take it back.'"
Email correspondence between Wade and his mother, also known as Joey Robson, confirms Wade got his camera on their first trip to the United States when he was 7, and not in 1996. This email correspondence is from October 2012, at the time when Robson was writing his book and preparing for his lawsuit. He had exchanged several emails with his mother about all the details of their relationship with Jackson, which he later claimed to never have forgotten.
Lie #19: The Reason Why Robson Testified in Jackson's Defense
Ever since Robson filed his lawsuit in 2013, he repeatedly claimed that he "didn't realize he was abused" and that he "didn't know it was wrong" and that's why he testified in court that Jackson had never molested him. Nevertheless, Robson contradicts his own claim - in the film -- and in his lawsuit. One time during the film, he explains he decided to testify in Jackson's favor because he felt bad for his three children and didn't want them to lose their father. Robson's concern suggests he was very aware that such a relationship would be wrong and inappropriate. On the stand, he answered specific and explicit questions under oath and stated he was aware that Jackson could end up in prison if convicted.
Q. Mr. Jackson would periodically kiss you, would he not? -A. No.
Q. Periodically hug you? -A. Yes.
Q. Touch you? -A. Hug me. That would be --
Q. Put his hands through your hair? -A. No.
Q. Touch you about the head and the face? -A. Yeah.
Q. Did he ever kiss you on the cheek? -A. Yeah.
Q. Did he ever kiss you on the lips? -A. No.
As his testimony advanced, Robson answered more questions of the same nature:
Q. On the occasions that you stayed in bed with Mr. Jackson, would you ever cuddle in bed? -A. No.
Q. Would you lie next to one another? -A. No.
Q. Would you touch? -A. No.
Q. Would you consider it to have been inappropriate to have cuddled in bed? -A. Sorry?
Q. Would you have considered it to be inappropriate to have cuddled in bed? -A. No.
11-year-old Robson says the allegations against Jackson are "sick" in 1993:
Lie #20: Michael gave the Safechucks a house because they defended him
"We wanted to buy another house and Michael gave us a loan at a very low percentage rate. My husband had already had a deposition, we were on Michaels's camp, my son also for Michael and after that was all set and done is when Michael forgave the debt. Michael said, 'no, I don't want you to pay me anymore, it's a gift'. So he did buy us a house. It's just coincidental, he wasn't buying us off but the timing is right there. Just sounds bad."
Stephanie Safechuck insinuated that Jackson gifted them with a new house after they testified in his defense in 1994. The actual timeline, however, completely refutes her insinuations.
Documents show that James Safechuck's parents asked Jackson if he could help them buy a new house. In May 1992, Jackson agreed to help and his trust provided them with a fixed loan for $305,000 with a low-interest rate. Their agreement stated that the Safechucks were to return the loan. The parties signed the agreement long before the Chandler allegations and two years before Jackson needed anyone to testify for him. Even after the family took the stand, they were asked to pay their loan. The Safechuck continued to ask for extensions.
In June 1997, five years later, Jackson's attorneys decided to forgive the debt the Safechucks failed to pay. The forgiven debt had nothing to do with the allegations nor the Safechucks’ support.
Lie #21: Robson and Safechuck Have Nothing to Gain
The film creators insist on presenting Robson and Safechuck as people who have "no financial interest". Their posthumous lawsuits against Jackson's companies are mentioned very briefly as a minor issue - but that's not the case. "Leaving Neverland" deals with the allegations behind a multi-million dollar lawsuit that is still going on to this day. The film was clearly meant to support their lawsuits. It was even used in support of a law change [Code of Civil Procedure section 340.1], that now allows their lawsuit to proceed.
In addition, since "Leaving Neverland" first aired, various documents exposed Robson's and Safechuck's unstable financial and employment situation. Wade Robson continuously tried to profit from his relationship with Jackson by selling valuable items, trying to get Jackson-related jobs, and even shopping for an expensive book deal months before he filed his lawsuit.
Lie #22: Dancing Stephanie
Stephanie Safechuck said she was lying in bed when she first learned about Michael Jackson's sudden death in 2009 (which was actually reported at around 2 pm GMT): “I danced when I heard that he died. I was lying in bed, the news came on and I got out of bed. “I was like 'Oh thank God, he can't hurt any more children' – those were my thoughts. I was so happy he died."
But According to her son, he never told anyone about his abuse and didn't realize he was abused until he saw Wade Robson's interview in 2013 - and only then told his family about it. Stephanie couldn't have known about the alleged abuse four years before James told her about it.
Lie #23: "Michael pushed us away from our families"
Another false claim in "Leaving Neverland" was that Jackson would separate children from their families so he could control them. According to Neverland employees and various people who worked for Jackson, James Safechuck was always accompanied by his parents - on visits and on trips. Jackson's personal assistant, Evvy Tavasci, stated in her 2016 deposition that the entire Safechuck family visited Neverland "numerous times" in the early 90s, but Jackson was hardly ever there during their visits, although he was still generous towards them. Another Neverland employee, Judi Brisse tweeted right after the film was aired:
Joy Robson also contradicts her son's claim. According to her depositions (in 1993 and 2016) and her 2005 testimony, she was at Neverland every time Wade was there (except for one time in 1993). She also testified that she never felt anyone was trying to keep her away from Michael's bedroom. According to Joy, her family visited Neverland 40-50 more times when Jackson wasn't there.
Other families who befriended Jackson over the years have always maintained that he would spend time with the entire family - siblings, parents, and different relatives.
Lie #24: Never Left Neverland
The film focuses on Robson's and Safechuck's traumatic experiences at Neverland, Michael Jackson's famous ranch. But up to their lawsuits, Neverland was no less than "wonderful" and a "sacred land" in their eyes.
Throughout the years, Robson and Safechuck kept going back to Neverland, whether Jackson was there or not. According to Robson's testimony, he and his family visited neverland at least 40 times in Jackson's absence. When he was asked about the place in interviews, he raved: "It's like Disneyland, it's the best thing in the world!". In 2008 Wade and his wife Amanda created a movie at Neverland and thanked Jackson in the credits: "We would like to thank MJ for allowing us to use his sacred land". James Safechuck shot a video at Neverland as well. In fact, most of the pictures that appear in "Leaving Neverland" were pictures Safechuck took during the shooting of his film in 1996.
Robson loved Neverland so much that he decided to marry Amanda, he asked to do the wedding ceremony right there in Jackson's house. In March 2019, Jackson's personal assistant and nanny Grace Rwaramba revealed Robson's weird request in the middle of Jackson’s 2005 trial. Rwaramba recalled: “I remember responding with a stern ‘do you seriously expect me to ask Michael, right now — during the trial — if you can use the ranch for Wade’s wedding?’ […] Why would someone who alleges to have been assaulted for over seven years want to have one of the most sacred events in his life on the same property where the attacks allegedly took place?’”
Lie #25: "nothing’s emerged that cast any doubt on what they told"
If you got this far, this lie should be pretty obvious. "Leaving Neverland" director Dan Reed defended the many flaws in his film and stated his research was nothing short of perfect: "Nothing’s emerged that cast any doubt on what they told me and what’s in the film. We don’t just go and speak to you once. We speak to you again and again and again. We hang out with you. I never caught a glimpse of anything that made me suspect that they were being anything less than truthful."
In reality, Dan Reed insisted on talking only to the Robsons, the Safechucks, and "prosecution investigators" from the 2005 case - and that's it. He admittedly ignored children who have different stories to tell (including Culkin and Barnes, whom he falsely presented as victims), refused to speak to the Jackson family, defense attorneys, Neverland workers, and anyone who might validate Jackson's side of the story. Reed didn't even study Robson's and Safechuck's own declarations and depositions in their current lawsuits against the Jackson companies, which are easily accessible to anyone who is willing to conduct a proper investigation. All of the aforementioned factors would have yielded a completely different outcome - a professional, factual, and possibly more balanced documentary.
Watch Now: "Lies of Leaving Neverland"