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S1: Episode 16. Leaving Neverland Part 2--Director's Cut

Leaving Neverland Part 2 picks up in 1992, when Robson and Safechuck claim Jackson dropped them for Macaulay Culkin and Brett Barnes. The Robsons express resentment that Jackson didn't take Wade on the Dangerous Tour, and are upset that he took Brett Barnes. You'll hear about the accusers' support of Jackson during the Chandler scandal of 1993, and their improbable claims of being intimidated by Jackson and his lawyers to testify in 2005. The film and this episode concludes with the Robsons and Safechucks placing the blame for all of their troubles on Michael Jackson.

Wade Robson's dubious claims about Jackson isolating kids

Wade Robson says in the film that Jackson liked to keep the boys apart. But this is contradicted by everyone, including Robson and Safechuck, who say that Jackson enjoyed bringing big groups of families together.

June Chandler testimony, which includes her description of all the kids together at Neverland

Wade Robson and Brett Barnes testimony, which includes descriptions of groups of kids and families hanging out together with Jackson.

Joy Robson testimony, which includes descriptions of families together at Neverland.

Frank Cascio's book, which includes descriptions of groups of kids and families together having fun at Neverland.

Taj and Brandi Jackson interview, which includes descriptions of family and friends all together having fun with Jackson at Neverland. (about 40:40)

Joy Robson deposition for her son's lawsuit

Joy says after the Chandler allegations, Wade was convincing in his denials. He looked her directly in the eye and showed no fear or hesitation when he answered very specific questions--did he touch you here, did he show you pornography. Wade told her the abuse claim was ridiculous. She says he was absolutely convincing, even in hindsight. This despite Wade's claims that he was terrified at this time because of Jackson's threats.

Wade Robson and his family in 1993 media interviews, denying anything inappropriate with Jackson

Warning signs of sexual abuse in children

Robson was calm, loose, and easygoing during the questioning by the media and his mother, and got through difficult police interviews where they were looking for any signs of fear or that something was off. But in his lawsuit Robson says he was absolutely terrified because of Jackson’s warnings from 2 years prior that they would go to jail if found out. Although fear can be hidden, it’s harder to hide terror and trauma in a child, especially under the stress of police interrogation. As mentioned in the Safechuck episode, there’s expert consensus that it’s not unusual for a child to avoid disclosing abuse, but there’s also agreement that it’s not uncommon to show nonverbal signs of abuse, especially in children, such as the following: withdrawal, rage, becoming clingy, having difficulty sleeping or eating, or having difficulty in school. The fact that none of Jackson’s four accusers have family or friends that observed any of these common nonverbal signs of abuse after hanging out with Jackson, even later upon reflection, doesn’t prove anything, but is notable in light of the credibility issues with their stories.

Jackson was invited to stay at the Chandlers, according to June Chandler's testimony

Leaving Neverland plays a news clip where it was reported that Jackson convinced Jordan Chandler's mother to let him stay at their house for 3 months. Dan Reed does not show his audience that this rumor is unsubstantiated. June Chandler's own testimony reveals that she herself invited Jackson to spend time at their house, according to her it was off and on over about a 6 week period in April and May 1993.

Blanca Francia deposition for Robson's lawsuit

Francia confirms her 1993/1994 statements in her depositions, that she said 6 times under oath that she only saw one figure in the shower, Michael Jackson. She confirms getting paid $20,000 from Hard Copy for her story on Jackson, more than her annual salary at the time. She confirms that her fellow employees thought of her as untrustworthy, especially because of how she allegedly caused someone to wrongly get fired for something she herself did.

Safechuck home loan documents:

This video explains the actual terms of the home loan from Jackson to the Safechuck family. This contradicts Stephanie Safechuck's claim that the loan forgiveness was timed after their 1994 testimony in the Chandler case.

Home Loan Documents

Reconveyance in 1997

Deposition by Jackson's driver Gary Hearne

In his deposition for Robson's lawsuit, Hearne says once Wade was a teenager he never drove Wade alone to Neverland as Wade alleges in Leaving Neverland that he did repeatedly . Hearne testifies in his deposition that he only drive Wade with his family.

Filmmaker cuts out key sentence in Geragos' statement:

Dan Reed edits Jackson lawyer Mark Geragos’ statements, misleadingly making it look like he’s talking about Jackson’s child sex abuse accusers, when he is actually talking about the people who secretly taped Jackson and Geragos on a flight after Jackson’s arrest was announced.

Full press conference footage, including Dan Reed's edited quote and the full quote.

Short clip of the edited and nonedited clip side by side, showing how Dan Reed cut out the sentence about infringing on Jackson's privacy, indicating that the "land on you like a tons of bricks" statement was about the Xtra Jet privacy case.

Wade & Joy Robson request to have wedding at Neverland

In a later public statement made by Michael Jackson’s assistant and Nanny Grace Rwamba, she says Wade calls her after giving his testimony in 2005 to ask if he can have his wedding at Neverland. She responds that it is not a good time for asking Jackson because of the huge strain of the trial. She said Wade told her how special Neverland was to him, and that it would mean the world if he could have his wedding there. Grace says after she turned him down, she got a call from his mom a few days later about the wedding at Neverland, but Grace again turned down the request.

James Safechuck's second amended complaint

This includes the claim that he told his mom that Jackson was a bad man, and briefly described how Jackson abused him. His mom in Leaving Neverland says she did nothing, and even pretended nothing was wrong when Jackson allegedly called her around the time of the trial.

Trial testimony from Brett Barnes' sister and mother

His sister says the family spent about 1/2 a year with Jackson on tour in South America, and then a different 1/2 year on tour with him in Europe. Brett's mother's testimony indicates significantly less time on tour, she says a couple of months, and that Brett was not with Jackson all the time they were on tour.

Dangerous Tour Dates, showing that the South America portion of the tour was only 2 months, and the European portion of the tour was only 3 months, so juror Hultman's claim in Leaving Neverland that Jackson spent 365 days in a row with a kid (referring to Brett Barnes) is undoubtedly incorrect.

Taj Jackson contradicts Wade's claim about the dinner at Neverland (interview from Hugging the Cactus)

Taj Jackson refutes Wade's claim about the dinner at Neverland (at 51:00 into NIcole's view interview)

In this interview, Taj Jackson contradicts Wade and his wife's account that they attended a dinner at Neverland with Jackson the night before testifying, which left Wade feeling like he had to "save" Jackson so that Jackson's kids wouldn't be abandoned. Taj was staying at Neverland during the trial full time with his Uncle Michael, and says he was also there for that dinner, but that the dinner was after Wade testified, not before. Brett Barnes was also in attendance that night and confirms Taj's account. Taj says it's a clear falsification of events, because he personally thanked both Wade and Brett for testifying on Jackson's behalf the night of the dinner. Taj notes this as another example of how the family was willing to distort the truth on behalf of Wade (around 5:00). Also at 30 minutes describing how Brett Barnes was harassed after the film to "come clean, even though he has consistently and adamantly denied abuse. Barnes was so angry by this portrayal that he wrote a letter to HBO asking that his image be removed.

Diane Sawyer interviews jurors after 2005 trial, who all express confidence in their acquittals

Vindicating Michael website article explaining how 2 jurors changed their stories several months after the trial, coinciding with book promotions

Jurors change their stories

Several months after the trial, in August, two of the jurors change their stories as they announced their forthcoming books, now saying they were pressured to vote not guilty.

Juror now backing out of book deal

A month later in September, Raymond Hultman announces he is looking to get out of his book contract because of plagarizism charges, Hultman blaming his co-writer Stacy Brown.

Reed fails to represent general juror resoluteness in their acquittals.

Dan Reed used only the juror who sold a book and changed his story. Reed could have given a voice to a juror more representative of the group, such as Pauline Coccoz. In a 2017 interview for Fox news, she says she was ready to find Jackson guilty if the accusations proved true, especially since she’s the mother of 3 boys. Here’s her words:

“For me, it was a real sensitive spot,” “I took it kind of personal in a way that you would never want something like that to happen to your children. So I really didn’t think or care that he was Michael Jackson. If he was doing these things that he was being accused of, I didn’t feel that I had any problem finding him guilty if that was the case."

But Coccoz says the credibility of the whole Arvizo family was horrible, and says that if the trial were today, she would still stand by her not guilty verdict based on the evidence presented to the jury.

“It was pretty obvious that there was no molestation done,” she said. “It was pretty obvious that there were ulterior motives on behalf of the family. And the mother, she orchestrated the whole thing…that’s my opinion. But there wasn’t a shred of evidence that was able to show us or give us any doubt in voting not guilty. "

Article by legal analyst Jonna Spilborg on how the Jackson jury got it right

Interview with one of the Jackson jurors who believed Jackson was innocent based on the evidence

Robson's treatment of alleged fellow victims:

In Leaving Neverland, Wade Robson expresses remorse that he wasn’t ready to help Jordan Chandler or Gavin Arvizo back when they made their allegations in 1993 and 2003. One of the reasons Robson says in his media interviews that he filed his lawsuit is to help other victims. But in the years after his disclosure when you might expect Robson to reach out to express this remorse to Jordan or Gavin, his actions convey no contrition. Robson’s representatives were aggressive in trying to serve Jordan Chandler a subpoena, when it was clear Jordan wanted nothing to with the case. Additionally, in his 2016 deposition, Robson says he never tried to call Gavin Arvizo after his disclosure 4 years prior.

Excerpts from Wade Robson's video deposition

Wade Robson in his CBS This Morning interview, in which he says he wishes he could have been ready to help Gavin Arvizo back in 2005, but is glad he is able to help now.

Contradictions regarding Robson's reaction at Jackson's memorial service:

When Leaving Neverland gets to Jackson’s death and funeral, here’s how Joy Robson describes her son’s reaction:

“Wade sobbed at the memorial service like I’ve never heard anyone sob, put his head in his hands and sobbed and sobbed.”

Wade also talks in the film about how he cried at the memorial service, and he says it was the last time he cried over Jackson’s death. Dan Reed recorded Wade making this statement February 2017. However, just 2 months before that interview with Reed, Wade was asked in his deposition for his lawsuit if he cried at Jackson’s memorial service. Here’s Wade’s sworn testimony in December: “I might have, I don’t remember.” His responses seem to depend on what narrative he is trying to convey.

Article noting that Dan Reed's interviews with Robson and Safechuck were in February 2017, only 2 months after Robson's deposition for his lawsuit.

Wade Robson's video deposition, where he says he can't remember if he cried at Jackson's memorial service.

Articles regarding Wade's alleged affair with Britney Spears:

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Robson goes into opportunistic mode after Jackson's death:

In their letter to HBO, the Jackson Estate refers to Robson's attempts at being a part of all the Jackson tribute projects after Jackson's death--his letters are included in exhibits included with his deposition testimony.

A Michael Jackson Allegations website article about Robson's actions after Jackson's death.

Deposition Transcript of Wade Jeremy William Robson (December 12, 2016),

where Robson confirms the actions described in the Jackson Estate letter to HBO.

The Michael Jackson Opus, which includes Wade's comment about Jackson, "He's one of the reasons I believe in the pure goodness of humankind."

Brandi Jackson interview with John Zeigler

This interview includes her comments about how Wade and his mom each called her after Jackson's death, asking to get together with Jackson's kids. Brandi says Wade's mom implied that she should have custody of Jackson's kids, not their grandmother.

Brandi's tweets about Wade after Leaving Neverland was released:

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Taj Jackson contacted by Robson after Jackson's death

Taj Jackson said he was also contacted by Wade after Jackson’s death, asking if he could help Taj with his tribute movie. Similar to Brandi’s story, Wade requested time with Jackson’s kids, even though he had little to no connection with them before Michael’s death. Taj has posted a 2009 text message from Wade, asking to get together with Jackson’s kids. He talks about this contact by Wade in his interview with John Zeigler.

Taj Jackson's message from Wade asking if his whole family could attend the funeral

Wade listed out the family members he wanted to come to the memorial service. This contrasts with his sister's comments in Leaving Neverland that the Robson family "was contacted to come to the funeral," as if they were directed to do so.

Centers for Disease Control report stating that 20% of all adults will experience mental illness in a given year

The National Institute of Health reports that almost 20% adults and 32% of adolescents suffer from anxiety each year in the US

How celebrity may increase risk of mental illness

In a US News and World report article from July 2018, psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert is quoted on the subject of the factors of celebrity that may increase susceptibility to mental illness. He discusses how many of his patients have difficulty dealing with the anxiety of trying to succeed in a highly competitive field. "Entertainers and people in the public eye may feel greater anxiety, because they have the added pressure of trying to please the public. You're only as good as your last performance, review or earnings report. That can lead to burnout, stress, feelings of failure and depression."

Link between perfectionism and depression

In a study published in February 2018 in the journal PLOS One, their research found a strong link was between maladaptive perfectionism and depressive symptoms. Maladaptive perfectionism is described as having high performance standards and a tendency toward self-criticism, concerns about being evaluated negatively by others and worries about making mistakes. These perfectionism issues are the types of problems Robson wrote about in his blog.

Increased rates of mental illness in the entertainment business

A 2015 report by Victoria University in Australia found that performing arts workers experience symptoms of anxiety ten times higher than the general population, and depression symptoms five times higher.

Mental health of behind-the-scenes workers in entertainment

The United Kingdom's Film and TV Charity commissioned a survey, called The Looking Glass, to look at mental health prevalence and causes in work behind the camera, such as directors and producers, which were goals for both Robson and Safechuck. 65% had experienced clinical depression, versus 42% in the general population. 55% of film and TV workers in this survey had contemplated taking their own life versus 20% in the general population.

Link between mental illness and the entertainment industry

Links between mental illness and parental conflict

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Another factor that research has shown to increase the risk for anxiety and depression is living with parental conflict. Both Robson and Safechuck described parental conflict as a stressor in their growing up years.

There is consensus in the research literature that having children puts a strain on the marriage, and increased marital stress leads to an increased risk of mental illness such as depression:

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Having children increases stress and decreases marital satisfaction in the short term

Parenthood associated with decreased marital quality

Parenthood associated with increased rates of depression

Links between egocentrism and depression:

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Links between anxiety and egocentrism

Tony Roberts quote about mental illness and self-centeredness

"Mental illness can be one of the most self-centered ailments there is. By this I do not mean that people who battle mental illness are necessarily self-centered. No, I mean the illness itself consumes our minds in such a way that we become unable to see beyond the realm of our own emotional pain."

Robson's burning memorabilia scene:

Wade already sold all items of value in 2011, before he says he was aware of abuse.

The Michael Jackson Allegations explanation of how Robson sold his MJ memorabilia of value in 2011 before his awareness of abuse:

Wade Robson deposition response to questions about selling items

In his deposition in 2016, Robson claimed that he sold the memorabilia items for around $50,000, but according to the records from Julian’s auctions, the actual total was over $100,000, suggesting that once again Robson was willing to bend the truth under oath. It appears that Robson was trying to minimize his financial gain from selling the items.

Brandi Jackson talking about her romantic relationship with Wade from about 1991-2000

(starting at around 15:00) She says they were almost always together, and if not together, than on the phone. She also describes her opinion that Wade is capable of such a deception based on her experience with him, and her observations of the entitlement mentality of the Robson family.

Thanks to the following sites for their collection and analysis of the court documents in Robson and Safechuck's cases, which helped guide the research for this episode:

The Michael Jackson Allegations

The Daily Michael

The MJJ Repository

Vindicating Michael

Special thanks to The Michael Jackson Innocent Project for posting the full transcript of Leaving Neverland, and a big thank you to the Swedish fans who created the transcript.

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