Jackson biographer says 'Leaving Neverland' discrepancy changes film's narrative
In Dan Reed's film, James Safechuck says was allegedly sexually assaulted by Jackson at his Neverland ranch until the age of 14 between 1988 and 1992.
LONDON - Michael Jackson biographer Mike Smallcombe says the discrepancy he has found in James Safechuck's abuse allegations against Jackson in the Leaving Neverland documentary "changes the entire narrative the film is trying to give" viewers.
In Dan Reed's film, James described how he was allegedly sexually assaulted by Jackson at his Neverland ranch until the age of 14 between 1988 and 1992 after the singer befriended him after they starred in a Pepsi commercial together.
Among the locations where he claims the assaults took place is the train station at Neverland.
However, Smallcombe - who penned the book Making Michael: Inside the Career of Michael Jackson - has found the construction permit issued on 2 September 1993, which states that construction work on the train station did not begin until after that date and did not open until 1994.
The film's director Reed accepted the validity of the station construction date in the permit but explained away the discrepancy by claiming the date that is wrong "is the end of the abuse" but Smallcombe insists his discovery throws doubt on all of Safechuck's allegations.
Speaking to Australian breakfast TV show Sunrise, the journalist-and-writer said: "I can't say for sure that James Safechuck and Wade Robson are lying about the entire thing, but what I can say is that at least three aspects of their allegations that are featured in that documentary are provably untrue. The train station claim from James Safechuck being the big one. He alleges that the abuse went from 1988 to 1992 and he said during the documentary that he was abused at the Neverland train station, he went into great detail about how it happened in a room upstairs in that train station, it wasn't just a fleeting comment in that documentary it was a big part of it and it can now be proven through documents and photos that the train station didn't open until mid-1994 so that's a real two-year discrepancy there. It's not just a case of a dates being mixed up.
"Michael Jackson spent the whole year of 1994 living in New York City to get away from Santa Barbara because of the [Jordy Chandler] allegations and the DA going after him and also to record an album in New York, he moved there because of an earthquake as well and he was a bit scared to record in the LA area as well. But the point is by the time Safechuck would've been at Neverland again he would have been 17 or 18 years old so that changes the entire narrative that the film is trying to give us that Jackson lost interest in young boys once they hit puberty and, of course, Safechuck himself said the abuse ended when he was 14. It's not just a small matter it changes the entire narrative of that whole documentary, it's a big deal."
Smallcombe admits he was surprised that filmmaker Reed chose to casually deal with the information he had uncovered in a seemingly flippant manner on Twitter when it is such a key part of Safechuck's story.
He added: "It surprised me that he did on Twitter in the way that he did, just a fleeting reply to me, it's crazy that he did it on Twitter. But it didn't surprise me [that he accepted it] because it's undeniable, he can't deny the discrepancy there, he had to agree that the dates were wrong."
Smallcombe also uncovered evidence that Wade Robson's timeline of events in his allegations of sex abuse at the hands of the Thriller singer were disproved by his own mother in historic court documents.
The choreographer alleges in the HBO documentary that the late King of Pop - who died in 2009 at the age of 50 - that the abuse started from the first time he and his family visited Neverland when he was just seven-years-old when his sister and parents went to visit the Grand Canyon leaving him alone with the musician for five days.
However, Smallcombe discovered a court testimony from 1993 in which his mother Joy stated that Robson did join them on their trip.
Smallcombe insists during all the time he spent interviewing over 60 of Jackson's associates including managers, lawyers, music executives, producers, musicians and engineers for his book and all the research he carried out he never discovered anything that would lead him to "believe he did these things".
He said: "I've never come across anything that would make me believe Michael did these things. I can't say for sure that he's innocent, of course, but I'd like to believe that he is and I've certainly never seen any cold, hard evidence to suggest that he's ever done anything like that through the years."