Michael Jackson accuser Wade Robson countered the Jackson family’s depiction of the late pop singer as a child at heart who innocently surrounded himself with children. On CBS This Morning today, Robson said, “I find it hard to believe that he had boys around for any other reason than to sexually abuse them.” (Watch the segment above).
The claims of Robson and fellow accuser James Safechuck are detailed in HBO’s upcoming documentary Leaving Neverland. The two men, who say Jackson sexually abused them for years when they were children, appeared on the morning show as the third part of the program’s three-day series on the film.
Today, Robson and Safechuck, appearing for the first time on television to discuss the film, explained their prior denials of Jackson’s abuse.
“Michael’s training of me to testify began the first night that he started abusing me,” Robson said, “in the sense that you know, that right away, after the first kind of experience of sexual abuse, he started telling me that if anybody…if anybody else ever finds out, we’ll both go to jail, both of our lives would be over.”
On this morning’s program, both men provided graphic and similar accounts of abuse they say began with Jackson grooming them for sex. Robson told CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King that within the first night or two of his stay at Jackson’s Neverland ranch, “Michael started to touch my legs and my crotch over my pants, and it progressed to him performing oral sex on me and showing me how to perform oral sex on him.”
Safechuck said Jackson “introduced me to masturbation,” taught him how to French kiss and then “moved on to oral sex.”
Both men said that, as boys, they felt lucky to have been chosen by Jackson.
Robson said “The feeling was, ‘Out of all the kids in the world, here I am and Michael chose me’ and he also told me that, you know, ‘I’ve never done this with anybody else.'” He added, “So that was more…Wow, he chooses me and he loves me.”
Asked King, “Were you frightened or thinking, ‘This is weird or wrong?'”
“No. No,” Safechuck said. “It’s in the context of a loving, close relationship so … there’s no alarm bells going off in your head or any thoughts like that. Really, it’s just, ‘I love this person and we’re trying to make each other happy.’ And he said I was his first. But even as a kid, you don’t even know what that means. You don’t — you don’t even question it further than that.”
Robson also noted that Jackson’s staff “were everywhere,” including secretaries and security guards who made sure a room for Jackson and Robson “was closed off and private so he could do anything he wanted with me. It’s hard for me to believe that people didn’t know, or at least people had to wonder what is going on, something weird is going on.”
Robson said his feelings for Jackson changed during the course of the multi-year abuse. “The abuse, for me, went from age seven to 14 years old. I remember feeling around 12, starting to be a little more uncomfortable about that. And sometimes maybe trying to change the subject or, you know, distract. But then having a fear that, ‘If I don’t do this, I’m already feeling like I’m not a favorite of Michael’s anymore. And if I don’t do this, what’s gonna happen? What’s gonna happen to our friendship?’”
Robson said he now regrets testifying in Jackson’s defense in the 2005 legal case brought by another of Jackson’s accuser, Gavin Arvizo. King noted that Robson is often credited with helping Jackson get an acquittal in the case.
“I wish that I was ready,” Robson said today. “I wish that I could have helped Gavin Arvizo receive validation…I wish I could have played a role in stopping Michael from abusing other kids.”
On yesterday’s CBS This Morning, Jackson’s family members again disputed the men’s claims, calling Robson and Safechuck “admitted liars” out for money. Neither men was paid for participating in Leaving Neverland, but they are appealing a dismissal of their lawsuits against the Jackson estate.
Asked by King whether they’d be speaking out if Jackson was still alive, Robson said, “It’s hard to speculate as to what would be the situation if Michael was still alive…If I could speculate, if Michael was still alive and all of the other rest of the details of my life were the same, meaning I became a father, right? And I went through the same process that I did of this realization and going through the healing process, my belief is that we’d still be doing this.”
Safechuck said, “I don’t know. Would I have taken this to my grave? I certainly planned on doing that. I had no expectations of ever telling anyone. So, you know if he, if he was still alive, yeah, I don’t know. Maybe I would have taken it to my grave.”
The two-part Leaving Neverland airs Sunday, March 3 and Monday, March 4 (8-10 pm ET/PT both nights) on HBO. Oprah Winfrey will interview Robson and Safechuck for a one-hour special to air on HBO and OWN immediately following Monday night’s HBO presentation of Dan Reed’s Leaving Neverland. Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland debuts simultaneously on HBO and OWN on Monday, March 4 at 10 pm ET/PT immediately following the second and final part of the two-night Leaving Neverland.