In their first television interview since the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, Tito, Marlon, Jackie, and Taj Jackson are advocating for Michael Jackson’s innocence.
As part of a two-part interview special, the Jackson family sat down with Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” to respond to claims that Jackson sexually abused young children at his Neverland Ranch. Following the airing of the Jackson’s interview on Wednesday, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, the two men involved in Jackson’s 2005 trial and the subjects of the HBO documentary, will share their side of the story in an interview with King set to air on Thursday.
Since the documentary debuted at Sundance last month, the Jackson family has spoken out against the film, calling it “a public lynching.” The Jackson estate also released a formal statement referring to the movie as “a one-sided marathon of unvetted propaganda to shamelessly exploit an innocent man no longer here to defend himself.”
None of the Jacksons who sat for the interview have watched the documentary, they said in a clip of the interview released on Tuesday. “I trust my attorney,” Marlon said.
Asked if they ever found it odd that Jackson shared a bed and took part in slumber parties with young children, the family explained their reasoning for defending the late pop star.
“No. I know my brother. He’s my little brother. I know my brother. He’s not like that,” Jackie said.
Jackson’s nephew Taj, who claims to have been present at many of Jackson’s sleepovers as a child, said there was never ill intentions and that Jackson’s own kids were often present.
“I grew up in it, so for me it wasn’t odd,” he said. “To the outside world, yes, I think it can be odd. I mean, I’m not oblivious to what it sounds like. But when you’re actually there in that atmosphere and you’re around it, and you’re watching movies, whether, with his kids, whether it’s ‘Little Rascals’ or ‘Three Stooges,’ and you’re watching these things, it’s like, it’s very innocent.”
Taj went on to defend his uncle further, saying, “I think the fault on my uncle was he just, he didn’t have that bone in his body to look at it the other way. And I think that was the thing, is that his naiveté was his downfall in a way.”
Last week, the Jackson estate sued HBO on grounds that the studio is in violation of a non-disparagement clause that was present in previous TV specials about Jackson. HBO has said its plans to air the documentary have not changed.
In the years since the original trial, both Robson and Safechuck have also brought lawsuits against the Jackson estate on the grounds that they were forced into lying under oath by the Jackson family — but both cases were thrown out due to the statute of limitations. They are both currently seeking appeals.
The Jackson family claims that Safechuck and Robson are coming forward for money.
“It’s always been about money,” Taj said. “I hate to say it: when it’s my uncle, it’s almost like they see a blank check.”
Marlon Jackson said the documentary “is not telling the truth,” adding that “there has not been not one piece of evidence that corroborates their story.”
“Leaving Neverland” is slated to air in two parts on March 3 and 4 on HBO.