Michael Jackson’s family has made it clear what they think of new HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, calling it a “public lynching.”
“We can’t just stand by while this public lynching goes on, and the vulture tweeters and others who never met Michael go after him,” according to the family’s statement. “Michael is not here to defend himself, otherwise these allegations would not have been made.”
The statement followed one from the estate written shortly after Friday’s world premiere of the movie at the Sundance Film Festival:
“The film isn’t a documentary, it is the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death. The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact.”
The film alleges the King of Pop sexually abused Wade Robson and James Safechuck, now in their late 30s, when they were 7 and 11 years old, respectively.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed responded to the estate’s criticism, saying the film is more about the accusers than Jackson.
Reed also says the family is looking to protect themselves financially by coming out against the documentary.
“They have a very precious asset to protect. Every time a song plays, a cash register goes ‘ka-ching.’ It doesn’t surprise me that they’ve come out fighting in defense of their asset,” he said.
Check out Reed’s full response to the Jackson estate at The Hollywood Reporter.