Leaving Neverland: What Happened in Part 2?

Wade Robson and James Safechuck explained why they lied in testimonies in the second part of the controversial HBO documentary

By Lauren Piester Mar 05, 2019 3:03 AMTags
Michael Jackson, Wade Robson, Leaving NeverlandHBO

HBO just aired the second part of its controversial documentary about two young boys and their relationship with Michael Jackson, and where part one was hard to watch, part two was hard to watch in a slightly different way. 

Beginning with 1993, when the first allegations against Jackson were made, part two worked to explain why James Safechuck and Wade Robson testified that they were not abused for so long before they changed their story, and how the alleged abuse affected them and their families as they grew into adults. 

Alongside footage of actual testimony and interviews and news coverage of the trials, both in 1993 and 2005, the documentary allowed James, Wade, their mothers, and the rest of their families to share their stories about the years after the alleged abuse. Robson said that around 1993, he was still occasionally sleeping over at Neverland Ranch, but no longer by himself. He recalled seeing Jordan Chandler, who would be the first to publicly accuse Jackson of molestation, go into the bathroom alone with Jackson multiple times. 

Below are the biggest quotes from the second part of the documentary. 

Renewed or Canceled: TV Show Fates Revealed

Wade Robson on the time police knocked on his door, the first time someone ever asked him directly if Michael Jackson touched him: 

"Without flinching, without batting an eyelash, my answer was no, no way. Absolutely not. 'Did he ever touch you here? Did he ever show you pornography?' All of those sorts of questions. Over and over again, without flinching, my answer was no, absolutely not, never." 

"Soon as the cop started asking me these questions, the first thing that came to mind for me was everything Michael started saying to me when I was seven," Robson said. "If anyone ever found out that we were doing any of these sorts of things, these sexual things, that he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives. It was terrifying." 

"Now all of a sudden, once this Jordie case kind of exploded in the press, every day he would call," Robson said, and the film had a copy of one of the voicemails, in which Michael, jumping in and out of a fake Australian accent, asked if he wanted to see a movie the next day. "After these phone calls had been going on for a while, that were really similar each one and just the same sort of talk and what I understand now as sort of coaching sessions." 

"I was excited by the idea of being able to defend him, and being able to save him," Robson said of testifying in that first trial. 

"I knew it was true, but I couldn't let myself go there," Robson said. "It was just like Jordie was the enemy. Michael told me that I had to lie, and that's what I did. I lied." 

James Safechuck on being coached to testify: 

"I went in to meet his lawyers for like a rehearsal. They did like a mock interview, kind of roleplaying the policeman or lawyer," Safechuck said. He remembered that during the sessions, they would tell him the investigators would tell him they had photos of what happened, but they didn't actually have anything. "It's like a ploy. They don't have photos, just tell them no. That's like the golden rule. Just don't tell them, and they don't actually know, or they can't prove it."

"I remember going in there and being very robotic. I mean, like I said, I had rehearsed it so much that it was just going through the motions. They asked and I said no, of course. Just like part of my job, to do that for Michael," Safechuck said. 

James and Wade's mothers on their reactions to the allegations: 

"I said to Michael, why is this boy doing this to you?" Safechuck's mother said. "He said, oh it's not him, it's his father, his father wants money. I asked if he was angry with the boy, he said no, I'm not angry with him, and I thought what a good man. What a good man Michael is! He's not even mad at the child!"

"Because we were so close with Michael, obviously I wanted to believe that [he was innocent], but more than anything I believed my son. I believed that he would have told me that something had happened," Robson's mother said, just after we saw a portion of an interview where she spoke about what a good guy Michael was. 

"That to me proves that all it was about all along was money. How much money would make it OK for your child to be abused? 10 million? 20 million? Oh, maybe. I said, to me, no amount of money would make that OK. If I thought that he had touched my son, I would not stop 'til he was behind bars," Robson's mother said after the 1993 case was settled out of court for millions of dollars. 

Why There Are No Winners in the Fight Over Leaving Neverland

On the gifts Jackson gave: 

"We wanted to buy another house, and Michael gave us a loan at a very low percentage rate. My husband had already had a deposition. We were on Michael's camp. My son also for Michael, and after that was all said and done is when Michael forgave the debt. Michael said no, I don't want you to pay me anymore, it's a gift. So he did buy us a house. 'It's just coincidental, he wasn't buying us off,' but the timing's right there. Just sounds bad. Yeah," Safechuck's mother said of the the "gift" they received in 1993. 

"He gave me a car when I turned 16. He was very much into filmmaking and I was doing my filmmaking classes. Michael tells you you don't need school, nobody who ever did anything good goes to school...'You don't need it, all you need is me.' He very much said you're going to be like a little Spielberg. Michael would fund these short films and I made those all throughout high school…He talked to my parents, because I was in some of the advanced classes, and he said you don't need math, so he convinced my parents to pull me out of the classes so I don't have to worry about studying and just focus on filmmaking. He would tell them, don't' worry, I'll be there. He was very much making you depend on him, like don't go get an education, I'll take care of it. And when he went away, just kind of derailed, and I was pretty lost," Safechuck said of his teen years. 

On Michael Jackson marrying Lisa Marie Pressly in 1994: 

"I remember Michael saying to me that he's gonna have to have these public relationships with women so that people don't think anything. He would always say that he would have to get married at some point, but it wouldn't mean anything," Safechuck said. 

"One day I got a phone call from Michael. He said Stephanie, I'm not going to be able to come over as often. It was a short phone call. Hung up, went to my husband and said we've just been dumped," said Safechuck's mother. 


This story from Wade Robson on his last sexual experience with Jackson: 

"Michael was preparing for his History world tour. I was brought by Michael's driver to the dance studio where Michael was rehearsing for me to able to watch rehearsal a little bit and hang out, and that night, he took me back with Michael back to the hotel. So I'm 14 a this point, and I've had a major growth spurt. I'm probably 5'11, so the same or taller than Michael. Just a whole different physical vibe. And at some point in the night, we slipped back into the routine, the same sort of sexual stuff, and I don't remember how exactly it evolved, how it moved to this next stage, but what ended up happening is Michael tried to penetrate me in my anus with his penis. Trying for a while, and I guess was able to a bit, but it was really painful, and too painful for me, so he stopped. I don't remember us like talking about it or anything like that, or acting like anything particularly different had happened, I think after it wasn't working, after it was too painful for me, we kind of went back to our regular sexual routine. The next morning, Michael had like a recording session to prepare for…he handed me some new camera that he had gotten that I could play with."


"[The next day I was] dropped off by his driver at my condo in Hollywood, and that afternoon, my mother receives a phone call from Michael's personal secretary that Michael wants to see Wade right away. I think I was picked up again by Michael's driver and brought to the dance studio where he was back in rehearsals. Right away he just went right into it, he was super nervous and said, what did you do with your underwear from last night? I said I don't know, I took them off and showered and put new ones on. He said you gotta go home and find them, and I don't know if there's any…there might be some blood on them. If there is you gotta get rid of them. Got back in the car and he drove me back to the condo, and luckily, not luckily, I guess my mother hadn't found them, hadn't tried to clean them yet. I found the underwear and there was some drops of blood on the inside. My blood. I grabbed them, stuffed them in my pocket, down into the garage, and threw them in the bin. That was the last sexual experience that I remember with Michael." 

A Timeline of the Michael Jackson Abuse Allegations Examined in Leaving Neverland

Jackson married Debbie Rowe in 1996, and they had two children. Robson tried reconnecting with his father in 2001, but Dennis Robson committed suicide that same year. 

Robson also started working with Britney Spears, with whom he said Michael had an "obsession." 

"Michael was really interested in my sexual life with girls," Robson said. "I remember that just being really weird considering Michael and I's sexual history...I still loved him deeply." 

By the time the 2003 allegations came up, both Robson and Safechuck had found girlfriends to settle down with. 

"Secrets will eat you up. It sucks life out of you. Just deteriorates you from the inside, like a part of you is dead. It kind of took everything I had to function during the day, to let other people see me as a functioning person. It took a lot of effort to keep it together. And then I would go home and be a wreck, and I'm sure it was hard on my wife.

"I couldn't sleep. I would just have panic attacks about things that shouldn't give me panic attacks, and one of the weird things is not liking yourself and not knowing why. I didn't know why I had these problems or felt these ways. Constant anxiety and depression and not knowing why you're like that. When I was in my early 20s I did a lot of substances to help deal with it. At the time I didn't know that that's what I was doing. But then when I got off the substances and there was nothing to mask it was when I really noticed that I was anxious all the time," he continued. 


On being called to testify again: 

"Michael called, and I hadn't talked to him in a really long time. I had known about the trial, so I saw the pattern from before happen again. He called my parents and tried to convince them to testify for him and get involved. My dad was very much back to let's protect Michael," Safechuck said. 

"At some point I worked up the courage to tell Michael that I don't want to testify, I remember silence on the phone for a while. He said you know, I understand, it's really hard, and it's tough to go through this with all the media and everything. But we can't let them do this to us. We can't let them take us down. Us, us, us."

James on finally telling somebody the truth: 

"I was kind of breaking, like having a nervous breakdown. I didn't want to be involved, so I told my mom then that he wasn't a good person, and that I don't want them involved. So that was tough," Safechuck said. "I couldn't talk about it. I just said enough to not get them involved. And she never pushed." 

"Jimmy was over and he said to me, Michael's an evil man. And I said OK, I stood up, and I hugged him, and do you want to go get help…he was so afraid that I would tell somebody, super scared, like nervous breakdown scared. It was a begging sort of, you can't tell anybody. I felt that I had fucked up so much the first time, that I wasn't the mother that I should have been guarding him, he's coming to me with this truth that's killing him right now. I wasn't going to tell anybody. I could be there for him now."

James on the last time he talked to Jackson: 

"He got really angry at me, he threatened me…he threatened me with his lawyers and said that I had perjured myself years ago and he has the best lawyers in the world and they were gonna get me. I just said I don't want any part of it, you'll hear nothing from me. I was just trying to calm him down to get him off the phone. The last time I talked to him was near the end of the trial, and he tried again…he wanted me to testify. He went into a spiel about I'm sorry I haven't been there for you for directing and all that stuff, let's do something. I know I haven't been there, and I cut the conversation short and I said just don't call again, and I hung up. And that's the last time I spoke to him."

Michael Jackson Estate Sues HBO Over Leaving Neverland Claims

Wade on why he still wasn't speaking up: 

"The idea of this truth coming out and [his wife] Amanda knowing about it and my family knowing about it and everybody in the entertainment business in my career knowing about it…was just a ridiculous idea that was never going to happen in my mind. In my mind, my whole life would be over. If I questioned Michael's perspective that he was telling me about Gavin, then I felt like I would break. Like I couldn't be strong, as strong as I needed to be."

The Robsons tried to stay out of the 2005 trial until they were subpoenaed. 

"If this didn't go well for Michael, he was going to go to jail for the rest of his life. I was going to my grave with that truth of the sexual stuff that happened between Michael and I. There was no way in hell I was ever telling anybody in the universe, and that was period."

Wade on wrestling with the truth: 

"I can't imagine if I was Gavin or if I was Jordie at that time, no justice being served and not being believed by so many people. For Gavin, I wish I was at a place where I could tell the truth and be a comrade with him, stopping Michael and stopping a lot of other kids from being abused. I just wasn't ready, I wasn't able, when was 11 and when I was 22, and I remember feeling happy for sure that he was acquitted, that he wasn't going to jail. I didn't believe or understand that the sexual stuff that happened between Michael and I was abuse. I didn't feel like I was hurt by it, that it was anything bad that happened to me. at that point, it was…I loved Michael, Michael loved me, this was something that happened between us, that's it. I still had absolutely no understanding that I was affected, or any feeling that I was affected negatively."

Jackson died in 2009, and Safechuck's mother said she "danced" when she heard the news. "Oh thank god, he can't hurt anymore children. Those were my thoughts, and I danced. I was so happy he died." 

Wade's career suffered, even as he got his dream job to direct a feature film. He later had to drop out of the project. 

"The more success I gained, the less fun it became. It was just more about pressure." 

"I found a therapist trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. I went through the story of my life, and I went through the story of my life with Michael, but just the good parts, just the creative inspiration, the work, the friends, all that stuff….I was saying I don't know who I am, I don't know what I want, left from right, all I know is [Amanda] and [his son] Koa, that's all that makes any sense to me."

Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Safechuck suffered anxiety and depression. 

"They say time heals all wounds, but I don't think time heals this one. It just gets worse," he said. 

"I think the abuse symptoms intensify when you have kids, like it ramps up even more. And then you see how innocent kids are. I think having kids kind of shoves that in your face. He's getting closer to the age I was when I was abused, so that is difficult to deal with it and see, watch him kind of become you at that age."

As his son Koa got older, things changed for Robson. 

"I start to have these images of the kind of sexual stuff that happened between Michael and I, happening to Koa, and Michael doing to Koa what he did to me. And my immediate emotional reaction to having those images is just this rage, and disgust, and violent feeling. Like I would kill anyone who did anything like that to Koa. What I started thinking was how can I have such clear feelings, negative horrible feelings about the idea of that sexual stuff happening to Koa, but when I think about Michael and I and all that sexual stuff going on, I don't feel anything. That's probably kind of weird. Then I start thinking if I'm going to go into therapy, and try and really get to the bottom of what is going on with me, I probably have to talk about the sexual stuff that went on. I go in for a session with Dr. Shaw, all the stuff about all the allegations and Michael Jackson molesting kids and all that stuff, it happened to me."

Inside the Outrage Over Leaving Neverland and Michael Jackson's Complicated Legacy

Later, after his brother's wife had a dream that Wade had told them about being abused, Wade admitted it to his family. His mother was particularly shocked. 

"For five months after that, Amanda wouldn't allow me into their home. Wade and I would meet so I could see Koa. We'd have to meet in a park. I was so hurt. I'd always had such a great relationship with Amanda and all my family…this was the hardest thing for me to deal with. And I thought, she blamed me," she said. 

Robson decided to go public with his own allegations in 2013 with a lawsuit. 

"I had to defend the lie for so many years. I didn't want to do that anymore. I was just trying to declare this whole new life for myself based on the truth," he explained. 

An interview with The Today Show inspired Safechuck to reveal the truth to the rest of his family. 

"I had one job, I had one child, and I fucked up. I had all these months of loving my life with Michael…all those wonderful memories it was all based on the suffering of my son. My son had to suffer for me to have this life. My son is messed up today because of it, and I'm messed up today because of it..." Safechuck's mother said. "He took my son's childhood away. He took the man he could have been away. He was a pedophile. The word says it all. Pedophile." 

"If speaking that truth, other survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands of anybody could help in any way shape or form by me coming forward and speaking it, I wanted to be able to do that. I wanted to be able to speak the truth as loud as I had to speak the lie for so long," Robson said. 

The Jackson estate has denounced all accusations against Michael Jackson and has sued HBO over the documentary, though they had not yet seen the film. 

"This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson," the estate said in a statement to E! News around the time of the premiere at Sundance Film Festival. "Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. Safechuck and Robson, the latter a self-proclaimed 'master of deception', filed lawsuits against Michael's Estate, asking for millions of dollars. Both lawsuits were dismissed." 

Leaving Neverland aired on HBO.