Feldman, who maintains “nothing inappropriate” ever occurred between him and Jackson during their years-long friendship, initially criticized the documentary for being one-sided after the first installment aired on Monday night.
The former child star changed his stance in an interview with CNN’s Headline News on Wednesday after sparking online backlash, saying that as a survivor of sexual abuse and champion for victims everywhere, he can “no longer defend” Jackson.
“I cannot in good consciousness defend anyone who’s being accused of such horrendous crimes, but at the same time, I’m also not here to judge him, because, again, he didn’t do those things to me and that was not my experience,” he told Headline News. “My place is not to be the judge and is not to be the accuser and not to be the defender.”
Feldman, 47, has said that he and his friend and occasional co-star Corey Haim, who died in 2010, were molested as children in Hollywood, and Feldman has accused multiple men of abusing him. He disclosed the alleged abuse in his 2013 memoir, “Coreyography” and has since used his platform to call for ending or extending statutes of limitations for sexual abuse.
Describing the new allegations against Jackson as “shocking and disturbing,” Feldman asked viewers to “put themselves in my shoes” during this emotional time.
“You’re a kid who has endured sexual abuse, and during those times, I’m looking to somebody like Michael Jackson as a friend, as a big brother figure, and he was that person to me,” Feldman added in the interview.
“It comes to a point where, as an advocate for victims, as an advocate for changing the statutes of limitations to make sure that victims’ voices are heard, it becomes impossible for me to stay virtuous and not at least consider what’s being said and not listen to what the victims are saying. This is very important,” he continued. “We must give them their voice. We must allow them to speak. And therefore, we also must consider all sides of this, even as uncomfortable as that may be.”
In “Leaving Neverland,” two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, allege in harrowing detail that Jackson sexually abused them as boys for years after he befriended them at the height of his career.
The Jackson estate has fiercely denied the claims made in the documentary, describing it as a “public lynching” and noting that both men previously testified under oath that no such abuse occurred. The estate is now suing HBO for $100 million, claiming the network breached a nondisparagement clause in a 1992 contract.
“As I’m watching it, I’m going, ‘This doesn’t make sense to me. This isn’t the guy that I knew,’” Feldman said. “But look, I’m a guy that at 14 years old was molested, did have a pedophile completely lie to me about who he was. I trusted him. I believed in him as a friend, and I thought he was a good person, and then he molested me. It all proves that I’m not the best judge, and that’s why I shouldn’t be the judge in this situation, and especially given the fact that I’m so close to [Jackson].”
After the discussion, Feldman posted on Twitter that the interview was the “hardest” he has done since Haim’s death and reiterated that he stands with all victims.
“ITS A HORRIBLE POSITION 2 B IN, BUT NOTHING IS WORSE THAN BEING A VICTIM W/O A VOICE!” he wrote. “THANK U 2 ALL OF U WHO CONTINUE 2 SUPPORT MY MISSION.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the title of Feldman’s memoir.