Michael Jackson’s family is standing by the late singer ahead of the release of HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” documentary, insisting that there was nothing “odd” about him inviting boys to slumber parties at his Neverland ranch.
“I grew up in it, so for me, it wasn’t odd. I think to the outside world, yes, I think it can be odd,” Jackson’s nephew Taj Jackson told “CBS This Morning” host Gayle King in an interview that aired Wednesday. “I mean, I’m not oblivious to what it sounds like.”
The four-hour HBO documentary, which details Jackson’s alleged history of child sexual abuse, shook audiences at last month’s Sundance Film Festival.
Taj Jackson, however, insisted his uncle’s parties were “very innocent,” and claimed Jackson’s “naiveté” prevented the singer from understanding why they could be inappropriate.
“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,” Taj Jackson said. “His naiveté was his downfall, in a way.”
Michael Jackson’s brother Jackie said that the singer “was all about bringing the world together, making kids happy. That’s the kind of person he was.”
For decades, the family has defended Jackson against allegations that he sexually molested boys while mentoring them. Two accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, are subjects of the documentary, set to air Sunday and Monday.
Jackson’s family, estate and some of his most ardent fans launched a campaign to discredit the documentary since it premiered at last month’s Sundance Film Festival. They point out among other things that Robson and Safechuck both defended Jackson against other sexual abuse claims.
Both men, who have said they had close relationships with Jackson and saw him as a mentor, have maintained they didn’t realize until they were adults that Jackson’s behavior was abuse.
Jackson’s family, which released a statement last month attacking the filmmakers and accusers as “opportunists,” on Wednesday again suggested that they were in it for the money.
“It’s always been about money,” Taj Jackson said. “When it’s my uncle, it’s almost like they see a blank check.”
“Leaving Neverland” director Dan Reed has repeatedly insisted that neither Robson nor Safechuck were paid to tell their stories in the film.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.