Executors for Michael Jackson’s estate have filed a $100 million (£76.7 million) lawsuit against bosses at U.S. network HBO over a controversial new documentary detailing sexual abuse allegations against the late singer.
The documentary, titled Leaving Neverland, centres on two men who claim the King of Pop abused them when they were children. The Thriller singer began long-running relationships with the families of Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck in the late 1980s, when they were age seven and 10, respectively. In the film, the pair speak about Jackson’s alleged misconduct and how they came to terms with it in their adult life.
While there has been considerable media interest in the documentary, which is set to air on the U.K. channel on 6 and 7 March and Sunday, 3 March on HBO in the U.S., Jackson’s family has been vocal in their opposition to the feature.
“I think we can all agree that the false allegations being made in your ‘documentary’ are ‘significant allegations’,” they wrote a letter, which was released to the Associated Press earlier this month (Feb19). “It is hard to imagine more significant accusations that can possibly be made against anyone.”
According to The Blast, estate officials have filed a petition to compel HBO executives into arbitration and have launched a $100 million lawsuit. They also argue that because Jackson has a “longstanding contractual relationship” with HBO, that a non-disparagement clause was violated.
“HBO breached its agreement not to disparage Michael Jackson by producing and selling to the public a one-sided marathon of unvetted propaganda to shamelessly exploit an innocent man no longer here to defend himself,” estate attorney Howard Weitzman tells the website.
“HBO could have and should have ensured that Leaving Neverland was properly sourced, fact checked and a fair and balanced representation,” he continues. “Instead they chose to fund and produce a film where they knew the two subjects had for many years testified under oath and told family, friends and law enforcement that Mr. Jackson did nothing inappropriate to either of them.”