Oprah Winfrey assembled an audience of 100 men and women whom she said were victims of sexual abuse for a post-Leaving Neverland special on Monday because “this moment transcends Michael Jackson. It’s much bigger than any one person.”
In After Neverland that aired on HBO and OWN, Winfrey said Director Dan Reed achieved in his four-hour miniseries what she tried to accomplish in 217 episodes of her eponymous talk show — the misconception about the kind of abuse endured by James Safechuck and Wade Robson at the hands of Michael Jackson.
The two-part documentary that began on Sunday and ended Monday night focused on Robson, now 36, and Safechuck, now 40, and their experiences with Jackson at the ages of 7 and 10, respectively. The Jackson estate has called the film “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death.” They are suing the premium cable channel, claiming it will “constitute a breach of a non-disparagement clause” from a previous contract.
“Sexual abuse is not just abuse, it’s sexual seduction,” Winfrey said at the start of the hour-long special. “It’s like a scourge on humanity. And it’s happening right now in families. We know its happening in churches, and schools and sports teams everywhere.”
“He told me it was love,” added Robson, who participated in the special with Safechuck and Reed. “He told me that he loved me and that God brought us together. Michael was God to me.”
Besides interviewing Robson and Safechuck, Winfrey called upon abuse victims in the audience to speak about their experiences. Among them was actor Anthony Edwards (ER), who said he was molested at the age of 14. “[What] you guys so beautifully represented here is that thing that happens to a young psyche who has allowed a person to become their everything. That person is your whole life,” Edwards said. “That person is inspiring, he was a mentor to me. The feeling was if I was to tell the truth, it would all shatter.”