By Hollis Wormsby
This is an opinion column
It was really difficult for me to watch “Leaving Neverland” as a person who grew up the consummate Michael Jackson fan, but one who is still willing to face facts. Director Dan Reed’s piece is a shameful presentation of contested facts presented in a context to have them received as proven truth. The two main witnesses in the documentary, and the only people to claim abuse first hand, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, have both testified in court, under oath on multiple previous occasions that Michael Jackson never molested them. Their story did not change until Jackson died.
During my undergraduate days in college I was involved in a false identification case involving the robbery of a jewelry store. The store employee initially identified me as the suspect and I was arrested and held in jail overnight. Other than also being a black man, I looked nothing like the tall, muscular, black man with a shaved scalp who was ultimately charged with the crime.
When the case went to trial the defense attorney described how the store employee identified me and how the employee identified the person charged with the crime. In both statements the witness said she was sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the person she identified was the perpetrator. The jury came back with a verdict of not guilty because they felt the witness had no credibility.
I think the same goes for those two making charges against Jackson. They both testified under oath at the trials of young men who said they had experienced abuse at the hands of Jackson and said Jackson had never done anything inappropriate with them.
I also agree with those who claim this is yet another case of the public lynching of a successful black male figure. I do not know and cannot claim that Michael Jackson is innocent of all the things he is accused of, but I do know that he was tried in a court of law, that included sworn testimony from those now accusing him while he was living, and he was acquitted. And the man behind this new so-called documentary presented nothing credible or new in making charges against a man who has been unable to defend himself for more than 10 years.
And the only witnesses to justify this public lynching are two people who have already had their day in court and whose suddenly revised testimony would not be accepted in any court in this land. As a community we should be outraged. Or at least that’s the way I see it.
(Hollis Wormsby has served as a featured columnist for the Birmingham Times for more than 29 years. He is the former host of Talkback on 98.7 KISS FM and of Real Talk on WAGG AM. If you would like to comment on this column you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)