She admitted to courting controversy with her new special “After Neverland,” an interview with two men who have alleged that the singer sexually abused them when they were young boys.
Winfrey said: “I’m gonna get it,” during a taping of the broadcast on Wednesday at the New York Times Center, reports the New York Post.
But, she argued, the issue of sexual abuse was too important to remain silent about, despite her programme likely to anger the “gloved one’s” fans.
She told an audience of more than 100 abuse survivors: “This movie transcends Michael Jackson. It allows us to see societal corruption.”
Winfrey also warned: “Beware of people who just want to be around your children.”
Her special will air on March 4, after the second and final episode of the upcoming HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” a four-hour investigation into the claims of Jackson accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
Dan Reed’s Leaving Neverland is a two-part documentary exploring the experiences of Safechuck, at the age of ten, and Robson, then aged seven, who were both befriended by Jackson.
Both accusers are now aged in their 30s.
Beware of people who just want to be around your children.
Channel 4 is airing the documentary on March 6 and 7 in two parts.
Winfrey made it clear that she believes the men’s allegations, but the Jackson estate has pushed back against the star's accusers, dismissing them as “opportunists” and “perjurers.”
The talk show host was joined on stage by the two men and by Leaving Neverland's British director Dan Reed for a talk that included moments of tears, stories of horror, and a series of final cathartic hugs, reports the NYP.
Before going public with his abuse claims in 2013, Robson was one of Jackson’s most vociferous defenders, denying the pop star had ever behaved inappropriately and serving as a key defense witness in Jackson’s 2005 child molestation trial.
Safechuck testified that he was never abused as part of the singer’s 1993 molestation trial, but declined to testify on his behalf in the follow-up trial.
Both men say they were groomed by Jackson to stay quiet — he repeatedly told them that their lives would be ruined if they broke their silence.
Accused of seeking financial gain
“He told me it was love,” said Robson. “He told me God brought us together.”
But Jackson's many supporters claim that Robson and Safechuck are trying to get rich.
They cite as evidence the fact that the men’s lawsuits seeking damages from the estate were dismissed because of statutes-of-limitations issues.
Safechuck and Robson denied to Winfrey that they were seeking financial gain, with Reed adding that the men are not being compensated for their involvement in the documentary.
The director told Winfrey that Leaving Neverland wasn't just about Jackson's alleged crimes, it documents the ways that sexual predators groom young boys.
In the case of Jackson, the pop singer’s celebrity and wealth allowed him to attract families with young children and to deflect their questions when he spent an inordinate amount of time with their kids.
Winfrey and others expressed disbelief that no one else knew what was going on.
To which Robson replied: “It was very rare that Michael was alone."
They’ve not only had to contend with a combative Jackson Estate and angry fans of the singer — Robson has also received death threats.
However, Robson and Safechuck were warmly received by Winfrey's audience, as they had suffered similar traumas.
A version of this article first appeared in New York Post.
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