The director of a documentary alleging Michael Jackson groomed and abused two young boys said the pop star cultivated an “innocent, child-like image” to get close to vulnerable children.
Dan Reed, whose documentary airs on Channel 4 Documentary tonight, said the film highlighted the extent to which paedophiles are able to form a lasting “bond” with their victims making it hard for them to come forward.
Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson and Me is based on the testimony of Wade Robson and James Safechuck who describe in graphic detail the abuse they say they suffered from from a young age.
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Speaking to talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer, Mr Reed said: “Most of us are not really aware of how a grooming paedophile seduces children, and the way they do it is by creating a bond. It’s not just the sex its a bond of love, affection, and dependency.
“People don’t break that silence, instead it’s a terrible secret that’s kept because there’s love, shame and fear - Jackson told them they would go to prison if they told anyone.
"It wasn’t until Wade Robson had a little boy of his own that he realised it wouldn’t be right for that little boy to be subjected to the kind of sexual activity that Jackson did with him."
Jackson became 'part of their families'
The Neverland Ranch, where the abuse allegedly took place.
Mr Reed said the singer’s eccentric public persona was carefully cultivated to get close to the young boys.
“The boys’ mothers were told the lie that he was an innocent childlike person who had never had a childhood.
“Jackson would tell them how lonely he was and they believed it and even developed maternal feelings towards him.
“He became part of their families and stayed at their home and hung out with them. This gave him access eventually to their little boys.”
The film has been dismissed as a “tabloid character assassination” by Jackson’s estate, who have launched a $100m legal claim against HBO for airing the documentary.