Michael Jackson's family has defended the singer days before the premiere of the explosive HBO docuseries "Leaving Neverland", which focuses on longtime accusations of child sex abuse against Jackson. The family said the documentary, which had its premiere at Sundance to great critical reviews, is an attempt at cashing in money from the late singer's estate.
The kin elder brothers Jackie, Marlon and nephew Taj came forward in Jackson's support and said his "naivete was his downfall" in a clip from an interview with Gayle King on "CBS This Morning".
The four-part documentary, directed and produced by Dan Reed, revolves around Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 40, who were close to Jackson and had sleepovers at his Neverland ranch when they were minors.
Taj said the singer's "sleepovers" with children had nothing odd about them.
"You know, I think, to the outside world, yes, I think it can be odd. I mean, I'm not oblivious to what it sounds like. But when you're actually there in that atmosphere and you're around it, and you're watching movies with his kids, whether it's 'Little Rascals' or 'Three Stooges', and you're watching these things, it's like, it's very innocent."
"But I think the fault on my uncle was he just, he didn't have that bone in his body to look at it the other way. And I think that was the thing, is that his naivete was his downfall in a way," he told King.
On February 21, Jackson's estate sued HBO and Time Warner over the film for USD 100 million, alleging it breached a non-disparagement clause dating back from a former contract.
Both Robson and Safechuck had defended Jackson in his infamous 2004, 2005 child molestation trial brought by Gavin Arvizo, then 13 but had filed lawsuits after his death in 2009.
They have spoken about the alleged sexual exploitation at the hands of Jackson in graphic detail in the documentary.
Robson, a child Jackson impersonator, says the abuse began when he was 7, while Safechuck, a former child dancer with Jackson, says it began when he was 10. Robson and Safechuck are looking for a payout.
"It's all about the money," Marlon said.
"It's always been about money. I hate to say it when it's my uncle, it's almost like they see a blank check. These people ... felt that they're owed something. You know, instead of working for something, they blame everything on my uncle," Taj added.
Asked if Jackson was ever abusive towards children, all three rejected the allegations.
"Never inappropriate," Marlon said.
King asked how they can dismiss the documentary when they are yet to see it. "Don't you need to see it?" she asked. To which Jackie replied, "No, I don't. I know my brother, he's my little brother. I know my brother. He's not like that... The people that really know him, they know the truth, too."
Marlon added he does not need to see the film because he "trust(s) my attorney".
"Leaving Neverland" airs Sunday