What Oprah wants you to know about the Jackson abuse claims

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Oprah has weighed in on the controversy Photo: Getty images

Oprah Winfrey has publicly thanked director Dan Reed for his documentary Leaving Neverland, saying the director communicated in “just four hours” a message she had been pushing for 25 years.

Winfrey is herself a survivor of childhood abuse and has long advocated for reform and exposure around the issue. In After Neverland – a follow-up special to the documentary – Winfrey says the issue is far bigger than the late pop star, and praises the accuracy of Reed’s depiction of the complexity of abuse.

The documentary hit Aussie screens over the weekend and has since has sparked vicious debate online, with some arguing the documentary omits several key elements.

The host sits down with Reed and accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck in front of an audience made up of over 100 sexual abuse survivors to flesh out the issue, and in the powerful discussion she pulls no punches.

In After Neverland, Oprah sits down with James Safechuck, Wade Robson and Dan Reed Photo: OWN / YouTube

“In 25 years of The Oprah Show, I taped 217 episodes on sexual abuse. I tried and tried to get the message across to people that sexual abuse was not just abuse, it was sexual seduction,” the TV host explained.

She believes Dan Reed has accomplished that. The director was “able to illustrate in these four hours what I tried to explain in 217” the TV host says.

The long-time advocate says the documentary’s portrayal of the extreme deceit and manipulation inflicted upon the boys and their families hits the nail on the head when it comes to the true nature of child abuse.

“Child sexual abuse; even the word ‘abuse’ lacks accuracy. I’ve been saying this for years,” explains Winfrey.

“As young boys, these two men did not feel it was abuse until much later. When you’re a child — this is the message I want every parent to hear — you don’t have the language to explain what is happening to you, because you’ve been seduced and entrapped.”

Robson concurs with the superstar, admitting he had ‘no idea’ that Jackson was abusing him at the time.

Michael Jackson with 10-year-old James Safechuck on the tour plane in 1988. Photo: Getty Images

Winfrey is adamant that audiences must look beyond Michael Jackson, arguing a cultural reckoning has already begun and it must infiltrate every level of society if it is to work.

“It’s much bigger than any one person,” says Winfrey. “It’s a moment in time that allows us to see this societal corruption, this scourge on humanity. It’s happening right now in families, in churches, in schools and in sports teams everywhere.”

Some have leapt to the defence of Jackson, among them being Macauley Culkin and Jackson’s niece Brandi.

Oprah argues that despite this, the documentary is unarguably a powerful force for change.

“If it gets you to see how it happens, then some good will have come of it,” she says.

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