When did James Safechuck realize that he was allegedly an abuse victim?

In Leaving Neverland we hear James Safechuck’s mother, Stephanie declare that she danced for joy when Michael Jackson died in 2009 because he would not be able to harm any more children.

But why did Stephanie Safechuck react this way in 2009 if her son only came out with his allegations in 2013?

Director, Dan Reed says that the answer is easy – it is in his film:

 “There’s this thing around of “Oh, well how come Stephanie knew about the abuse, how come she was dancing when Michael Jackson died when James told her about the abuse in 2013?” Well, that’s not the case. James told his mother about the abuse in 2005, and that’s clear in the film. He told her “Michael abused me” in 2005. If you watched the film with both eyes and ears open, that’s incredibly obvious and plain. That’s the bizarre thing; they don’t even seem to watch the film. A lot of what they’re saying is based on the letter the Jackson estate’s lawyer wrote before he watched the film. So it’s not a dialogue between the Jackson truthers and my documentary, it’s an internal dialogue within the community of Jackson truthers kind of convincing one another that “we gotcha!” when in fact, none of it relates to my documentary. It’s like people shouting inside some kind of cult temple and none of them ever look outside.” [1]

The problem is not that we did not watch the film (we did!), the problem is that Dan Reed did not seem to have read his subjects’ court documents. Because when you do read the court documents a lot more confusing timeline emerges.

But first let’s see the film itself. In actuality, in the film it is not claimed that James told his mother in 2005 that he was abused, on contrary to what Reed says above. (Maybe it is him who did not watch his own film?) It is claimed that James told his mother that Michael “wasn’t a good man” (according to James) / was “an evil man” (according to Stephanie). This is also what James claims in his declaration [2]:

(By the way, here James claims that the the “conversation” was just him talking to his mother, while in the film Stephanie claims that she asked him if he wanted help.)

So according to this narrative James told her mother in 2005 that Jackson was a “bad man” and that “something bad happened” – but not clearly that he was abused. Apparently, there were no subsequent conversations between James and Stephanie about this in the coming months or years to gain clarity about what is really meant by this or if James had allegations of sexual abuse. Apparently the claim is that Stephanie just knew from these vague remarks what it meant and based on that she danced when Michael Jackson died. This seems a bit over the top reaction without any definitive knowledge of abuse, especially from the woman who, on the other hand, laughed in the film when she described hotel room situations where her son might have been molested.

However, in one of James’s court filings it is claimed that James actually did tell his mother in 2005 that he was abused and as you have seen, this is what Dan Reed claims in the above interview as well [3].

But whether the claim is that James told his mother in 2005 straight up that he was abused or only hinted at it, this contradicts another narrative that Safechuck has, anyway.

On Oprah Winfrey’s After Neverland special Safechuck was asked the question when did he first realize that he was allegedly abused.

Winfrey: So when did you realize it was abuse? You all use the word freely now as adult men, but when did you start to think of it as abuse?

Safechuck: It wasn’t until Wade came out [in 2013]. I was really suffering, I couldn’t sleep at night, I would sleep for two hours and I would wake up and my body was buzzing and I’ll be up all night and I hated myself and I don’t know why. It’s like ‘Why do I hate myself?’ This intense feeling of hate – you don’t understand it. And then when I see Wade come out, you go ‘Okay, maybe there is a reason for this.’ And if there is a reason for this, now I can figure out what to do about it. But you don’t think it’s abuse.” [4]

There is more. In Safechuck’s Probate Court documents it is also claimed that Safechuck did not realize that he was  abused until after he saw Robson on television and went into therapy in 2013 [5].

The above paragraph also shows why Safechuck needed to make this claim legally that he did not realize that he was allegedly abused until shortly before filing his lawsuit: to try to get around statutes of limitations he had to demonstrate that his realization of abuse was still recent and so he could not have brought the claim earlier than he did.

In this petition Safechuck tried to make an equitable estoppel argument. Equitable estoppel is a legal doctrine that prevents that someone could take advantage of his wrongdoings in court. If a Plaintiff can establish the four elements of equitable estoppel it will get him around statutes of limitations [5].

As you can see, to fulfill the third element of equitable estoppel, Safechuck needed to establish a recent realization of abuse and to claim that he was “unaware of the illicit, non-consensual nature of these acts and the harm which they caused him until he sought therapy as an adult”.

When you learn about the legal background of these claims by these two men, you will find that many of their allegations are very much calculated to serve certain legal purposes. 

But that often results in contradictions, such as in this case. On the one hand James knew in 2005 that he was sexually abused, but then he did not realize that he was sexually abused, until 2013.

In another interview Reed attempted to explain away the discrepancy between James supposedly telling/suggesting to his mother in 2005 that the was abused and James not realizing that he was abused until 2013 by saying that he did realize in 2005 he was abused, he only did not realize that his symptoms were related to the alleged abuse.

“Another thing is, about James not realizing the abuse until 2013, what James didn’t realize until 2013 were that his psychiatric symptoms were related to the abuse. He did know that what Michael did to him was child abuse—that’s why he told his mom that Michael was a “bad man.” The fans are trying to find inconsistencies that aren’t really there.” [6]

As you have seen above, while in court documents Safechuck does claim that he did not realize that his symptoms were related to the alleged abuse, he also claims that he did not realize that he was a victim of sexual abuse until recent therapy. Eg.

“[I]t was only once Safechuck was able to realize with the help of a therapist that his symptoms and his breakdown arose from childhood sexual abuse and the relationship surrounding it, that he was finally able to begin to recognize that he was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. The still-recent recognition that he was a victim of Jackson’s sexual abuse also explains why Safechuck was psychologically unable to bring his claim until he did.

Moreover, he claims he was unaware of the illicit, non-consensual nature of these alleged acts until recent therapy.

In his declaration he also claims that he did not know what he claims happened to him was abuse and wrong “into adulthood” [2].

While here he does not put a date on when he realized it was abuse during his adulthood, but when he was asked by Oprah Winfrey about when he realized it was abuse he said “It wasn’t until Wade came out”.

But even if we accept Reed’s contention that Safechuck knew in 2005 that he was abused, only he did not know until 2013 that his symptoms were a result of that alleged abuse, they only run into more problems with that. Because what were some of those symptoms?

For example, Safechuck states in his declaration over and over again that all those years he lived in a constant fear and terror that he would be “exposed” and his “life would be over” if any of this would ever come out. He also claimed that when in 2010 he and his wife had a son “my fear of exposure became worse as I realized that now other people were a part of my life and I was dragging them into it. I began to see how innocent children really are, and to worry that I would have pedophilic urges.” [2]

So the story is now that although Safechuck knew that he was abused, but he did not know that symptoms like a constant state of fear, terror and anxiety of being “exposed” as a sexual abuse victim or worrying about having pedophilic urges towards his son were related to his alleged sexual abuse? Is THAT the story now?

Just how much logic are we willing to suspend for these accusers?


[1] Joshua Encinias – ‘Leaving Neverland’ Director Dan Reed on Refuting Michael Jackson Defenders, the Psychology of Child Sexual Abuse, and a Potential Sequel (March 17, 2019)

[2] Supplemental Declaration of Claimant/Creditor James Safechuck in Support of Amended Petition for Order to Allow Filing of Late Claim Against Estate (filed on March 18, 2015)

[3] James Safechuck’s Second Amended Complaint (filed on September 19, 2016)

[4] Oprah Winfrey’s After Neverland special (March 2019)

[5] Claimant/Creditor James Safechuck’s Opposition to Demurrer of the Executors of the Estate of Michael Jackson to Claimant’s Petition for Order to Allow Filing of Late Claim Against Estate (filed on December 3, 2014)

[6] Marlow Stern – ‘Leaving Neverland’ Director Compares Michael Jackson Truthers to Corbynites (March 15, 2019)

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