2014 – James Safechuck

“For me the lawsuit was about fighting back for little James. Nobody faught for me as a kid, but now I’m old enough to fight for myself. So win or lose… that doesn’t matter. What matters is fighting. Its part of my healing process.” 
~ James Safechuck

In early footage from the Bad Tour James Safechuck was often seen together alongside Michael Jackson. At that point it was almost the image of Michael Jackson to have a little child – typically a boy – by his side.

In 2014 James Safechuck joined Wade Robsons lawsuit and said he too had been sexually abused by Michael Jackson through 5 years of his childhood. This was a very close relationship between the abuser and victim, so much that Safechuck says they even had a mock wedding in Jackson’s bedroom. Jackson had gone from worshipping James to cut off Safechuck quite badly when he got too old.

James had as an adult suffered with a lot of anxiety and continuous nervous breakdowns without really understanding it was connected with his abuse. He said it was no way to live. It was a constant depression. When he watched Wade Robsons interview on TV in 2013 he noticed his anxiety and panic heightened, and understood what had happened to Wade had happened to him too. “Thats me!”, he thought. He realized he had to come to terms with the fact he was sexually abused and it was taking a toll on him. Like Wade Robson he also had a new born child and through imagining seeing his daughter being used the same way as Michael did to him as a final realization that what happened to him as a child was a lie by Michael and he was an abuse victim. Its a very sad story that numerous of children go through, and it set up deep scars and trauma that lasts all their lives. In USA its said 1 in 6 boys are victims of child sexual abuse and 1 in 4 girls.

Neither the James Safechuck or Wade Robson allegations was reported too much in the media until they were approached by documentary director Dan Reed and agreed to do the Leaving Neverland documentary in 2017. They agreed to do it for no money. The documentary was released in 2019 at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Its recommended to watch the documentary Leaving Neverland in full to hear James story.
The “After Neverland” special on Oprah Winfrey is also recommended as it was intended like a broader discussion on child sexual abuse. The CBS interview and BBC interview are also good.

Recommended sources:
Safechucks Civil Complaint
Leaving Neverland
Leaving Neverland Q&A after Sundance screening premiere
After Neverland w/ Oprah 
Video Interview with Wade, James and Dan Reed on BBC News March 2 2019
Video Interview with James and Wade on CBS News March 2 2019
Interview with Wade and James Vanity Fair, February 21 2019
Interview with Wade and James Rolling Stones Magazine, March 1 2019
Interview with Wade and James Buzzfeed, March 3 2019
Interview with Wade and James Billboard, March 21 2019
Body language expert Janine Driver on James Safechuck in Leaving Neverland

Common objections to James Safechuck

James Safechuck claimed he was molested in the train station at Neverland. Problem is it wasn’t actually built yet in the timeperiod when he claimed he was abused! 

The train station-argument was a gift package for the Jackson defenders, and they have been milking it for what its worth. Many of them even act like this argument alone disproves James Safechuck’s whole story. It still remains a little bit inconclusive as of yet, and James Safechuck has of yet not given any statements, but there’s several possible explanations.

What is the story?
In the Leaving Neverland documentary there’s a segment where James says that Michael abused him several times in several locations around the Neverland ranch outside Jackson’s bedroom. He mentions exactly 8 places, a tipi tent at a Indian fort, in the upper bedroom of the arcade game building, an obscure attic in a secluded place, in one of the houses where Jackson kept a lot of his prizes and memorabilia, the movie theater that had installed bedrooms with beds, and a castle in the theme park and even in the jacuzzi… The eight of these locations James mentions is the iconic Neverland train station. Safechuck says there was a second floor with a bed, and Michael would bring him on the train station. 

An issue came up when Michael Jackson biographer and author Mike Smallcombe investigated and found a permit saying the train station wasn’t approved for building until September 1993 and he claims it couldn’t have been finished before early 1994. The problem is that if the station wasn’t up before 1994 this was supposedly after Safechuck’s abuse stopped which at least has been referenced a couple of places in his legal complaint to be around 1992. So how could Safechuck have been abused in a train station that didn’t exist at the time?

How can one explain it?
An “safe” reply is that abuse victims tend to get dates and locations wrong. This statement comes a now adult man looking back at something traumatic and painful that happened while he was still a child. Its consistent in sex abuse claims that you sometimes remember things wrong when it comes to times and locations. Its also consistent that abuse victims gets “discredited” for getting these kind of details wrong.

Oprah Winfrey was challenged with the train station-argument, and if she had wavered her opinion that James Safechuck was telling the truth. Her reply:

“I have not wavered. You know why I have not wavered? Because I’ve had girls at my school who were sexually assaulted and abused. And I have never won a case. The reason I have never won a case is because when you put a girl on the witness stand, and she can’t remember was it Thursday or Wednesday, it’s automatically discredited. When you’re in the midst of trauma, and terrible things happening to you, you might not remember the time. If you can’t remember the day and the time, everybody’s like, ‘Well okay, I guess it never happened.’” ~ Oprah Winfrey

The train station is just a very small detail in a much bigger and complex story, and just 1 of 8 places James mentions in that segment. While its not insignificant, to say everything stand and falls on the train station debacle is something only Jackson’s most ardent defenders would claim.

Its confirmed by many sources Safechuck did share bed with Michael Jackson many nights on the Bad tour and other trips in hotel rooms. James shared bed numerous nights at Michael Jackson’s bedroom at Neverland and Hayvenhurst, just like many children did. Michael Jackson has admitted to having children in bed (see “60 Minutes” or “Living With Michael Jackson”). Below we can see a picture from the Safechucks private photocollection of Jackson in a hotel room bed in 1988 he shared with James. There was no need for Safechuck to invent a fake place to be abused to make his story more plausible, because he shared bed with Michael Jackson probably hundreds of times. 

Could there be a more satisfying answer to the issue of the train station?
Perhaps. Its first important to note that in the Leaving Neverland documentary James Safechuck never says anything about how old he was or anything about dates at all when he talks about being abused in the train station.

The director of Leaving Neverland Dan Reed when confronted with this issue after seeing the permit of the building, explained James abuse probably lasted longer than he had earlier admitted to (or remembered). In 1994 James would have been 16 years old. While his complaint describes a fading relationship from 1992, there’s still meetings with Jackson in 1993 and 1994.

There exist a few pictures of James and Michael Jackson which would be after May 24 1994 since this was while Jackson had married Lisa Marie Presley. This is on the set for the HIStory promos where James was working under the pseudonym “Jimmy Andrews”.

In the Leaving Neverland documentary Safechuck shows a wedding ring from the infamous “private wedding” he did with Jackson. In an interview with CBS Safechuck explains this was at the very end of the timeline of his abuse. He explains he felt more and more replaced by new boys in Jackson’life and was getting insecure. Michael stopped taking his phonecalls and had stopped paying attention to him. Michael (apparently) did the wedding ceremony as a way of making him still feel special, but in reality he Safechuck was phased out and eventually replaced by other boys. (Which is typical for pedophiles as they prefer children before hitting puberty)

James Safechuck’s complaint also says says the abuse happened between “ten (10) to seventeen (17) years old”, so even if the train station was built in 1994 its actually not a problem for the consistency in Safechuck’s story.

The train station was built before the permit
When the issue of the train station came up there was a bit of a “gold rush” for people on both sides of the issue to learn when exactly the train station was built and when.

A very interesting revelation came up when someone listened to an old episode of the Michael Jackson fan podcast MJCast, where they had interviewed Harrison Funk, a photographer who tells stories about taking photos of around Neverland ranch. He suddenly mentions the train station.

Harrison Funk:
“I remember when they built the train station. I went up there to photograph the property, and umm, he wasn’t there, and I was up there photographing the statues. He had animals placed on the lawn in front of the train station. I was up there for three days just photographing statues, and also the train station and I get a message to call [Michael Jackson] and he said, “Don’t photograph the train station!”. I said “Why?” and he said “Just don’t photograph the train station!” […] Apparently he didn’t want the train station photographed because he put it up without a permit initially and was fighting with the county about it being there. Of course, they let it be there. I think you know whatever he had to do to make it stay. He made it stay.”

The plot thickens. It seems like Michael Jackson had built train station at Neverland for a time before he got the actual permit. It seems like the permit Smallcombe has provided was a “delayed” permit for a building that already existed. This story may also explains why there exist little photo or video evidence of the trainstation before 1994. Michael Jackson may have tried to hide the fact it existed to get out of trouble with the law. Other sources also says there was strict rules about filming or taking photos inside the ranch in general.

The details are still a bit unclear for how long it existed prior to the permit. Here both sides of the argument have a messy debate, and its not conclusive.

There’s aerial footage from Liz Taylor’s wedding in October 1991. The train station does not seem to be there by then. Footage from 1992 (around 4:16) exist though, and if we zoom in it looks like a foundation is being built.

Allan “Big Al” Scanlan who worked with the trains at Neverland ranch between 1990-2005 was asked about the train station. He reveals it was built by Uriquedez Construction, and estimates it was done “mid 1993”. (This means before 1994 when it was officially opened)

If it first existed in 1993 this is not an issue for James Safechuck’s story as he was 15 years old, and his complaint says the abuse happened up to seventeen.

The fans are now only clinging on to a quote in his complaint that says the abuse stopped around 1992, but as the quote above Safechuck say another place the abuse happened until he was 17 years old which means all the way to 1995. If the train station was around in the middle of 1993 thats within the timeline.

Safechuck’s own pictures of the train station
One last bit of information Dan Reed provided in an interview is that the pictures we see in Leaving Neverland of the different locations James Safechuck says he was molested are actually taken by Safechuck himself as a child.

Including two pictures of the train station. One outside and one inside. If that is true then its quite evident the train station must have existed while he was visiting Neverland and Michael Jackson.. So even if we can’t pinpoint the exact date the pictures prove it existed while he was there.

James said he was called by Michael to testify in 2005, but he was a “non-entity” in the trial according Scott Ross private investigator for Michael Jackson’s defense team in 2005.

Whats the backstory?
James Safechuck says in his complaint as well as in the Leaving Neverland documentary that Michael Jackson tried to call him several times around the time of the 2005 trial to get Safechuck to testify and to say was never molested by Jackson. Much like he did with Wade Robson – who did testify in favor of Michael Jackson. Safechuck said he refused and wanted no part of it, but Michael would call several times more and more desperate. James says Michael Jackson even acted angry and threatening at one point saying he had the best lawyers in the world and would “get” James Safechuck for perjury. Michael Jackson also wanted Safechuck parents to testify for him, but James told them not to.

The objection
In an interview for Nicole’s View with Scott Ross March 3rd 2019, who was a private investigator for Michael Jacksons defense team he claims this is nonsensical. According to him James Safechuck was a “non-entity” in the 2005 trial. Meaning he was not relevant for either prosecution or defense, refusing any of Jackson’s lawyers contacted James Safechuck. He claims there was no reason for Michael Jackson to call Safechuck either to defend him. He implies Safechuck was lying.

Is it true?
No, James Safechuck being a “non-entity” in the 2005 is not true.

The prosecution did have several witnesses ready to witness they had seen Michael Jackson acting inappropriate with many children outside of Gavin Arvizo. The Prior Bad Acts (1008 evidence) called into witnesses of seeing Jackson with other children as well. Among them Jordan Chandler and Wade Robson. Many did witness at the 2005 trial. There were two witnesses the prosecution wanted to present that had specific stories about James Safechuck with Michael Jackson. These two were Jolie Levine and Mary Coller. The judge ruled no to them testifying. The reasons is a little bit unclear. (Possibly because they weren’t as graphic as some of the other testimony, but thats a guess). Then there’s a story by Bob Jones who did testify, but were not allowed to tell his story on Safechuck. Beyond that there’s also stories from Mark Quindoy and Blanca Francia about Safechuck as well.

The police quite clearly suspected he was a victim of child sexual abuse. This means Safechuck did have relevance, even if the testimony on him wouldn’t be used. James Safechuck was also listed as a possible witness in documents before the trial. So indeed James Safechuck was more than a “non-entity”. It therefore makes sense Michael Jackson would try to call him to hear if he was on his side.

Lead attorney for Jackson in the 2005 trial Tom Mesereau was also asked in a 2019 interview if James Safechuck was contacted by Jackson or his lawyers. He said he was not sure, but didn’t rule it out that someone among the lawyers in the team could have.