Leaving Neverland sparked huge discussion upon its debut, as Safechuck and Wade Robson revealed in painstaking detail the abuse they allegedly suffered from Jackson when they were children. But for all the support the pair have received, some have been vocally sceptical of their claims. Biographer Mike Smallcombe is among the latter.
Safechuck claimed in his lawsuit that he was abused from 1988 to 1992, when he was just 14.
Part of his account included the allegation that he was assaulted in an upstairs room of Neverland’s train station.
However, Smallcombe has obtained Santa Barbara County documents that confirm the construction of the station was not given the green-light until September 2003. It was completed in 1994.
When he posted his findings on Twitter, Reed himself acknowledged it – saying Safechuck got the end date of his abuse wrong.
“Yeah there seems to be no doubt about the station date,” he posted.
“The date they have wrong is the end of the abuse.”
Speaking to Mirror Online, Smallcombe said: “The train station opened in 1994, while Jackson was living on the other side of the country.
“The latter point is, by the time Jackson was at Neverland and the train station was actually open, it was early 1995, three years after Safechuck said the abuse stopped.
“And by then Safechuck was 17, and on the cusp of adulthood.”
Of course – no matter what Safechuck’s age – abuse is abuse, and this finding does not completely disprove his entire story.
But it has certainly fuelled those who have long been doubtful of the legitimacy of the allegations, and Reed’s response has been lambasted by Smallcombe.
The biographer added to Mirror Online: “Because the story has been debunked, it appears Reed is now suddenly wanting to change Safechuck’s timeline himself.
“Firstly, I’m shocked that he’s spoken on Safechuck’s behalf. And secondly, it’s embarrassing that he feels he has to now change the narrative of the film – which is that the alleged abuse stopped in 1992 – all because part of it has been disproved.
“That’s what happens when you take allegations like that at face value, and make no attempts to scrutinise and investigate whether they are true.”
Despite widespread discussion on Leaving Neverland, Jackson’s sales do not appear to have been affected: in fact his album climbed the UK charts last month.
The artist died in 2009 at the age of 50.