Dancer says Jackson sexually abused him as child
LOS ANGELES - Agence France-Presse
In this March 5, 2009 file photo, Michael Jackson announces several concerts at the London O2 Arena in July, at a press conference at the London O2 Arena. An Australian choreographer alleged Thursday that Michael Jackson sexually abused him for seven years as a child. AP Photo/Joel Ryan, fileAn Australian choreographer alleged Thursday that Michael Jackson sexually abused him for seven years as a child, a claim the late singer's estate described as "outrageous and sad." Wade Robson -- who testified at Jackson's infamous 2005 molestation trial that the star never touched him -- told a TV interviewer that the self-styled King of Pop was a "pedophile and a child sexual abuser." "He sexually abused me from 7 years old until 14... He performed sexual acts on me and forced me to perform sexual acts on him," the 30-year-old former dancer told NBC's "Today" show.
The allegations surfaced last week, when it was reported that Robson had filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on May 1 claiming "childhood sexual abuse" by Jackson, who died in 2009 aged 50.
The legal documents were sealed, shielding details of the allegations, although Robson's lawyer Henry Gradstein issued a statement saying: "Michael Jackson was a monster and in their hearts every normal person knows it." On Thursday, Robson took to morning television to explain why he was coming out with allegations which directly contradict his under-oath testimony at the 2005 trial.
"This is not a case of repressed memory... I never forgot one moment of what Michael did to me. But I was psychologically and emotionally completely unable and unwilling to understand that it was sexual abuse," he told Matt Lauer on "Today." Robson alleged that Jackson trained him with role-playing on the phone before his 2005 court testimony, in what he said amounted to "brainwashing" -- but denied being paid to say the things he said.
"There was no money, there was no 'You must lie.' Michael, when he would talk to me before these things were going on and he would call me every day as these things were happening, it was complete manipulation and brainwashing," he said.
Howard Weitzman, lawyer for Michael Jackson's estate, noted in a statement that Robson "has adamantly denied under oath and in numerous interviews over the past 20 years that Michael Jackson ever did anything inappropriate to him.
"He now wants us to believe that he committed perjury at least twice and has been lying to anyone and everyone about Mr Jackson since the early '90s so he can file a claim for money. "Mr Robson's transparent lawsuit comes nearly four years after Michael passed. His claim is outrageous and sad," he said.
Jackson's former wife Debbie Rowe also lashed Robson's claims, telling celebrity news website TMZ: "His publicity-seeking attempt is opportunistic and just oozes falseness." One of Jackson's nephews meanwhile took to Twitter to defend his uncle.
Taj Jackson, who father is the late singer's brother Tito, also revealed that he himself was sexually abused "by an uncle on my mom's side of the family when I was a kid.
Michael Jackson "was a support system for me and my mom," he said, adding: "That is how I KNOW Wade is lying. Because I AM a survivor." He vowed: "I will not sit back and let someone flat out lie about my uncle. PERIOD." Jackson, dogged for years by child molestation charges, was acquitted after the high-profile trial in 2005. But his career never recovered, and he died four years ago while rehearsing for a doomed comeback tour.
The singer's mother Katherine is currently suing AEG Live, the promoters of his would-be tour, for negligently hiring doctor Conrad Murray, convicted over the star's death from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol.