Michael Jackson child sex abuse allegations re-examined in new HBO documentary

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The King of Pop is back in the spotlight for his alleged past with children.

"Leaving Neverland," a new documentary airing this weekend on HBO, will feature two men who say Michael Jackson molested them when they were children.

"He told me if they ever found out what we were doing, he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives," said Wade Robson, one of Jackson's accusers who's featured in the film.

WATCH: Oprah Winfrey to interview Jackson accusers in post-film special
EMBED More News Videos

"Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland" will run after "Leaving Neverland."



The Jackson family, some of them cancelling their out-of-country tour to return and fight back, has denounced the film and the accusers.

"I do not understand how a filmmaker can make a documentary and not want to speak to myself or some of the other families that were at Neverland," said Marlon Jackson.

The Jacksons say Robson testified for Michael Jackson when he was acquitted of molestation charges in 2005.

"He was the star witness. He was adamant that nothing every happened," Taj Jackson, Michael's nephew, said of Robson. "When he testified that day, I thanked him. And he was like, 'It's the least I could do, you know. Your uncle has been so amazing to me.' So to see that 180, it feels like the biggest backstab that you could possibly feel."

It's impossible to predict if there will be fallout from the film, but there are questions after the series "Surviving R. Kelly" aired, and now the singer is charged. That backlash has recast Kelly's music for many.

RELATED: R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sex abuse, bond set at $1M

"We don't want to think the worst ever of our musical heroes when that art has touched us deeply, and certainly it has for both of them," said Jim DeRogatis, a music critic and author of Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly, which will be released June 4. "The dividing line is when the art reflects the misdeeds, when it is absolutely addressing them, and then we can't separate the art from the artist."

RELATED: 'I'm the one you ignore': Chicago writer tenacious in R. Kelly coverage that has spanned years

For example, DeRogatis pointed to lyrics in R. Kelly's songs, sexual songs that, at times, refer to the ages of those involved. He said Michael Jackson's music addressed when he was prosecuted.

But DeRogatis says the "scope" is different when you consider Jackson has had four accusers while R. Kelly has has 48 women come forward to the author.

He adds that it's natural for fans to feel conflicted and struggle to separate the man from his music.

"Being conflicted is good. Being conflicted is being alive and aware and thinking," DeRogatis said. "There is this mistaken assumption that the critic tells people what to think. The critic starts the conversation. As long as we are talking about it and thinking about it, there is no right or wrong. We just need to think about what we consume."

Those who know Jackson note another difference: The late pop star is unable to defend himself.

"How come they didn't come forth when he was living?" asked Marshall Thompson, who spoke at Jackson's funeral. "He's gone. Everybody is bringing up a lot of stuff when they're gone. You can't talk."
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.