LOS ANGELES • A documentary set to air on HBO this spring explores allegations by two men who say Michael Jackson sexually abused them as boys.
In a strongly worded statement, the late singer's estate has rebutted the claims, calling the documentary "tabloid character assassination".
Leaving Neverland drew strong reactions after premiering last Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. Mr Wade Robson and Mr James Safechuck, the men accusing Jackson, received a standing ovation at the Park City, Utah, screening.
The four-hour film, directed by Dan Reed, details claims from Mr Robson, a choreographer who says Jackson began abusing him when he was seven, and Mr Safechuck, a former child actor who says Jackson began molesting him when he was 10. Both men allege years of sexual abuse, which they say took place at Neverland Ranch. They said they faced pressure from Jackson to keep the abuse a secret.
In its statement after the premiere, Jackson's estate said "the film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact".
The statement continued: "These claims were the basis of lawsuits filed by these two admitted liars which were ultimately dismissed by a judge. The two accusers testified under oath that these events never occurred. They have provided no independent evidence and absolutely no proof in support of their accusations."
Jackson's family released a separate statement on Monday, calling the documentary a "public lynching".
It added: "The creators of this film were not interested in the truth. They never interviewed a single solitary soul who knew Michael except the two perjurers and their families. That is not journalism and it's not fair."