MICHAEL JACKSON from two of his alleged victims point of view, is the subject of a searing new documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” about allegations he sexually abused boys.
“LEAVING NEVERLAND-THERE IS NO “AFTER NEVERLAND” FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE
The Monster We Didn’t Want to See in Michael Jackson.”
Michael Jackson’s denial of child sexual abuse was carried around the world, live. It was 1993. The live feed starts with a gaunt, pale, and high-pitched voice of Jackson quavering, ”It was a nightmare. A horrifying nightmare. But if this is what I have to endure to prove my innocence¬¬––my complete innocence––so be it, ” Jackson says.
It was December 22, 1993, and two days earlier investigators for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department along with the Los Angeles Police Department had photographed Jackson’s nude body after a 13-year-old-boy accused Jackson of sexual abuse. The boy described potential and specific identifying evidence of Jackson’s genitals, and the police were there to confirm the evidence.
Why I’m here…I left Michael Jackson in 1993 when The King of Pop had been credibly accused of molesting the 13-year-old boy. I believed the boy.
I went on national television, as a victim and attorney expert on child sex abuse and stated, “that in my opinion, Michael Jackson was a pedophile.” Jackson’s fans were outraged. I was banned for 10 years from cable news. I was criticized. Blackballed. Threatened. In Oprah’s words “I’m gonna get it.” I did ‘get it.’ It was scary and awful. I didn’t have Oprah’s power, wealth or cultural iconic stardom to fight back.
‘It is a scourge on humanity’: Oprah Winfrey DENOUNCES Michael Jackson while praising the brave men coming forward to say there were raped by the King of Pop’ in her intense interview with Michael Jackson’s accusers from ‘Leaving Neverland’. She knows she will be criticized for Hosting ‘After Neverland” Interview. “I’m gonna get it,” Winfrey said, per Variety. The talk show host argued however, that the issue of sexual abuse is too important to remain silent, despite how much it may anger die-hard fans of Jackson’s.
HBO in telling the heart-wrenching stories of two boys who survived Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse, the documentary plows deep into what Oprah calls the “scourge on humanity.”
Noting that “Leaving Neverland,” directed by Dan Reed for HBO, successfully conveyed the message that Oprah said she had ‘tried and tried’ to get across—sexual abuse was not just sexual abuse, it was also sexual seduction.”
“It’s happening right now; it’s happening in families. We know it’s happening in churches and in schools and sports teams everywhere. If it gets you, our audience, to see how it happens, then, some good will come of it”––Oprah Winfrey
“In 25 years of the Oprah show, I did 217 episodes about sexual abuse,” she said in her hour long special, dubbed “After Neverland,” which will air on HBO and OWN on Monday following Part 2 of “Leaving Neverland” and was taped in front of several hundred advocates and survivors of sexual abuse at the Times Center in midtown Manhattan.
I appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show telling my story of incest and sexual abuse long before the #MeToo ignited. I was one of the 217 shows that Oprah Winfrey did on the topic of sexual abuse.
(Here’s the link Karney on Oprah (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_Ov99pGqzU). During the commercial breaks, Oprah and I talked about her sexual abuse at age 9.
For me, the moment transcends Michael Jackson. Sexual abuse is a “scourge on humanity” as Oprah so eloquently put it. It is also a plague affecting the victim. A tattoo on our self-esteem, happiness, power, leaving us feeling shamed, guilty, responsible, unworthy. We feel invisible. If we were “worthy” and “seen” the abuser wouldn’t have done this to us. Used. A toy, an object of their sexual gratification. These feelings never go away. They can be modified, therapized, walled off inside of us purged to the far reaches of our internal abyss, but gone…not really. We can never leave Neverland.
I know how hard it is for my friends who have not been sexually violated to understand my pain, my anger, the devastation. It is unfathomable. Just like racism, homophobia, ageism, it is very hard to comprehend it, unless you have lived it.
I have been trying to convey the message that sexual abuse was not just sexual abuse; it was also sexual grooming, what Oprah described “sexual seduction.” I think Oprah and I both mean, seducing the victim into thinking they are special, loved, precious, and then the predator takes advantage of their trust to use the victim sexually for his sexual pleasure. It makes victims feel both powerful and loathsome. As victims, we traded our body, our private sexual pearl, for a trick. For something that looked like love, attention, specialness, but was tawdry, dirty, disposable, garbage. We see ourselves as the garbage they took, ate, and threw away. That’s the ugly shame. That’s the self-hatred. No matter how rich, how famous, how beloved by millions you are, there is always the dirty thrown away child within, screaming in pain and outrage.
The anger at women (especially our mothers) for not protecting us, for allowing us to spend so much unsupervised time with predators, perpetrators, and pedophiles like Jackson, including overnight stays in hotel rooms, private residences, car trips, outings. Beware of people who just want to be around your children. Predators are like lazy cats, who see tantalizing mice (children) cross their paths and greedily pounce when the opportunity presents itself.
Oprah sat down with Jackson just once, in 1993, and it remains to this day the most watched interview in television history with 90 million viewers. MJ worked his charm, the man/boy wonder with his high voice and seductively childlike, asexual demeanor. Enough to disarm, enough to allow parents to feel safe leaving their boys in his care. Enough to seduce us all into loving his talent and genius and confusing that with the monster we didn’t want to see.
Well, I did see the monster behind the glove, in around 1993 and voiced my opinion on cable news, that Jackson was a pedophile. He was at the height of his fame. The backlash was intense. I was blackballed for 10 years for speaking truth-to-power about the beloved ‘King of Pop.’ I can only imagine what his victims endured trying to hold Jackson accountable for alleged sexual abuse, child abuse, child rape and sodomy. There is allegation that there are more than 100 abuse survivors of Michael Jackson and still counting.
When Jackson was on trial in 2005 for child sexual abuse, a group of survivors and activists, Allison Arngrim (Little House on the Prairie-TV villain Nellie Oleson), David Keith (Officer and a Gentleman) and me, held a press at the trial for survivors. Along with Protect.org, we were able to change legislation in California to eliminate the so-called “incest exception” that allowed family members and close family friends, who had been convicted of child sexual abuse, the opportunity to be diverted into therapy instead of facing jail time and have their records wiped clean. The bill eliminating the incest exception entitled The Circle of Trust passed unanimously in California with Allison’s compelling testimony.
Sexual violence devastates American lives more than any single issue today because like the scourge that it is, it invades every cell, changes our DNA, invades our brain and can be seen on an MRI (Rochester University School of Medicine) and ravages our heart, soul, body, happiness and personhood.
Sexual abuse and assault have impact on every single one of us just as profoundly, as global warming. It’s a scourge. It’s the hurricane, fire, tornado, draught, environmental deluge that ravages survivors and the people who love us.
Why have we stayed quiet for so long?
It is the dirty little secret we’ve learned to keep silent. It is yucky, gross, hard to see, unpleasant to talk about or listen to. Personal, shameful, grimy. Our instinct is to turn away, shut our eyes, pretend it’s not happening to us, our loved ones, our families, our workplace, to our children on college campuses, in houses of God and in every institution in American from technology to coal mining. Sexual violence, child sexual abuse, incest, campus sexual assault, workplace sexual harassment affects every Americans’ economic health, quality of life, pursuit of happiness, emotional and mental health, our family life, our sex life. It impacts the GNP because it causes lost productivity, lost days at work, lost wages, sickens employees, causes underemployment, unemployment, soaring health and healthcare costs, costs of prescription drugs, contributes to incarceration, presents criminal justice issues, causes drug and alcohol dependency, increases suicide rates. It chars your sex life, ravages your love life.
It’s devastating and impacts victims’ ability to learn, impairs our ability to get educated. It affects our DNA and our brain function; it can activate dormant life-threating genes causing illnesses and even death. It costs the American people well over 100 billion dollars a year (1 billion a year in the State of Florida alone) (citation). On every level sexual abuse, assault and violence is at the very core of the many problems we face in America today. And guess what. There is no “Leaving Neverland” for survivors.
Think about it. Sexual violence in American (over 80-100 million Americans are survivors), every 98 seconds a woman or child is sexually violated, (footnote citation)
All dams eventually break and the waters of pain will rise and flood the banks.
I agree with Oprah… continuing to tell our stories, standing up and fighting for survivors, some good will come out of it.
“Being sexually abused at such an early age was the scar on my soul. But I feel like it ultimately made me into the person I am today. I understand the journey of life. I had to go through what I went through to be here. But now it’s time to take action to save the next generation of women and children from what we went the
Shari Karney is a survivor’s attorney. She represents victims of child sexual abuse by sexual predators such as a member of the clergy, a teacher, celebrity, sports coach, wealthy businessman or any other powerful person, Karney Law is here for you.