Michael Jackson’s friend admits singer's relationship with children was ‘weird’

Ellie Harrison
Michael Jackson prepares to enter the Santa Barbara County Superior Court to hear the verdict read in his child molestation case on 13 June, 2005 in Santa Maria, California: Kevork Djansezian-Pool/Getty Images

Michael Jackson’s friend, the journalist J Randy Taraborrelli, has discussed the singer’s relationship with children in a new BBC2 documentary.

In The Real Michael Jackson, documentarian Jacques Peretti asked Taraborrelli about the first time he saw the performer spending time with a 12-year-old boy, to which he replied: “I went out into his backyard and there’s Michael with this kid and they’re laughing and rolling around on the basketball court and wrestling.

“And it was so unusual. I asked him, ‘Why are you hanging out with this little kid?’ and he explained, “Because I like him, and he is fun, and he’s a good actor, and I feel I can teach him the ropes of how it is in the entertainment business.’”

Taraborrelli added: “I was straight with him and said, ‘I think it’s weird.’ Not that I thought it was sexual, it never crossed my mind that there was anything sexual about it, I just told Michael, ‘I wouldn’t have a 12-year-old friend, why do you? We’re in our twenties, why do you have a friend that is 12-years-old?’”

Despite his confusion about Jackson spending time with young children, Taraborrelli said he found it difficult to believe the sexual abuse claims made against Jackson in the 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland.

“It was hard for me because I felt there was a lot of acting going on,” he said, “but I know I brought my own bias when watching the show. I didn’t watch it with an open mind, I don’t know how anyone who knew Michael would sit there and watch it with an open mind.”

When Peretti said accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck looked “like they were telling the truth”, Taraborrelli replied: “I think I would have felt that way if it wasn’t Michael they were talking about.”

In Leaving Neverland, Robson and Safechuck share detailed claims against Jackson, alleging that he abused them when they were young boys. Jackson’s family has denied the allegations.

The Real Michael Jackson was given three stars by The Independent’s critic Ed Power, who said the story it tells is “dishearteningly familiar”.

Read more

We don't need another documentary about the 'real' Michael Jackson