Neverland Ranch, Michael Jackson’s 2,800-acre personalized amusement park nestled deep in the valleys of California, may be Jackson’s most famous residence, but he had another home, known as the Hayvenhurt house, that was also well-known for all the wrong reasons.
HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” documentary draws back the curtain on one of the most disturbing, and polarizing, cases in pop culture history. Jackson was famously acquitted of child molestation charges in 2005, but the allegations of child abuse have lingered on, even after Jackson passed in 2009. Now, nearly ten years after the King of Pop’s death, two of his accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, have detailed their allegations in HBO’s new two-part documentary on the subject. Through their stories, it became clear that Neverland Ranch was certainly the center of both their and Jackson’s universes for quite some time, but the Hayvenhurst home seems to be where some of the alleged inappropriate interactions — specifically, the alleged growing attraction and predatory grooming — first began.
Jackson’s Hayvenhurst house, a sprawling compound in Encino, California, had served as the Jackson family home since 1971, when the patriarch of the family, Joe Jackson, first purchased it, Curbed Los Angeles reports. The Daily Beast described the house as having fallen into a state of disrepair in 2009, after having been the place where Jackson lived during numerous career milestones, including the release of two of his most well-known albums, “Thriller” and “Off The Wall.” Footage included in the HBO doc seems to have been recorded before much of the Jackson family filtered away from the property; instead of the dusty surroundings described in The Daily Beast’s report, aerial video shows immaculately kept grounds, hidden from view by the surrounding trees.
Safechuck recalled during part one of the documentary when Jackson first invited him and his family to have dinner with him at the famous Hayvenhurst house, before the alleged abuse began. He described it as a largely positive experience at the time, even though his visits with Jackson would allegedly soon take a turn for the traumatic.
“Going to Hayvenhurst, it felt magical, I guess,” he said. “The house is beautiful. It had a recording studio so we went in there, and I think we saw his brothers and said hi.”
Jackson’s home also had a dance studio where he practiced his moves, and a private movie theater, where he was able to watch films that had not yet been released to the public, Safechuck said.
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“You’re just starstruck,” he said of his family’s first meeting with Jackson. “And then at the same time, he’s becoming a real person. He’s not this sort of, like, two-dimensional icon. He gives you focused attention, and I think at that age, you want to be important. You want to be noticed and loved, so it was a powerful attraction.”
But what started out as play dates, which Safechuck described as “hanging out with a friend that’s more your age, so it feels natural,” turned inappropriate once Jackson moved into his own private residence — what would become known as Neverland Ranch — the year of his thirtieth birthday, in 1988, according to The Daily Beast. It was there that Jackson is alleged to have abused Safechuck and Robson, on separate occasions. Recalling the beginnings of his physical relationship with Jackson, Safechuck recalled having sex with Jackson “every day” that he was with him at the ranch.
Jackson’s estate and remaining family members have fiercely denied the claims laid out in HBO’s newest offering, and have filed a lawsuit against the network, alleging that they violated a contract from 1992 that included a clause forbidding them from disparaging the Jackson name.
A number of Jackson’s brothers and his nephew defended Jackson and slammed the documentary in an interview with “CBS This Morning” last week, accusing the film of “not telling the truth.”
“We know our brother. Michael wouldn’t do anything like that,” Jackson’s brother Marlon said.
[Photo: Getty Images]
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