Dan Reed, the director of HBO's harrowing documentary Leaving Neverland, has revealed that there's another chapter in the history of Michael Jackson's alleged abuses against children that he'd like to explore next: the 2004-2005 trial and acquittal of the pop singer.
In a discussion with The Film Stage, Reed said that he is interested in exploring the details of the 2004-2005 jury trial, in which Jackson was found not guilty on all charges associated after being accused of molesting a then-13-year-old boy named Gavin Arvizo. One major factor in the potential documentary, however, is that Reed knows he'd need to include input from Arvizo and/or his family for the story to be complete.
"The film I would really like to make following this one is the trial of Michael Jackson. I could only do that if the victim and his family participate," Reed explained to The Film Stage. "If Gavin Arvizo and his family would agree to participate, I would very much like to tell the story of that trial. I think it's fascinating and astonishing that Michael was acquitted."
Arvizo has previously avoided public attention and press inquiries. A long-time friend of Arvizo's told The Wrap in March, "He doesn't really want to talk about it right now. He just wants to become a man and have a family and a career and not have this be the standout portion of who he is."
Allegations against Jackson arose in Arvizo's case shortly after he was seen holding hands with Arvizo and talking about sharing a bed with children in a 2003 documentary titled Living with Michael Jackson. The pop singer was subsequently charged with several counts of molestation, attempted molestation, conspiracy, and more, but after 18 months, a jury found him not guilty of all counts. (It wasn't the first time Jackson faced similar charges — he was previously sued in 1993 by the family of another 13-year-old boy who claimed the singer molested him.)
Reed did caution that he's not interested in focusing on Michael Jackson stories for the rest of his career but said the trial and results in particular are worth pursuing in a future documentary. "The way that happened is an amazing story and one that should be told," the director explained.
Jackson's estate has previously condemned Reed's work on Leaving Neverland, which centered on James Safechuck and Wade Robson's allegations that Jackson abused them as children. In a statement from January, the Jackson estate said Leaving Neverland is "the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death. The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact. 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, which means the entire film hinges solely on the word of two perjurers."
Leaving Neverland is now available on HBO.