It was a shock,when James Safechuck finally confessed that he was sexually abused by Michael Jackson for years. What was known about him and Jackson before James came forward in early 2014? He was known as the first boy who toured with Michael Jackson, but that was all to his story. The sad truth is that James Safechuck was more than that.
James met Michael Jackson during the filming of a Pepsi Commercial, in which the two of them worked together. This was in 1987, when James was 9 years old:
After finishing the Commercial, Jackson wanted to stay in contact with the 9-year-old boy. It was March 1987, when Jackson wrote a letter to James:
THANK YOU FOR YOUR LETTER. IT WAS NICE HEARING FROM YOU AGAIN!
I’VE BEEN WORKING ON A NEW VIDEO FOR MY ALBUM AND HAVE BEEN REALLY BUSY.
IT WAS FUN WORKING WITH YOU ON THE PEPSI COMMERCIAL! MAYBE WE CAN WORK TOGETHER AGAIN. I’D LIKE TO HAVE YOU COME AND VISIT ME ON THE SET SOMETIME OR WHEN I HAVE SOME FREE TIME YOU CAN COME TO MY HOUSE.
KEEP SENDING ME LETTERS! I LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!
SPEAK WITH YOU SOON, MICHAEL JACKSON
Jackson wanted James to come and visit him, at the time James was 9 and Michael Jackson was 28 years old.
After receiving the letter, James’ whole family was invited by Michael to have dinner with him at his home in Encino, California. During this visit, Jackson gave the 9-year-old 700 dollars. His parents didn’t know about this present and as soon as they found out, they asked Jackson not to give James money. Jackson answered that he could not help himself.
Shortly after this, on Thanksgiving day, James and his family invited Jackson to their home. The meetings between the Safechuck family and Jackson became normal and regular. When James visited Michael for the second time, Jackson gave 100 dollars bills to homeless people. He said to one homeless man: “You do know how much this is,” and then handed him a $100 bill. During the third visit, Jackson showed James and his parents his own recording studio. During his many visits to the Hayvenhurst house, James would “hang out” with MJ in his bedroom and spend time with him in his dance room. Jackson gave him a thriller jacket that he needed to give back a few years later.
The bond between Jackson and a 9-year-old boy grew so strong that MJ became a part of the Safechuck family and he would always visit them when he felt alone or lonely, no sexual abuse happend in 1987.
In 1988, Jackson firstly invited the Safechuck family to join him on a trip, it was a trip to Hawaii. James was now 10 years old and started to dress like Michael Jackson.
On this trip, James stayed with his mother in her hotel room and nothing sexual happend between Jackson and James, even though Michael tried to convince Safechuck’s mother to let him stay with her 10-year-old son. They stayed only one weekend in Hawaii and during the return flight to Los Angeles, James interviewed Michael:
Plaintiff: “What do you think about lying?”
DECEDENT: “People make up stories about [DECEDENT-referring to himself in the third person].”
Plaintiff: “Do you like performing?”
DECEDENT:. “Favorite things are writing songs, performing, and being with Jimmy [Plaintiff].”
Plaintiff: . “Any new plans?”
DECEDENT: “Smooth Criminal, short film, new Pepsi commercial, best Pepsi commercial was the one with Jimmy [Plaintiff] because he had ‘heart,’ best thing about Hawaii was spending time with Jimmy [Plaintiff], love [Plaintiffs] family and want to spend time with them.”
During this conversation, Michael called James Rubba, he did that from early on. It was a nickname for many of the young male friends, Jackson had over the years. After this trip, Jackson started to sleep over at James’ home. He slept in James’ bedroom on a regular basis, however nothing sexual happend between them.
On March 11,1988, James and his mother accompanied Michael as his guests to attend a performance of The Phantom of the Opera in New York. Michael was seen holding hands with 10-year-old James and asked James’ mother if he could spend the night with James. The mother said no, but as soon as they woke up in the morning, Michael and James would spent time together.
Michael and James were close friends for a year now, but no molestation took place yet.
Michael invited the family in or about 1988 to Florida and James stayed with Michael in one house, and James’ parents stayed in one of the other houses. This was the first time that James stayed with Michael on a trip. Michael also took James and his parents for a side visit to Disney World.
Nothing sexual happend there, even though they shared a house. In early 1988, Michael asked James to grow his hair long and to dress like him. James did that and became the second mini-Michael (the first one was Alfonso Ribeiro).
Michael was a close family member for the Safechuck family but he never introduced them to his own family. James joined the Bad Tour in June 1988 and travelled with Jackson until December, when the Bad Tour was finally finished in Japan. The first incident of sexual abuse occurred during the Paris portion of the Bad Tour in June 25-29, 1988.
Important: Michael was close to James since early 1987. James was groomed for about one year and a half. There was no sexual contact between James and Michael between early 1987 and June 1988. During 1987 and 1988, he still had another boy visiting his home in Encino and Neverland. It was Jonathan Spence who was 14-15 years old then (a boy who befriended Jackson at age 12).
After the first sexual molestation took place, James began sleeping in Michael’s bed on a regular basis during the rest of the Bad Tour. Jackson explained the sexual acts as a “way of showing love”. James, who was only 10 years old, believed him. On another occasion during the Bad Tour in 1988, Michael referred to this activity as “selling me some,” because Jackson would give James jewelry after he did this, as a “reward.” Jackson had code words for sexual activities, including the phrase: “bright light, brick city” which referred to a “hard-on”.
The worldwide Bad Tour ended in December, 1988 in Japan:
In February 1989, Michael invited James to New York, where James shared Jackson’s hotel room and ongoing sexual abuse would occur. During the whole time James was abused, Michael told James that every sexual act was his idea and explained to him that he is not allowed to tell anyone what they are doing.
Jackson’s abuse made James wonder about his sexuality. James had a crush on Sheryl Crow, a woman who worked for Jackson. Jackson found that out and showed 10-year-old James photos of Sherly with no makeup on. Michael consistently talked about women in a negative manner, and would point out to James what he considered to be their physical flaws. Jackson told James that women were smart, conniving and not to be trusted.
When Jackson bought Neverland, he told James that it is also his home. Whenever James visited the ranch, he slept in Michael’s bedroom. Michael had the telephones at Neverland tapped so that he could listen to incoming and outgoing calls. On one occasion, Michael had James secretly listen in on a telephone call between James’ mother and aunt where the mother had said something negative about his father. After James listened to the call, Michael stated: “look how mean women are.” Michael was even jealous of James’ girlfriend that he had in 4th grade. In or about 1988, Michael and James even “married” with a wedding ring and a signed document. During every phone conversation they had, Jackson wanted to hear that James loves him.
When James was about 12 years old, Michael started a seperation phase with James, telling him that he would have other friends. For many people this is a “proof” that James is lying, but they are wrong. The question why James became less interesting to Michael at 12 while other boys were firstly befriended at 13 years old is a fair question,but it is also easy to answer. J.Randy Taraborelli wrote in his book that Jackson’s manager Frank Dileo had informed Jackson that people view his friendship to James as perverted.
It is very possible that Dileo’s advice was the reason for the very early seperation phase. It could have other reasons as well, child molesters mostly abuse every child differently. In 1990, when James was 12, Michael started to become close to Macaulay Culkin who was two years younger than James.
Before Jackson could let James go, he had to find a replacement. This took time. When James was 12-13 years old, he visited the ‘Hideout’, where Jackson gave him wine and let him watch porn films, which were heterosexual. He also showed James child porn, even though Jackson said that those movies are “not really porn”.
The replacement for James was found in 1991, when James was 13. It was Brett Barnes, who was 9 years old. Michael was now mainly focused on Brett, he shared his bed and joined the Dangerous Tour in 1992. James was jealous of Brett since he was allowed to stay in Jackson’s bed more often. The abuse of James had not completely stopped yet and Michael kept James around for a short time. Jackson invited him to the set of Jam at the age of 14 (James had to leave earlier, but Brett was allowed to stay) and made it possible for James to visit the White House. In James’ civil complaint, it says that there were some more trips in 1992 and James still visited Neverland as a 14-year-old, but less frequently. Sometime in 1992, James was cut-off by Jackson. Jackson seperated himself step by step until they only had phone conversations (even the phone conversations became less and less) and he still paid several things for James. There was no invitation or trip anymore after he was 14. James was not able to name an exact date or month when the molestation ended, but he believes that he was molested by Jackson more than 100 times over a 4-year-period (1988-through 1992).
The “only phone conversation time” stopped, when Jackson was firstly accused of child molestation in late 1993. James told the police that he was never touched by Jackson. This is not unusual for a teenage boy. The 1993 accuser Jordan Chandler mentioned James Safechuck as one of Michael’s victims. The 13-year-old told psychiatrist Dr.Richard Gardner that Jackson had confided that many boys had masturbated in front of him, including “a boy who went on the Bad tour with him”, Jordie said. However, James protected Jackson. As a “thank you for standing by my side”, Jackson invited James one more time in 1994, when he was 16 years old to Budapest:
James doesn’t recall any molestation at that trip, since Jackson’s wife Lisa Marie Presley was also around. In 1994-1995, Jackson allowed James to work with him. He was working on Jackson’s Earth Song video. Somewhen in late 1995, Jackson stopped the contact again like in 1992 and it again ended with phone conversations. This again proves that the further contact to James was just a way to say “thank you”. Jackson did not care about James, otherwise he wouldn’t have cut him off again.
The first reporter who reported about this case was Diane Dimond, who firstly stated that James was abused from 10 years old until he was 14 or 15 years old.
Brett Barnes, the replacement for James, stated similar things at Jackson’s 2005 molestation trial. He also said that he always slept in Jackson’s bed when he visited Neverland. In his case it was until the age of 19.
Brett & Jackson:
In 2005, Michael contacted James and asked him to testify on his behalf in the criminal trial against him for sexual abuse. James was approximately 27 years old at the time. Michael started out the telephone call by saying that he wanted to help James with his music and directing. He then asked James to testify at the trial on his behalf. When James said no to the request, Michael got angry and threatened him. James told Michael never to call him again, and that he wanted a normal life. Michael got very angry and continued to threaten James, telling him that he had the best lawyers in the world and that they would get James for perjury from the 1993 Chandler investigation.
So yes, James was more than just the first boy who toured with Jackson. He was Michael Jackson’s victim for about 4 years (1988-through 1992). The nature of the sexual abuse was mainly masturbation and oral sex.
James Safechuck’s civil complaint
Read here about Brett Barnes (age 9-19):
Read here about Jonathan Spence (age 12-16):