Wade Robson, who detailed sexual abuse accusations against Michael Jackson in the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” said on Monday that it is “unfortunate” that MTV will keep the pop icon’s name on its Video Vanguard Award at this year’s VMAs.
The network announced Monday that Missy Elliott will be the latest recipient of the award, which was named for Jackson in 1991, before the first molestation accusations against him surfaced in 1993. Robson and another man, James Safechuck, reignited the discussion around Jackson when they spoke at length for the documentary.
“I don’t personally need MTV to do one thing or the other, but as child abuse survivors all over the world watch to see whether society will support them or not if they have the courage to come forward, in that regard, it’s an unfortunate choice,” Robson told TheWrap Monday.
MTV did not immediately respond to requests for comment about its decision to keep Jackson’s name on the award, which it described in a news release Monday as the “VMAs’ highest honor.”
The network began handing out the Video Vanguard Award in 1984, when the VMAs were still known as the Video Music Awards. Past recipients have included Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Guns N’ Roses, Britney Spears, Kanye West, Rihanna, and P!nk.
Jackson was acquitted of child molestation in a 2005 trial involving another minor. The singer also settled another child molestation accusation in 1993. Jackson, who died in 2009, always denied any inappropriate behavior, and his family has denounced the HBO documentary.
But in “Leaving Neverland,” Robson and Safechuck described in detail how Jackson repeatedly molested them and influenced and tricked their families into trusting him. Robson testified during Jackson’s 2005 trial that Jackson never abused him, but explained in the documentary that he did so in part because he believed Jackson’s life was in danger.
Robson is a well-known choreographer who traveled the world with Jackson as a child. He has worked with Spears and NSYNC, among others.
Safechuck did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.