Anti-Abuse Group Sees Spike in ‘Grooming’ Searches After Michael Jackson Doc ‘Leaving Neverland’

Doc features two men who say Jackson “groomed” them and their families

Last Updated: March 9, 2019 @ 9:45 AM

Darkness to Light, a national group that fights child sexual abuse, says visits to its online resources about the predatory practice of “grooming” have skyrocketed since HBO aired the Michael Jackson documentary, “Leaving Neverland.”

The organization said its website has seen a whopping 548 percent spike in traffic to its pages on “grooming,” a process by which a predator gains a child’s trust in order to commit sexual abuse.

“Grooming doesn’t just happen with the child, it happens with entire families and communities,” the group’s president and CEO, Katelyn Brewer, said, “and in a celebrity’s case, the entire community.”

“Leaving Neverland” profiles two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Jackson groomed them and their families in order to molest them when they were children.

Both men denied that Jackson molested him when he was still alive, and the singer’s estate has denied their accusations. Jackson died in 2009, and was acquitted in a sexual molestation case in 2005 in which Robson testified that Jackson had not had any sexual contact with him.

Robson has since said he lied in the trial at Jackson’s urging.

RAINN, the country’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, has also experienced a “Leaving Neverland” effect. The group said it saw a 15 percent increase in calls to its hotline since the airing of the documentary.

“Portrayals of sexual violence in movies, television shows, the news, and on social media can prompt reactions from survivors and their loved one,” RAINN spokeswoman Jodi Omear told TheWrap.

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