Corey Feldman wants to set the record straight and make it clear he is not here to defend Michael Jackson.
The former child star appeared on CNN Headline News on Wednesday to clarify comments he made on Twitter in response to HBO’s airing of documentary Leaving Neverland, which alleges the pop star sexually abused two children. On Monday, following the airing of the first part of the documentary, Feldman tweeted that it was “one-sided.”
Now, despite having been friends with Jackson, Feldman says he can no longer defend the singer. He began his CNN appearance by citing this as a “very emotional” time for him as a “survivor of abuse” and asking viewers to put themselves in his shoes.
“You’re a kid whose endured sexual abuse and during those times, I’m looking to somebody like Michael Jackson as a friend, as a big brother figure and he was that person to me,” Feldman noted. “It comes to a point where as an advocate for victims, as an advocate for changing the statutes of limitations to make sure that victims’ voices are heard, it becomes impossible for me to remain virtuous and not at least consider what’s being said and not listen to what the victims are saying — this is very important. We must give them their voice. We must allow them to speak. And therefore, we also must consider all sides of this, even as uncomfortable as that may be.”
Feldman has long been an advocate for victims of sexual abuse and has made it a personal mission to abolish the statute of limitations on such cases. He claimed in his 2013 memoir, Coreyography, that both he and fellow child actor Corey Haim, were sexually abused by those inside Hollywood. He officially filed claims in 2017, but LAPD dropped the case due to the statute of limitations.
The Lost Boys star continued to assert that “absolutely nothing inappropriate” happened between him and Jackson, but he went on to say, “I don’t want to be perceived as I’m here to defend Michael because I can no longer do that. I cannot in good consciousness defend anyone who’s being accused of such horrendous crimes, but at the same time, I’m also not here to judge him because he did not do those things to me and that was not my experience. So, therefore, my place is not to be the judge and not to be the accuser and not to be the defender, my job in this is to focus on what’s most important, which is helping to reform the statutes of limitations in every state because if we can reform the statutes of limitations, we can prevent things from ever getting to this point.”
Feldman went on to say that he did watch the first part of the documentary, and it prompted much soul-searching on his own part. “As I’m watching it, I’m going this doesn’t make sense to me, this isn’t the guy that I knew,” he explained. “But look, I’m a guy that at 14 years old was molested, did have a pedophile completely lie to me about who he was. I trusted him. I believed in him as a friend, and I thought he was a good person and then he molested me. It all proves that I’m not the best judge and that’s why I shouldn’t be the judge in this situation. Especially given the fact that I’m so close to [Michael].”
He also added that he did not watch the second part of the documentary because it was “very emotional” and “very painful.”
Ultimately, his appearance was a plea to ask everyone to take a step back and listen to victims. He apologized to anyone who might have taken his earlier tweets “out of context” and asserted, “It wasn’t meant in any way to question the validity of the victims.”
Following the interview, Feldman remarked on Twitter that it was the “hardest” interview he’s ever done besides the day friend and fellow child star Corey Haim passed away. ” MY <3 IS WITH ALL VICTIMS, & THE CHILDREN OF MJ WHO ALSO R VICTIMS N ALL OF THIS. PLEASE RESPECT THAT!”
Feldman also exclusively provided CNN with a statement furthering his remarks. “I want to be very clear. I stand for any and all victims of sexual abuse or assault,” the statement read. “As a survivor and someone who has been fighting for this to become a focal topic of our society for decades and is fighting diligently to abolish the statutes of limitations across the country, I applaud all victims for letting their voices be heard and I encourage the public debate to continue.”
He went on to call for parents to take this moment to become aware of warning signs of abuse and grooming to help protect their own children. “Thus, I am not in a position to make judgment calls on this topic and contrary to media reports, I do not defend Michael Jackson or any other person who has been accused of these kinds of crimes. We must preserve the innocence of our children at all costs and we must insist that we don’t have to wait until the criminal in question is deceased and can no longer face charges and justice can truly be served. Abusive behavior is simply unacceptable and cannot be tolerated, excused or justified under any circumstances,” the statement concluded. “I apologize if anything I have said has been misconstrued to imply that I feel otherwise.”
Leaving Neverland premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, where its allegations of abuse made waves and sparked a lawsuit from the Jackson estate once HBO announced it would air it this March. Directed by Dan Reed, the film focuses on two men, Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, who claim that, as children, they were sexually abused by the late pop star Michael Jackson.
In February, the Jackson estate filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO, claiming its screening of the documentary constitutes “a breach of a non-disparagement clause” from a previous contract existing between the estate and the premium cable network. Despite this, HBO moved ahead with its plans to air the documentary over the course of two nights on March 3 and 4.
Upon the documentary’s premiere at Sundance, the Jackson family issued an official response, calling the film “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death.” Members of the Jackson family also appeared on CBS This Morning in February to condemn the documentary and its claims.
At the end of his appearance on CNN, Feldman made a heartfelt plea to protect children, saying, “What matters most is that we preserve the innocence of children, the children must come first and we must do God’s work in protecting our children on this planet. It is the most important thing.”
Watch the video above for more from Feldman. Leaving Neverland is now streaming on HBO.