TODAY

TODAY   |  May 16, 2013

Choreographer: Michael Jackson ‘sexually abused me’

For years, dancer and choreographer Wade Robson defended his former mentor, Michael Jackson, against others’ accusations, but now, he says the late star is a “sexual predator” and is making a claim against Jackson’s estate. He tells Matt Lauer it’s “the right thing to do.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> but this morning, we begin this half hour with a new claim from wade robison, michael jackson 's former protege and long time defender claims that the pop star molested him for years. we're going to talk to wade in a moment exclusively, but first, his story.

>> for years, dancer and famed choreographer wade robson spoke of his one-time friend and mentor michael jackson with only admiration.

>> just had a wonderful relationship. i learned so much from him as an artist and as a kind human being .

>> in fact, in 2005 , when jackson was acquitted of the only molestation charge he ever faced in court, robson was a star defense witness.

>> he was an adult, he was intelligent, he was articulate, and he was adamant that nothing untorrid had happened when he was with michael jackson .

>> but now he's making a belated claim against jackson 's estate because his lawyer said jackson was a sexual predator and he collapsed under the stress and sexual trauma that happened to him several years ago as a child.

>> in my opinion, this is all about greed and money.

>> child abuse experts say wade's belated accusation is not uncommon and sexually abused children often take decades to acknowledge abuse.

>> tragically, this is a very, very common story. study after study after study on childhood sexual abuse has shown that it takes adulthood for many victims to come forward. and that it is very possible that even kids in their 20s do not understand that a crime was committed against them.

>> jackson 's estate says robson 's claims are outrageous and have no credibility.

>> wade robson , good morning. good to see you. you know that the things you're going to say this morning and perhaps in a court of law are going to get a lot of attention, make a lot of headlines. before i ask you specifics, what's your mindset right now?

>> what's my mindset? i feel strong. i feel like this is the right thing to do because this is my truth.

>> despite what some people may say after you say these things?

>> yeah.

>> let me take you back to 2005 , wade, all right, the child molestation trial of michael jackson . you were the first witness called by the defense and the attorney for michael jackson said he called you first because you were so convincing and powerful, asserting the innocence of michael jackson . and here we are these years later and you're going to say just the opposite.

>> right.

>> what happened?

>> first of all, one thing i want to clear up is this is not a case of repressed memory .

>> it's been reported in the press some.

>> i never forgot one moment of what michael did to me. but i was psychologically and emotionally completely unable and unwilling to understand that it was sexual abuse .

>> what are you alleging he actually did?

>> he sexually abused me from 7 years old until 14.

>> i know it's a difficult and personal question. but can you be more specific? because you're accusing someone who is deceased of criminal activity .

>> yeah.

>> i need you to be a little more specific. did he perform sexual acts on you? did he force you to perform sexual acts on him? what was the nature of the abuse?

>> yes, exactly what you said. he performed sexual acts on me and forced me to perform sexual acts on him.

>> how old were you when it started?

>> 7.

>> and how long did it last?

>> until about 14.

>> now, when you testified in 2005 and you took the stand and you raised your right hand and swore under oath that nothing sexual ever happened between you and michael jackson .

>> yeah.

>> why did you lie?

>> you know, i said what i understood. and i said what i was able to say. from 7 years old, from day one of the abuse, michael told me that we loved each other and that this was love. this was an expression of our love and then he'd follow that up with, you know, but if you ever tell anyone what we're doing, both of our lives and our careers will be over. when i was 11 when the first trial was going on, the criminal investigation in '93, he would call me every day and role play and tell me the same sort of things and tell me then if anyone ever thought we did these things, any of these sexual things that both of us would go to jail for the rest of our lives.

>> when you testified in 2005 , did michael jackson or anyone working for him offer you money to say the things you said? did they tell you you must lie on the stand at that time?

>> no, there was no money, there was no you must lie. michael , when he would talk to me before these things were going on and would call me every day as these things were happening, it was complete manipulation and brainwashing. it wasn't any sense of the truth on the phone. he would role play with me and train me for these scenarios.

>> you know, you say it's not repressed memory , you always knew and had in your mind what happened between you and michael jackson . you also say when you finally had a son of your own that it was looking at that son that made you think if anyone ever did to your son what michael jackson did to and with you, you'd kill that person.

>> yeah. when i became a father, 2 1/2 years ago, this beautiful baby boy . and during the first 18 months of his life i collapsed into two nervous breakdowns. at that point, i had no idea what was wrong with me, what was going on. during the second one, this thing happened when i started looking at him and imagining him being a victim of the sexual abuse that i was at the hands of michael . and for the first time in my life, i began to realize that my completely numb and unexplored feelings in relationship to what michael did to me might be a problem and maybe i need to speak to someone about it.

>> in a statement, mr. robson has denied under oath and in numerous interviews over the past 20 years that michael jackson ever did anything inappropriate to him. now he wants us to believe that he committed perjury at least twice and has been lying to anyone and everyone about mr. jackson since the early 1990s . so he can file a claim for money. mr. robson 's transparent lawsuit comes nearly four years after michael passed. his claim is outrageous and sad, jermaine jackson said wade robson is full of and then used an expletive. what's your response?

>> i understand completely how hard it is to understand this. that being said, the idea that i would make all of this up and put myself, my wife, my son, my entire family through this, you know, extremely stressful and painful experience all for the sake of money is completely --

>> but that's what you're going to be accused of. you defended him while he was alive because he was good for your career and now that he's gone, there's an opportunity here to sue his estate, he can't defend himself and get money. why didn't you go to the lawyers and do this quietly? and try to settle something -- make some kind of a deal?

>> right. because i've lived in silence and denial for 22 years. and i can't spend another moment in that. in order to truly heal, i have to speak my truth and i have to speak the whole truth. that's one thing you'll never see from me. i'm never going to go away with this for the sake of money. i'm never going to be silenced for money. that's not going to happen.

>> with all that you've been through, the work that you did with michael jackson and what you now allege was sexual abuse by michael jackson . when i say his name to you this morning, what do you think of?

>> heartbreak. pain. anger. and compassion. you know, there's no excuse for what he did to me and i believe many others, but he was a troubled man. and every effect has its cause. the image that one presents to the world is not the whole explanation of who someone is. you know, michael jackson was, yes, an incredibly talented artist with an incredible gift. he was many things and he was also a pedophile and a child sexual abuser .

>> his fans have been contacting me on twitter this morning in record numbers, wade.

>> yeah.

>> and a lot of them are saying you're a traitor. do you understand their emotions this morning?

>> i understand how confusing it is to understand, you know, how hard it is to understand. i get that. but all it takes is a little bit of education into child sexual abuse and realizing how unfortunately typical my scenario is, the trauma and psychological effects of child sexual abuse lasts for so long, you know. i had no understanding of this until up until just over a year ago. and i'm just at the beginning of my healing process . i'm sure i'll be dealing with this for the rest of my life. but i'm so thankful that this is happening now. because now i can get my life back. and my son, my son is the one that saved my life.

>> wade robson , thanks very much for your time this morning. i appreciate it.