Michael Jackson’s legacy clouded by dark documentary

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, March 6, 2019

LOS ANGELES — Can the memory of Michael Jackson survive “Leaving Neverland”?

After all, it has bounced back before. The superstar’s image was tarnished by allegations of sexual abuse that shadowed him throughout much of his adult life and even stood trial on child molestation charges in 2005, for which he was acquitted. His untimely death in 2009 seemed to wash that stain away in an outpouring of public love and a resurgence of sales of his always popular music.

Now, 10 years later, the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” has aired detailed and disturbing stories from two men who say Jackson groomed them for sex and molested them when they were just little boys.

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It has cast a spotlight on Jackson’s unsavory history at a #MeToo moment when old allegations against stars have been taking hold, and taking them down.

So far, there has been no evidence of major damage to Jackson’s music or his estate, which has made an estimated $2 billion since his death. His music has been featured in commercials and is the subject of a Cirque Du Soleil show in Las Vegas. A play about his life by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage is due out on Broadway next year.

And it may not. After all, Jackson is dead now, which means he can’t be charged or put on trial, keeping the story in the headlines for months or years to come.