(Reuters) - A close friend of Michael Jackson who had testified in defense of the late pop king at his child sex abuse trial said on Thursday that the singer had intimidated and brainwashed him into lying about years of sexual activity with him.
“It was complete manipulation (by Jackson) and brainwashing,” choreographer Wade Robson told NBC’s “Today” show. “He would role play and train me for these (court) scenarios.”
Robson, 30, filed a creditor’s claim under seal against Jackson’s estate earlier this month alleging he had been sexually abused by the singer from age 7 to 14.
He made his claim against the singer’s estate nearly four years after Jackson’s sudden death in June 2009 from a lethal dose of surgical anesthetic propofol.
Robson, an Australian native, was a child dance prodigy and developed a friendship with Jackson, appearing in some of the singer’s music videos in the early 1990s and sleeping over at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch home in Southern California.
“From day one of the abuse, Michael told me that we loved each other and that this was love, that this was an expression of our love,” Robson said. “And he would follow that up with, ‘But if you ever tell anyone what we’re doing, both of our lives and careers will be over.’”
Jackson was tried and acquitted in 2005 on molestation charges involving another minor. Robson testified at that trial in defense of the singer and also defended him during a 1993 criminal investigation into child sex abuse allegations.
The attorney for Jackson’s estate said Robson’s claim “is outrageous and pathetic.”
“This is a young man who has testified at least twice under oath over the past 20 years and said in numerous interviews that Michael Jackson never did anything inappropriate to him or with him,” Jackson attorney Howard Weitzman said.
Robson, who has worked as a choreographer for pop singer Britney Spears, said the birth of his son two years ago triggered abuse-related nervous breakdowns and spurred him to speak out.
“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,” he said.
Jackson’s estate is in the process of settling dozens of claims from creditors and others who had dealings with him during his long career.
An unrelated wrongful death suit, brought by Jackson’s family against concert promoter AEG Live, is in its third week of trial in Los Angeles.
Reporting by Eric Kelsey, Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Philip Barbara