Eight years ago, Wade Robson stood in solid defense of Michael Jackson during a 2005 trial where the singer was accused of molesting 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo.
On Thursday morning, 30-year-old Robson sat with Matt Lauer on the "Today" show and called the late King of Pop, "a pedophile and a child sexual abuser." In the interview, the dancer and choreographer claims that Jackson, who passed away in 2009, had abused him from the ages of 7-14. "[Jackson] performed sexual acts on me and forced me to perform sexual acts on him," the talent alleged when Lauer asked for clarification.
So why wait until now? Following a breakdown with a therapist, Robson realized this: "For the first time in my life I began to realize that my completely numb and unexplored feelings in relation to what Michael did to me might be a problem and maybe I need to speak to someone about it." Though it was not an issue of a repressed memory, Robson says he wasn't ready to face the reality of what had happened, adding that he was "psychologically and emotionally completely unable and unwilling to understand that it was sexual abuse."
Following his interview with the "Today" show, Robson addressed victims of sexual abuse in the following statement released to NBC:
"There are millions of survivors of child sexual abuse out there who are suffering in silence and/or denial, as was I. If my coming forward and speaking my truth can help even one victim gain the courage to speak their truth and begin the healing process, that would be more than I could ever ask.
I want to say to those victims that under NO circumstances was it or is it EVER your decision or your fault that you were sexually abused. Please find a way to safely speak your truth because the healing process cannot begin until you do. It is not easy in the slightest but it is absolutely possible to heal and get your life back."
Michael Jackson's family, however, is adamantly refuting Robson's claims. Jackson estate lawyer Howard Weitzman said in a statement released on May 8: "Mr. 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. Now, nearly four years after Michael has passed, this sad and less-than-credible claim has been made."
Watch the segment below.