Mark Lester, an actor who was close to Michael Jackson for decades before the singer’s death in 2009, appeared on the U.K.’s “This Morning” show to defend Jackson from renewed allegations of sexual misconduct, arguing that his only real crime was his naivete.
“My family visited Neverland (Ranch) many times, spending Christmas with him, spending lots of time with him when he came to London.,” Lester said. “These awful allegations are just not the man I knew.
“With Michael, there was a general naivete and innocence about him that is hard to explain,” he said. “He just didn’t understand that, in today’s society, it is not really acceptable to behave in the manner that he did (spending time with children).”
In a more awkward stretch of the interview, host Eamonn Holmes asked Lester about his previous claims that he donated sperm to Jackson and that Jackson didn’t understand the process.
“You say that you were a sperm donor for Michael Jackson and you said that (Jackson asked you), ‘How do you do it?” What do you mean ‘how do you do it?'”
“I think again, extending his naivety, I think he knew how to do it,” Lester said. “I think he was going on the fact how I was so fertile and what was the secret, and I couldn’t answer that.”
Lester also sidestepped the question as to whether he is Paris Jackson’s biological father, telling Holmes, “Regardless of who the so-called biological father is or whatever, Michael raised those children as his own.”
Jackson was the father of three children, having Michael Jackson Jr. and Paris Jackson with Debbie Rowe and Prince Michael Jackson II via a surrogate.
Jackson’s alleged misconduct has resurfaced in the news, stemming from a new documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday. The documentary tells the story of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who were befriended by Jackson as children and allege that Jackson sexually abused them.
Jackson’s estate denounced the documentary as “just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations” and “yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.”
‘Leaving Neverland’: What we know about allegations of molestation against Michael Jackson