Michael Jackson’s famed Neverland Ranch could become a sex-assault rehabilitation facility for children, if rumors are correct that a New York businessman is bidding to purchase the property with plans to convert the deceased singer’s home.
According to the New York Post’s Page Six, several buyers have emerged to purchase the 2,700-acre property—which Jackson purchased in 1988 and later converted to include an “amusement park, a two-story arcade, candy stores, a movie theater and a zoo”—with two bidders wanting to turn the ranch into a museum celebrating the singer’s life and legacy.
Another, a businessman, has offered some $40 million for the property, with plans to turn it into a center to help abused children.
“His goal is for the place to be used to help children in a serene setting recover from the trauma of sex abuse,” a source told Page Six. “The plan is to have children come there for treatment, and they will also hire trained therapists who would help the victims through the use of equine-assisted therapy, which works to improve the kids' self-esteem, and it helps them to become more outgoing.”
The irony of this possible transformation of Neverland Ranch won't be lost on those who followed Jackson’s life offstage. Before Jackson’s death in 2009 from cardiac arrest at age 50, the singer had been plagued by rumors of child molestation.
In 2005 the pop singer was accused of molesting 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo. “He was later indicted on four counts of molesting a minor, four counts of intoxicating a minor in order to molest him, one count of attempted child molestation and one count of conspiring to hold the boy and his family captive at Neverland,” according to the Daily Mail.
A jury would find Jackson not guilty on all charges, but the weight of the accusations took a toll on Jackson as the singer stopped staying at the Neverland Ranch, at one point claiming that some 70 officers who searched the property had violated his home, according to the Daily Mail.