'Scourge on humanity': Oprah Winfrey discusses sexual abuse during interview with Michael Jackson sexual assault accusers

In an emotional interview with the two men at the centre of the controversial Michael Jackson Leaving Neverland documentary, Oprah Winfrey has said the public needs to open up about the prevalence of sexual abuse in society.

On Thursday, television host Winfrey was joined by the director of the documentary, Dan Reed, and the two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who in the film accuse Jackson of sexually assaulting them when they were children.

In the interview, which will air on Monday (local time), Winfrey said the documentary was about more than just Jackson.

"Here's the reason why I'm here. Twenty-five years of the Oprah show, I taped 217 episodes about sexual abuse," said Winfrey in a promo for the special.

"I tried and tried and tried to get the message across that sexual abuse was not just abuse, that it was sexual seduction. But for me, this moment transcends Michael Jackson, it is much bigger than any one person. It is a moment in time that allows us to see this societal corruption. It is a scourge on humanity."

She said the "scourge" of sexual abuse was happening in families right now, in churches, in schools and in sports teams.

"So if [the documentary] gets you, our audience, to see how it happens, then some good would have come of it."

The Jackson estate is fighting plans to air the documentary.

"The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact," his estate said in a statement.

"The two accusers testified under oath that these events never occurred. They have provided no independent evidence and absolutely no proof in support of their accusations, which means the entire film hinges solely on the word of two perjurers."

Mr Safechuck and Mr Robson told Winfrey that taking part in the documentary was not about making money and said they weren't being compensated for taking part in it.

Mr Reed also said the film wasn't about Jackson, but "about what happened to Wade and James".

The film features interviews with the pair - as well as their family members - about their first encounters with the singer and how they were groomed by him.

Both men had been involved in the 2005 investigation into Jackson, with Robson testifying that the singer never molested him - something he now says he did because he was scared of what would happen if he told the truth.

Jackson repeatedly denied sexual abuse allegations and was acquitted of child molestation charges in 2005.