Michael Jackson sexual abuse suits filed by two men could be REVIVED

Michael Jackson sexual abuse lawsuits filed by Wade Robson and James Safechuck could be REVIVED by appeals court

  • Wade Robson, an Australian choreographer and dancer, and James Safechuck, a Californian writer, claim Michael Jackson abused them when they were boys
  • Robson filed a lawsuit in 2013 and Safechuck joined the following year: it has been through the courts ever since, and was dismissed in 2021
  • On Wednesday an appeals court in Los Angeles suggested that the case against Jackson’s companies could be revived: a firm decision was not made 

Two men who claimed they were sexually abused as children by Michael Jackson were given hope on Wednesday that their long-running law suit against the late singer’s companies could be revived.

Wade Robson and James Safechuck both appeared in the hugely controversial 2019 HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland.

Robson, an Australian dancer and choreographer, now 40, met Jackson when he was five years old. He went on to appear in three Jackson music videos.

His lawsuit alleged that Jackson molested him over a seven-year period.

Safechuck, a California-born writer, now 45, said in his suit that he was nine when he met Jackson while filming a Pepsi commercial. 

He said Jackson called him often and lavished him with gifts before moving on to a series of incidents of sexual abuse.

Robson filed suit in 2013, and Safechuck joined the following year.

The cases were dismissed in 2021.

Wade Robson (left) and James Safechuck (right) appeared together in the harrowing 2019 HBO documentary Finding Neverland, where they detailed their allegations of abuse

Robson is pictured with Michael Jackson in an undated photo. The 40-year-old Australian met Jackson when he was five years old. He went on to appear in three Jackson music videos 

Jackson shaking hands with a young James Safechuck. This undated image was shown in the Leaving Neverland HBO documentary 

The judge who dismissed the suits found that that MJJ Productions Inc. and MJJ Ventures Inc., two corporations for which Jackson was the sole owner and lone shareholder, could not be expected to function like the Boy Scouts or a church where a child in their care could expect their protection. 

Yet on Wednesday, an appeals court judge in Los Angeles suggested at a pre-trial hearing that the case could be reopened. 

Jackson estate lawyer, Jonathan Steinsapir, pushed back against the tentative decision by California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal.

The court’s reasoning, Steinsapir argued, ‘would require low-level employees to confront their supervisor and call them pedophiles.’

Holly Boyer, an attorney for Robson and Safechuck, said workers ought to have that responsibility.

‘We do require that employees of the entity take those steps, because what we are talking about is the sexual abuse of children,’ she told the three-judge panel in the videoconference hearing. 

‘What we are talking about here is seven- and 10-year-old children who are entirely ill-equipped to protect themselves from their mentor, Michael Jackson.’

Boyer added that the boys ‘were left alone in this lion’s den by the defendant’s employees. An affirmative duty to protect and to warn is correct.’

Jackson arrives at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for his child molestation trial in May 2005. Jackson died from a drug overdose at the age of 50 in 2009

Robson is seen in 2005, when he testified in Jackson’s defense. He has since said he did so because he was in love with him

Jackson died in 2009 age 50, from a drug overdose. 

Steinsapir said evidence that has been gathered in the cases, which have not reached trial, showed that the parents had no expectation of Jackson’s employees acting as monitors. 

He said a deposition from Robson’s mother showed she did not even know the corporations existed when she first brought her seven-year-old son into the pop star’s presence.

‘They were not looking to Michael Jackson’s companies for protection from Michael Jackson,’ Steinsapir said.

Steinsapir said the assertion in the lawsuit and the court’s tentative decision that the corporations had engaged in negligent hiring was absurd when the person doing the hiring was the alleged offender.

‘Any person that might be prone to criminal tendency has a duty not to hire himself?’ Steinsapir said.

The hearing dealt only with the legal obligations of companies, not the truth of the men’s allegations, but Steinsapir frequently called them both unproven and untrue.

James Safechuck, left, and Wade Robson, right, were targeted in an intense campaign by Jackson’s fans after the 2019 documentary aired

The men’s lawsuits have already bounced back from a 2017 dismissal, when a judge threw them out for being beyond the statute of limitations. 

A new California law that temporarily broadened the scope of sexual abuse cases led the appeals court to restore them. 

Jackson’s personal estate – the assets he left after his death – was thrown out as a defendant in 2015.

The Jackson estate has adamantly and repeatedly denied that he abused either of the boys, and has emphasized that Robson testified at Jackson’s 2005 criminal trial, where Jackson was acquitted, that he had not been abused, and Safechuck said the same to authorities.

The three judges hearing the case Wednesday did not make an immediate ruling.

Justice John Wiley, said it ‘seems to me these corporations were in an excellent position to prevent these injuries.’ 

They could have required a chaperone to be present for the children for example, Wiley said.

Jackson is seen in March 2009 announcing his new tour. He would die three months later

Steinsapir, who emphasized that the alleged molestations took place in Jackson’s home, not in workplaces, replied: ‘Could my law firm tell me who I’m allowed to be with in my own home?’

Boyer, the plaintiffs’ attorney, responded that ‘these houses were staffed by Jackson’s employees. They enacted policies and procedures to facilitate Jackson being alone with these children.’

Robson and Safechuck’s molestation accusations aired in the HBO documentary in January 2019, leading to a huge backlash against the singer.

In response, radio stations in New Zealand and Canada pulled Jackson songs from the airwaves. 

The family of Jackson denied the claims and denounced the film, comparing it to a ‘public lynching’. 

Jackson’s loyal supporters launched campaigns to discredit the two men, with posters on London buses and street demonstrations over the documentary. 

Robson and Safechuck both gave graphic details of what allegedly happened when they were alone with the pop star.

Safechuck, who met Jackson in 1986 on the set of a Pepsi advert, alleges he was abused for a number of years and was showered with gifts while the singer groomed both him and his family. 

James Safechuck and Michael Jackson 1988. Safechuck is pictured holding hands with Jackson, as he accompanied him on tour

Safechuck, who met Jackson in 1986 on the set of a Pepsi advert, alleges he was abused for a number of years and was showered with gifts while the singer groomed both him and his family (Pictured: Safechuck in documentary Leaving Neverland)

Robson was five when he first met Jackson after winning a dance competition in his home town of Brisbane, and alleges he was abused while staying at the singer’s 2,700-acre Neverland ranch in Santa Barbara County, California.  

Robson has faced questions about why he is now alleging abuse after appearing as a defense witness for Jackson in his 2005 court cause for child abuse. 

He said he was motivated to lie in 2005 because he was ‘in love with Michael’ and he wanted to do everything he could to save the man that he saw as his father figure.

Jackson’s estate also successfully filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO, accusing the broadcaster of breaching a contract that was signed by Jackson in 1992 when his Dangerous World Tour aired on the premium cable channel. 

The contract allegedly had a non-disparagement clause that was breached with the film aired, according to court documents. 

Since its broadcast campaigns pleading Jackson’s innocence sprung up around the world.

In 2005, Jackson was tried for intoxicating and molesting a 13-year-old boy who had cancer. He was acquitted.  

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