Michael Jackson's Accusers Win Appeal, Can Now Sue for Sexual Abuse
Two of Michael Jackson's accusers will get the chance to sue the late singer's corporate entities, thanks to a California law that took effect Jan. 1.
According to Deadline, the California 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a previous ruling that prohibited James Safechuck and Wade Robson from suing MJJ Productions Inc. and MJJ Ventures Inc. over the alleged sexual abuse they endured at the hands of Jackson. Robson filed in 2013 at age 30 and Safechuck filed his lawsuit in 2014 at age 36; however, the cases were tossed due to a California law that stated such claims had to be filed prior to the plaintiff's 26th birthday.
The new California law has extended the statute of limitations, allowing "claims of childhood sexual abuse against third-party nonperpetrators to be filed" up until the victim's 40th birthday, according to legal documents.
"We are pleased that the Court of Appeal recognized the strong protections California has for sexual abuse victims, as well as the extended time for them to file claims,” the plaintiffs' attorney Vince W. Finaldi said in a statement to Deadline. "We look forward to proving these claims before a jury. The time is coming for the Jackson estate and lawyers to ‘face the music’ regarding all of these lies and misrepresentations they have been making about Wade and James, and we welcome that day."
Robson and Safechuck, who detailed the alleged abuse in the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, claim MJJ Productions Inc. and MJJ Ventures Inc. were liable for Jackson's alleged actions. Their suits included claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty.
Jackson, who died in 2009, denied the longstanding molestation allegations.
The singer's estate released the following statement to TMZ:
"The Court of Appeal did NOT revive the lawsuits by Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck against the Estate of Michael Jackson. Both of those lawsuits were dismissed in 2016.... [The plaintiffs] absurdly claim that Michael's employees are somehow responsible for sexual abuse that never happened."
In early 2019, the Estate of Michael Jackson filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO over Leaving Neverland. The network filed a motion to dismiss the case on First Amendment grounds and claimed the complaint was part of a publicity stunt.
Per legal documents obtained by The Blast:
The only possible reason why Plaintiffs filed their Petition in court was to attract maximum attention to their public relations campaign against Leaving Neverland and the documentary’s subjects, two men who recount in the film in extraordinary detail how, as boys, they were serially sexually abused by Mr. Jackson.
HBO's request to toss the case was rejected in September.
Via Complex Music.