According to the California appeals court, on Friday (8.18,) the two men who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse when they were minors can now resume their lawsuits against companies formerly owned by the singer.
Featured in HBO’s two-part documentary, Leaving Neverland, the alleged victims claimed that Jackson, who died in 2009, groomed and sexually abused them for years while they were boys. In 2013 and 2014, respectively, Wade Robson and James Safechuck filed their cases against MJJ Productions Inc. and MJJ Ventures Inc., claiming that the deceased singer’s companies had a legal obligation to protect them from the alleged abuse.
As they had exceeded California’s statute of limitations In 2017, both cases were dismissed, yet reopened in 2020 after a new state law gave plaintiffs in child sex abuse cases more time to file lawsuits. Both cases were once again dismissed when a judge ruled that the corporations had no legal obligation to protect them from the superstar entertainer.
On Friday, California’s Second District Court of Appeal disagreed, stating that “a corporation that facilitates the sexual abuse of children by one of its employees is not excused from an affirmative duty to protect those children merely because it is solely owned by the perpetrator of the abuse,” with the judges adding that “it would be perverse to find no duty based on the corporate defendant having only one shareholder. And so we reverse the judgments entered for the corporations.”
Following the decision, a lawyer for Mr. Jackson’s estate, Jonathan Steinsapir said they were “disappointed” telling AP:
“Two distinguished trial judges repeatedly dismissed these cases on numerous occasions over the last decade because the law required it.” We remain fully confident that Michael is innocent of these allegations, which are contrary to all credible evidence and independent corroboration, and which were only first made years after Michael’s death by men motivated solely by money.”
In a formal statement, Vince Finaldi, an attorney representing plaintiffs’ said that the court had overturned “incorrect rulings in these cases, which were against California law and would have set a dangerous precedent that endangered children.”
Now a father and a successful choreographer, Robson said following the premiere screening of Leaving Neverland in 2019.“We can’t change what happened to us.” “And we can’t do anything about stopping Michael. He’s dead. That’s gone. What happened, happened. The feeling is, what can we do with it now?”