A California appeals court has reinstated the lawsuits of two men who allege Michael Jackson sexually abused them for years when they were boys.
Both men detailed a series of harrowing allegations in the documentary, directed by Dan Reed leave neverland in 2019.
On Friday (August 18), a three-judge panel of the California 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the lawsuits brought by Wade Robson and James Safechuck should not have been dismissed in a lower court and that the men can reasonably claim that the two Jackson-owned companies named as defendants in the cases had a responsibility to protect them.
A new California law that temporarily expanded the scope of sex abuse cases allowed the appeals court to restore them.
It’s the second time the lawsuits — filed by Robson in 2013 and Safechuck the following year — have been brought back after being dismissed.
A judge, who dismissed the lawsuits in 2021, found that the companies MJJ Productions Inc. and MJJ Ventures Inc. could not be expected to operate like Boy Scouts or a church where a child they minister to is their protection could expect.
Jackson, who died in 2009, was the sole owner and sole shareholder of the companies.
The higher court judges disagreed, writing that “a business which facilitates the sexual abuse of children by one of its employees is not relieved of a positive duty to protect those children simply because it is solely owned by the perpetrator of the crime.” abuse.”
They added: “It would be perverse not to create an obligation based on the fact that the defendant company has only one shareholder.” And so we are reversing the judgments made for the corporations.”
Jonathan Steinsapir, attorney for the Jackson estate, said they were “disappointed”. “Two respected judges have dismissed these cases multiple times over the past decade because the law required it,” Steinsapir said in an email The Associated Press.
“We remain fully confident that Michael is innocent of these allegations, which contradict all credible evidence and independent confirmation and were first made years after Michael’s death by men motivated solely for money reasons.”
Vince Finaldi, an attorney for Robson and Safechuck, said in an email that they were “pleased but not surprised” that the court “overturned the previous judge’s erroneous rulings in these cases, which violated California law and.” would have set a dangerous precedent.” at-risk children statewide and across the country. We are looking forward to examining the matter.”
In July, Steinsapir argued for the defense that it made no sense for employees to be legally obliged to stop their boss’s behavior. “It would require low-level employees to confront their manager and call them pedophiles,” Steinsapir said.
Holly Boyer, another attorney for Robson and Safechuck, countered that the boys were “left alone in the lion’s den by the defendant’s employees.” A positive duty to protect and warn is correct.”
Steinsapir said the evidence gathered in the cases that have yet to go to trial shows the parents did not expect Jackson’s employees to act as observers.
“They did not hope that Michael Jackson’s companies would receive protection from Michael Jackson,” argued the lawyer.
But in a consistent statement issued with Friday’s decision, one of the panelists, Assistant Judge John Shepard Wiley Jr., wrote that “those Jackson instruments that are 100% owned by Jackson should be treated differently than Jackson.” itself means being fascinated by abstractions.” This is not an alter ego case. It’s the same ego case.”
The judges did not decide on the veracity of the allegations themselves. That will be the subject of an upcoming jury trial in Los Angeles. “We trust that ultimately the truth will prevail again with Michael’s justification,” Steinsapir said on Friday.
The lawsuit alleges that Jackson sexually abused the child hundreds of times between 1988 and 1992, up until Safechuck was nearing puberty.
Safechuck alleges the sexual abuse began in 1988 during a trip to Paris after meeting Jackson at the age of nine in the late 1980s. He claims the singer demonstrated masturbation before teaching the minor to perform the act himself.
In Robson’s case, the lawsuit alleges that the production company introduced the then five-year-old to the “Billie Jean” singer in 1987 after he won a dance competition.
Jackson’s alleged abuse of Robson began in 1990 when seven-year-old Robson spent a weekend at Neverland Ranch with his family.
The lawsuit alleges that employees of MJJ Productions Inc. saw Jackson placing his hand on Robson’s crotch and allegedly discovered the child and the singer’s underwear on the floor by the bed.
It is also alleged that security personnel at MJJ Productions Inc. joked that the late entertainer had no girlfriends “because he likes little boys. He likes little white asses.”
Rape Crisis provides support for victims of rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland or visit their website at www.rapecrisis.org.uk.
If you are in the US, you can call Rainn at 800-656-HOPE (4673).
Additional coverage from The Associated Press