LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California appeals court on Friday reinstated the lawsuits of two men alleging that Michael Jackson sexually abused them for years when they were boys.
A three-judge panel of California’s 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that Wade Robson and James Safechuck’s lawsuits should not have been dismissed in a lower court and that the men could reasonably claim that the two named companies in the Jackson’s possessions The defendants in the cases had a responsibility to protect them. A new California law that temporarily expanded the scope of sex abuse cases made this possible Court of Appeal 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. The two men became better known for telling their stories in the HBO documentary ” leave neverland.”
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 to 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.
Robson, now a 40-year-old choreographer, met Jackson when he was five years old. He then appeared in three Jackson music videos.
His lawsuit alleged that Jackson abused him for seven years.
Safechuck, now 45, said inside his suit that he was 9 when he met Jackson while filming a Pepsi commercial. He said Jackson called him many times and showered him with gifts before proceeding to sexually abuse him.
The Associated Press typically does not name people who say they have been victims of sexual abuse. But Robson and Safechuck have come forward and consented to the use of their identities.
The men’s lawsuits had already recovered after being fired in 2017 Young threw her out because of the statute of limitations. Jackson’s personal estate — the fortune he left after his death — was released as a defendant in 2015.