OAN’s Roy Francis
12:03 PM – Saturday, August 19, 2023
A California appeals court revived lawsuits from two men who had alleged that Michael Jackson sexually assaulted them for years.
On Friday, a three-judge panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal revived the lawsuits that were brought by Wade Robson and James Safechuck. The court found that the cases should not have been dismissed and that the men are able to validly claim that the two corporations that were owned by Jackson had a responsibility to protect them.
The two men had alleged that Jackson abused them for years when they were young boys. The two became more widely known when they told their stories in the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” which was released in 2019.
Robson and Safechuck claim that Jackson had abused them in the late 1980s and early 1990s while they were staying at his Neverland Ranch.
Robson said that he met Jackson when he was five years old and went on to appear in three of his music videos. He said that Jackson molested him for seven years after that.
Safechuck’s lawsuit claims that he met Jackson when he was nine years old while filming a Pepsi commercial. He said that Jackson then proceeded to call him often, and give him gifts before starting to sexually abuse him as well.
The two filed their lawsuits in 2013 and 2014 against the two corporations, MJJ Productions, and MJJ Ventures. The singer was the sole owner and shareholder in the companies at the time of his death in 2009.
In 2017, the lawsuits were dismissed for being past the statute of limitations. In 2020, a new law that was passed in California extended the statute of limitations for those who were abused as children, which allowed the two cases to be revived at the time.
In 2021, a judge in Los Angeles found that the two corporations had “no legal ability” to control Jackson and they could not be held responsible for his actions, therefore dismissing the suits once again.
On Firday, the California appeals court disagreed with the previous judge’s decision.
“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,” the court said. “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.”
Attorney for the two men, Vince Finaldi, released a statement stating that they were “pleased” that the court overturned the previous judge’s “incorrect rulings in these cases, which were against California law and would have set a dangerous precedent that endangered children throughout state and country. We eagerly look forward to a trial on the merits.”
Jonathan Steinsapir, the attorney representing the Jackson estate, said that they were “disappointed” in the reversal.
“Two distinguished trial judges repeatedly dismissed these cases on numerous occasions over the last decade because the law required it,” Steinsapir told The Associated Press. “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 July, as the cases were being reviewed, he argued that employees should not be legally required to stop the behavior of their boss.
“It would require low-level employees to confront their supervisor and call them pedophiles,” he argued.
The lawsuits are now in the process of moving to a jury trial in Los Angeles.
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