Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who accuse late pop star Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them as children in the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” won an appeal allowing their claims against two of Jackson’s corporations to stand in light of a recently extended statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse.
In a decision handed down from California appellate court Friday, a previous decision in favor of the corporations was reversed in Robson and Safechuck’s favor, allowing the men to move forward with claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty against MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures.
Robson and Safechuck’s claims against the two companies had originally been deemed untimely due to a requirement in California’s Civil Code of Procedure that victims of childhood sexual abuse must make claims against third party nonperpetrators before their 26th birthday. As of Jan. 1 2020, the code was amended to extend the deadline to the victims’ 40th birthday. Both Robson, 37, and Safechuck, 41, filed claims before that amended deadline.
“We are pleased that the Court has recognized the strong protections California has put into place for sexual abuse victims under the state’s new law extending the statute of limitations. We look forward to sharing the facts of the terrible abuse of James Safechuck and Wade Robson with a jury,” Robson and Safechuck’s lawyer, Vince Finaldi, said in a statement.
“The Court of Appeal’s ruling merely revived lawsuits against Michael Jackson’s companies, which absurdly claim that Michael’s employees are somehow responsible for sexual abuse,” a representative for the Jackson Estate said in a statement to TheWrap. “The Court of Appeal specifically did not address the truth of these false allegations, and we are confident that both lawsuits will be dismissed and that Michael Jackson will be vindicated once again.”
Jackson died in 2009. He consistently denied all sexual abuse accusations while he was alive.