Lawsuits from two men who accused Michael Jackson of molesting them as children in the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland have been brought back from discharge.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal on Friday reversed a decision by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissing the lawsuits of Wade Robson and James Safechuck. They can go on to claim that a few companies owned by the singer had a legal duty to protect them from sexual abuse Jackson allegedly inflicted on them when they were children.
The judges felt it would be “perverse” to find that the companies should be absolved of the responsibility of overseeing the plaintiffs’ safety because they are solely owned by Jackson.
The ruling marks the second time the lawsuits, filed in 2013, have been reinstated after being dismissed. In 2020, Los Angeles Supreme Court Judge Mark Young found that Robson and Safechuck cannot sue the Jackson-controlled companies for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty because they were unable to stop his alleged sexual abuse of the children. Their lawsuits were initially dismissed in 2017 because the statute of limitations had expired, but were brought back under legislation that gave victims of sexual abuse three years to prosecute.
The court rejected the companies’ arguments that they had no duty to protect the men because “they had no control over Jackson — their sole owner — or his interactions” with children. “To treat Jackson’s wholly owned instruments as distinct from Jackson himself is to be mesmerized by abstractions,” wrote Associate Justice John Shepard Wiley Jr. in agreement.
A Los Angeles judge will now review the charges against Jackson.
The estate for Jackson has denied claims that he abused any of the men, who accused the singer of harassing them after meeting him on video and commercial tapes.