A California appeals court has revived lawsuits from two men who accused late pop singer Michael Jackson of abusing them as children in the HBO documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’.
On Friday, the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed a ruling from a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissing the suits from Wade Robson and James Safechuck, The Hollywood Reporter reported.
They will be able to proceed with claims that a pair of corporations owned by the singer had a legal duty to protect them from sexual abuse Jackson is alleged to have inflicted on them when they were children.
The justices found that it would be “perverse” to find that the corporations should be excused from a responsibility to oversee the safety of the plaintiffs because they’re solely owned by Jackson.
The court rejected the corporations’ arguments that they didn’t have a duty to protect the men because “they had no ability to control Jackson—their sole owner—or his interactions” with children. “To treat Jackson’s wholly-owned instruments as different from Jackson himself is to be mesmerized by abstractions,” wrote Associate Justice John Shepard Wiley Jr. in a concurring opinion.
Jackson died in 2009. The pair first attempted to bring their case to court in 2013 and 2014, but the lawsuits were dismissed due to the statute of limitations, as per Variety.
However, in 2020 Robson and Safechuck got another chance as California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law that extended the statute for child sexual abuse allegations. While their cases were dismissed again in 2021, now three appellate court judges have ruled in favour of Robson and Safechuck to see the case go in front of a jury in the lower courts.