Two men who claim they were abused by Michael Jackson have lawsuits revived by court
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A Californian appeals court has decided to revive lawsuits from two men - Wade Robson and James Safechuck - who allege Michael Jackson sexually abused them when they were boys.
The decision was made by a three-judge panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal who said the two men can claim that two Jackson-owned corporations named as defendants in the previous cases had a responsibility to protect them.
It is the second time the lawsuits, brought by Robson in 2013 and Safechuck in 2014, have been brought back after dismissal.
The two men are widely known for telling their stories in the 2019 HBO documentary Leaving Neverland.
Robson, now a 40-year-old choreographer, says he met Jackson when he was five years old.
He went on to appear in three of his music videos.
His lawsuit alleged that Jackson molested him over a seven-year period.
Safechuck, now 45, was nine when he met Jackson while filming a Pepsi advert.
He alleged Jackson called him often and lavished him with gifts before moving on to sexually abusing him.
A judge who dismissed the suits in 2021 found that the corporations, MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures, could not be expected to function like the Boy Scouts or a church where a child in their care could expect their protection.
Jackson, who died in 2009, was the sole owner and only shareholder in the companies.
However, the higher court judges disagreed, writing that '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'.
In July, Jackson estate attorney Jonathan Steinsapir said that the men’s allegations were unproven and untrue, and it does not make sense that employees would be legally required to stop the behaviour of their boss.
“It would require low-level employees to confront their supervisor and call them paedophiles,” Mr Steinsapir said.
Holly Boyer, a lawyer for Mr Robson and Mr Safechuck, said: "[The boys] were left alone in this lion’s den by the defendant’s employees.
"An affirmative duty to protect and to warn is correct."
The Jackson estate has repeatedly denied that either of the boys were abused, and has emphasised that Robson gave evidence at Jackson’s 2005 criminal trial, where the pop star was acquitted, that he had not been abused, and Safechuck said the same thing to authorities.
The men’s cases were combined for oral argument, and they may also be tried together.