Judge Tosses Out ‘Leaving Neverland’ Accuser’s Lawsuit Against Michael Jackson’s Companies

Wade Robson's attorney vows to appeal "to the Supreme Court if necessary."
Entertainer Michael Jackson sings at a concert November 8, 1988 in California. Jackson, who was the lead singer for the Jackson Five by age eight, reached the peak of his solo career with 1982's "Thriller."
Jean-Marc Giboux/Liaison via Getty Images

A judge dismissed a lawsuit on Monday that claimed Michael Jackson’s corporate entities had a legal responsibility to protect Wade Robson as a child from foreseeable molestation he alleged took place in the 1990s.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Robson sued in 2013 claiming Jackson sexually abused him for nearly a decade and his companies MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures facilitated the conduct.” Jackson’s estate now controls both companies. The lawsuit contended they had been negligent by failing to exert control over the late King of Pop’s alleged behavior.

The Associated Press reported Robson’s attorney argued that “the two corporations Jackson had started had a duty to protect him the same way the Boy Scouts or a school would need to protect children from their leaders.”

“There is no evidence supporting Plaintiff’s contention that Defendants exercised control over Jackson,” wrote Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark A. Young in Monday’s ruling. “The evidence further demonstrates that Defendants had no legal ability to control Jackson, because Jackson had complete and total ownership of the corporate defendants. Without control, there is no special relationship or duty that exists between Defendants and Plaintiff.”

Robson had testified on Jackson’s behalf in 1993, when the singer was first accused of molesting children, and again in Jackson’s 2005 criminal trial, reiterating that Jackson had never sexually abused him.

But when Robson first filed his suit eight years ago, he said he had been covering up for Jackson and was molested by him as a young boy. Robson said the abuse began in 1990, when he was just seven years old, and continued for seven years.

His accusations were amplified two years ago in HBO’s Emmy-award-winning “Leaving Neverland” documentary. The film’s credibility relied heavily on graphic personal testimonies from Robson and James Safechuck, who had a similar lawsuit against Jackson tossed out by the same judge last year on the same grounds.

Both Robson, 38, and Safechuck, 43, defended Jackson’s honor when the singer was alive. But after a lethal dose of propofol killed Jackson in 2009, they filed separate suits claiming the international entertainment icon had sexually abused them as children. The courts eventually dismissed the cases because the statute of limitations had expired. Both were reconsidered, however, after California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law extending the time limit for people claiming to be sexual abuse victims to file lawsuits.

The same attorney, Vince Finaldi, represents Robson and Safechuck. He said Monday’s ruling has “fatal flaws” and vowed to challenge the dismissal “to the Court of Appeal, and to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

“If allowed to stand, the decision would set a dangerous precedent that would leave thousands of children working in the entertainment industry vulnerable to sexual abuse by persons in places of power,” said Finaldi in a statement provided to multiple media outlets. “The children of our state deserve protection, and we will not stop fighting until we [ensure] that every child is safe.”

Finaldi also appealed Judge Young’s decision to toss out Safechuck’s lawsuit in October.

According to Michael Jackson’s niece, Brandi Jackson, she and Robson dated for more than seven years, including part of the time period that his alleged molestation took place. She recalled that their romance began as puppy love between two 12-year-olds. Brandi has described Robson as a dishonest opportunist, claiming, “he’s just after money.”

Jonathan Steinsapir, an attorney representing Jackson’s companies, provided a statement to The Hollywood Reporter after Monday’s ruling.

“Wade Robson has spent the last 8 years pursuing frivolous claims in different lawsuits against Michael Jackson’s estate and companies associated with it,” the statement read. “Robson has taken nearly three dozen depositions and inspected and presented hundreds of thousands of documents trying to prove his claims, yet a judge has once again ruled that Robson’s claims have no merit whatsoever, that no trial is necessary.”

Variety reports, “Jackson’s companies were also represented in the case by Howard Weitzman, the attorney who died earlier this month at the age of 81.” He was described by the Los Angeles Times as “the Hollywood power lawyer perhaps best known for defending Michael Jackson and his estate.”

The Jackson estate filed a lawsuit against HBO for broadcasting “Leaving Neverland,” saying the cable network had violated a previous non-disparagement agreement with Jackson. The suit is in private arbitration.

Related: Federal Appeals Court Sides With Michael Jackson’s Estate, HBO Must Arbitrate ‘Leaving Neverland’ Dispute

Related: Judge Dismisses Revived Lawsuit From Michael Jackson’s ‘Leaving Neverland’ Accuser

Related: Michael Jackson’s Niece Dated ‘Leaving Neverland’ Accuser During Period Of Alleged Molestation

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