A California court of appeals appeared strongly inclined on Monday to give new life to lawsuits filed by two men accusing Michael Jackson of molesting them repeatedly when they were boys. James Safechuck and Wade Robson’s case against the estate of Michael Jackson can be renewed because of a new law in California that requires victims of sexual abuse to appeal beyond any perceived termination clause.
The claims brought in 2013 reopened now as a result of the new state law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last month, which requires cases to be filed by those who claim they have been sexually abused by age 40, at age 26.
Three judges from the 2nd District Court of Appeal said in a tentative ruling that the trial court that dismissed them in 2017 should reconsider lawsuits by James Safechuck and Wade Robson against two corporate entities owned by Jackson. The Jackson family vigorously denied the allegations brought by Robson and Safechuck.
Robson, 37, and Safechuck, 41, who became recognizable to a wide audience when they aired their claims earlier this year in the Emmy-winning HBO film ‘Leaving Neverland’, appeared together on Monday’s short hearing in downtown Los Angeles. Despite their detailed accounts of how the abuse unfolded and corroboration from family members, Robson and Safechuck have faced some scrutiny since the documentary’s release over a discrepancy in their account.
Outside the courthouse in Los Angeles, their counsel, Vince Finaldi, said the decision was the right one, and they are all happy. Finaldi said, “All they’ve ever wanted is their day in court.”
The tentative decision does not revive the actual Jackson estate as a defendant. A 2015 decision throwing out that part of the lawsuit will stand. Jackson’s property lawyers agreed that the lawsuits needed to be taken back to the district court under the new legislation, but insisted that the decision was irrelevant to the charges that they had previously dismissed as proved false.
Jackson estate attorney Howard L. Weitzman said, “This new law extends the time for genuine victims of abuse to file legal claims. The appellate court’s tentative ruling is not on the merits of Robson and Safechuck’s allegations and the court in no way said that these cases will go to trial. Neither does it reverse the 2015 rulings dismissing Robson and Safechuck’s claims against the estate, which are final and no longer subject to any appeals. We are confident that the claims against Michael Jackson’s corporate entities will, once again, be dismissed as has happened before.”