On Friday, August 18, a California appeals court decided that two men who claim they were sexually molested by Michael Jackson as youngsters should proceed with their legal actions against businesses controlled by the late singer.
Wade Robson and James Safechuck filed their cases a decade ago, asserting that Jackson’s companies, MJJ Productions Inc. and MJJ Ventures Inc., had a legal obligation to protect them from the alleged abuse.
The heart of the legal dispute centered around whether Jackson’s companies, given his sole ownership of them, held the power to control his actions and thus had a duty to prevent the abuse.
A lower court sided with the companies, asserting that their corporate structure shielded them from liability.
However, the California Court of Appeal for the Second District overturned this decision, contending that a corporation facilitating the sexual abuse of children by one of its employees cannot be excused from the responsibility to protect those children.
The court’s ruling stated, “We conclude 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.”
Notably, the court emphasized that while these circumstances may be unique, the corporate defendant’s sole ownership by the alleged perpetrator shouldn’t exempt it from its duty.
Michael Jackson’s companies had argued that their situation was exceptional and that they were not liable due to their connection to Jackson’s ownership.
The ruling has revived Robson’s and Safechuck’s lawsuits, but the ultimate outcome remains to be seen. The cases will now return to a lower court for further litigation and a potential trial.
The accusers will need to substantiate their allegations against MJJ Productions Inc. and MJJ Ventures Inc.
Michael Jackson’s Allegations Continue to Spark Complex Conversations
These lawsuits gained significant public attention following the release of the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” in 2019, where Robson and Safechuck detailed their allegations against Jackson.
The case highlights the intricate interplay between legal battles, media representation, and public perception surrounding high-profile cases, particularly those involving figures of great cultural significance.
As the legal proceedings continue, the outcome of these lawsuits could shape discussions about accountability, justice, and the broader implications of allegations against individuals with substantial influence.