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Michael Jackson’s Estate Wins Legal Victory Over ‘Leaving Neverland’ Alleged Abuse Victim

Wade Robson filed a reported $1.5 billion civil suit against Jackson’s estate in 2013, claiming the singer sexually abused him. 

By Kevin Dolak
Michael Jackson Sex Scandals, Explained

Michael Jackson’s estate won another legal victory this week when the court dismissed a lawsuit filed by one of the men featured in the documentary “Leaving Neverland." 

Wade Robson, 38, filed a reported $1.5 billion civil suit against Jackson’s estate in 2013, claiming that the singer had sexually abused him several times between the ages of seven and 14. Jackson met Robson while he was a member of an Australian talent troupe and he appeared in the singer’s "Black or White," "Jam" and "Heal the World" music videos as a boy.

On Monday, Judge Mark A. Young dismissed Robson's civil suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, finding that MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures, the defendants in the case, are not liable for Jackson’s actions, as they have no legal duty or ability to control him.

"There is no evidence supporting plaintiff's contention that defendants exercised control over Jackson," Young wrote. "The evidence further demonstrates that defendants had no legal ability to control Jackson because Jackson had complete and total ownership of the corporate defendants."

Young had dismissed a similar suit filed by James Safechuck in October. Safechuck also appeared in the 2019 Channel 4/HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” in which he claimed that, like Robson, he was repeatedly abused and raped by Jackson at his home, Neverland Ranch, and other locations.

Robson's attorney Vince Finaldi said that he would appeal the decision. 

"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," Finaldi said in a statement, the Associated Press reported

Jonathan Steinsapir, who is representing the Jackson estate, said in a statement that Robson "has spent the last eight years pursuing frivolous claims in different lawsuits. 

“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, and that his latest case is dismissed," he said. 

Robson and Safechuck's ongoing legal battles against the Jackson estate were dismissed by a judge in 2017, who found that the statute of limitations in their cases had expired. But the cases were revived in 2019 after California passed Assembly Bill 218, which allows survivors of childhood sexual assault more time to report abuse.

“Leaving Neverland '' premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It caused both a reassessment of the pop icon’s career and an uproar among Jackson’s fan base after it aired on two parts on HBO later that year. Two rebuttal documentaries — “Michael Jackson: Chase the Truth” and “Neverland Firsthand: Investigating the Michael Jackson Documentary” — soon followed, challenging the claims made on “Finding Neverland” and featuring interviews that were purportedly omitted from that film. 

HBO and the Jackson estate are now headed to arbitration in a lawsuit filed against the network after it aired “Leaving Neverland.” In December, a lower court’s ruling that a non-disparagement clause signed by HBO nearly 30 years ago was still valid. That agreement was made while HBO was collaborating with Jackson on a live concert release of his Dangerous tour.

“Leaving Neverland” director Dan Reed is currently filming a sequel to his documentary that will feature the ongoing legal battles, Deadline reported in October.

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