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What Happened To Wade Robson and James Safechuck's Lawsuits Against The Jackson Estate?

While Wade Robson and James Safechuck initially defended Michael Jackson, the two both later sued his estate.

By Brittany Du Bois
Michael Jackson Sex Scandals, Explained

Wade Robson and James Safechuck are making sweeping claims against Michael Jackson in HBO’s new four-part documentary “Leaving Neverland,” but in reality, they have brought their sexual allegations to court before. Both men, now in their 30s and 40s, have filed lawsuits against the Jackson estate but have faced legal hurdles in what they see as a quest for justice.

Robson and Safechuck were talented young dancers who found themselves in separate intimate relationships with Michael Jackson. Robson claims the sexual abuse began when he was 7 years old, two years after he met Jackson in his native Australia at a dance contest. 

Safechuck alleges that the molestation began at age 10, soon after meeting Jackson at the set of a 1986 Pepsi commercial the two had starred in together. The abuse, according to the alleged victims, continued for several years.

Jackson had a few bouts in court before Robson and Safechuck ever filed their own claims. In 1993, then 13-year-old Jordan Chandler brought suit against the singer alleging sexual abuse. Jackson settled with the family for a reported $22 million. Both Robson and Safechuck defended Jackson at the time. In 2003, criminal charges were brought regarding the sexual abuse of Gavin Arviso. In a 2005 trial, Robson testified on Jackson’s behalf, while Safechuck refused. Jackson was found not guilty of all charges.

Wade Robson, Dan Reed, James Safechuck -AP

Robson then brought his own suit. In 2013, his sexual abuse lawsuit consisted of him alleging that the pop star had molested him during a seven-year period. According to USA Today, in 2015 the court dismissed this case due to California’s statute of limitations for suing an estate of someone who has since passed; by this time it had been four years since the King of Pop’s death. When he changed his case into naming Jackson’s remaining production companies, MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures. In 2017, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff ruled against Robson’s claim that the companies permitted the alleged forced sexual acts but were not found liable.

“Without control over Michael Jackson, the corporate defendants could not impose ‘reasonable safeguards’ or take ‘reasonable steps’ to ‘avoid acts of unlawful sexual conduct in the future’ by Michael Jackson,” Judge Beckloff said according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Jackson was the sole shareholder of the companies, including the Neverland Ranch estate in which a significant portion of the sexual abuse claims had been said to take place in. They were, therefore, not liable for Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse against Robson.

 Watch The Jury Speaks: Michael Jackson on Oxygen, Saturday, March 9 at 9/8c

Safechuck’s case isn’t all that different. He claims that Jackson had begun sexually abusing him when he was 10 years old. He filed his lawsuit in 2014. He was influenced by Robson’s suit the year before and came to terms with his alleged history of abuse. His case was also dismissed, according to the New York Daily News

The world will be able to hear Robson and Safechuck’s full stories this Sunday on HBO in “Leaving Neverland,” where alleged victims dive deeper into their accounts of their disturbing time at the Neverland Ranch. 

Robson and Safechuck’s individual lawsuits are currently in appeal, according to Rolling Stone.

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