The judge said Michael Jackson’s companies cannot be held liable for the late pop star’s alleged misconduct.
A California judge has dismissed the lawsuit of one of two men who claim to have been sexually abused by the late “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson.
According to The Associated Press, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark A. Young ruled that James Safechuck, 42, could not sue the two Jackson-owned corporations named as defendants in the suit, MJJ Productions Inc. and MJJ Ventures Inc.
In his Tuesday ruling, Young determined that Safechuck did not demonstrate the sort of relationship with either company which would have obliged them to shield Safechuck—or anyone else—from Jackson’s alleged predation.
Howard Weitzman and Jonathon Steinsapir, both attorneys for Jackson’s estate, said they are pleased with Young’s finding.
“We are pleased that the court dismissed Mr. Safechuck’s case by ruling that he had no grounds to pursue such a lawsuit,” the lawyers said in a statement.
The Associated Press notes that this was the second time Safechuck’s lawsuit was discarded by a California court.
Safechuck first attempted to sue the Jackson estate in 2013, but his complaint was dismissed four years later. However, Safechuck was given a second chance—an appeals court reinstated his suit earlier this year, after California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed into law a proposal allowing adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to sue predators and enablers long after the statute of limitations for their claims would have expired.
Safechuck, adds the BBC, was one of two men who publicly accused Jackson of sexual abuse in the 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland.”
In the documentary and in his lawsuit, Safechuck maintains that he was abused by Jackson “hundreds of times” in the singer’s home and during music tours. He explicitly accused MJJ Productions Inc. and MJJ Ventures Inc. of directly assisting Jackson in procuring children to abuse.
“The thinly-veiled, covert second purpose of these businesses was to operate as a sexual abuse operation, specifically designed to locate, attract, lure and seduce child sexual abuse victims,” Safechuck’s lawsuit stated.
An attorney for Safechuck, Vince Finaldi, told the BBC that Safechuck once appeared in a Pepsi commercial with Jackson, and often accompanied him to concerts.
“Because he was a minor, and he was an employee working for them, they had a duty to protect him,” Finaldi said. “That’s our argument.”
However, Young contested that argument, observing that neither company was directly responsible for Safechuck’s alleged abuse. Furthermore, neither corporation could “control” Jackson, because Jackson himself controlled both companies and everyone they employed.
Safechuck’s attorneys have said they plan to appeal the decision.