Michael Jackson's firms gain legal points in sexual abuse suit
Michael Jackson's estate has scored legal points over the late singer's accuser. A US court ruled against Wade Robson, an Australian dancer, who had accused Jackson of childhood sexual abuse. The court ruled recently that Robson can't sue the late legendary performer's businesses over abuse allegations because the companies owed Robson "no legal duty and had no ability to control Jackson's behavior."
To recall, Robson had leveled the allegations in the 2019 HBO documentary Leaving Neverland. Before the documentary brought the abuse into the limelight, Robson had sued MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures for "facilitating" abusive conduct in 2013. The recent judgment comes in response to the same. The judge ruled there was "no evidence supporting Plaintiff's contention that Defendants exercised control over Jackson."
"Defendants had no legal ability to control Jackson, because Jackson had complete and total ownership of the corporate defendants. Without control, there's no special relationship or duty that exists between Defendants and Plaintiff," Judge Mark A. Young said. "In addition, there's no evidence of misfeasance by Defendants." The choreographer's attorney is going to appeal the decision. Notably, Robson's suit was earlier dismissed in 2017.
Reacting to the verdict, Robson's attorney Vince Finaldi told The Hollywood Reporter that if the current decision is allowed to stand, it'd set a "dangerous precedent" for "thousands of children working in the entertainment industry" who're "vulnerable to sexual abuse by persons in power." The judge had also dismissed a similar lawsuit filed by James Safechuck, another abuse victim of Jackson, in October.
Tracing back, Robson claimed to have met Jackson when he was five and went on to work with him. He alleged the singer sexually abused him for seven years. The choreographer's suit said as he was Jackson's employee, the celebrity's companies should have a duty to protect him. But the court said the corporations were controlled by Jackson and not the other way around.
"I'm interested in continuing the conversation of who are we worshipping and why... Michael Jackson was incredibly talented, there's no questioning that. But just because someone is talented doesn't mean they're not a predator," Robson had said in an interview before.