Michael Jackson’s ‘Leaving Neverland’ Accusers Might Get New Trials

Singer Michael Jackson arrives at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for the second day of the defense's case in his child molestation trial May 6, 2005 in Santa Maria, California.
Carlo Allegri / Getty Images

The controversial HBO documentary Leaving Neverland shined a spotlight on Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them as children. Although Robson and Safechuck previously sued Jackson for sexual abuse, their lawsuits were thrown out in 2017, partly due to the statute of limitations for such crimes.

Through Robson and Safechuck have appealed their rulings and been stuck in an appellate court, the California Court of Appeal issued a tentative ruling that could overturn the dismissals due to a new California law that extends the statutes of limitations for cases of child sexual abuse, TMZ reports.

As of now, oral arguments are scheduled for this week, and Jackson’s estate has objections to the claims that will be addressed by the trial judge.

Per The Daily Mail, Safechuck claims that he was abused for several years and given gifts by the late pop star. Robson claims he was abused by Jackson at the singer’s 2,700-acre Neverland ranch, which is renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch and currently on the market for $31 million.

The new California law, Assembly Bill 218, will take effect on January 1, 2020, Yahoo News reports. Under the law, victims of childhood sexual assault have five years from the discovery of the psychological injury or by the 40th birthday of the victim to sue for the alleged crimes against them.

In the case of Safechuck, who doesn’t meet the law’s standard requirements as he is 41-years-old, he may be eligible for an exception in the case because the company or its officers “knew or had reason to know, or was otherwise on notice” of “misconduct” that creates a risk of childhood sexual abuse by an agent, representative, employee, or volunteer. In addition, the law provides an exception if the person or entity did not take “reasonable steps or to implement reasonable steps or to implement reasonable safeguards” to “avoid acts of childhood sexual assault.”

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Robson previously claimed that Jackson’s abuse was both known by those around Jackson and facilitated by them. He claims that people set up meetings and helped provide Jackson with children to spend time with. Musician Sheryl Crow made similar statements, although she later walked them back.

As for Jackson’s estate, representatives have vehemently denied the accusations against the King of Pop. In addition, they are currently in a legal battle with HBO. The estate is suing the network for $100 million for allegedly breaching a contract signed in 1992, which representatives claim had a non disparagement clause that Leaving Neverland violated.