Michael Jackson: Court dismisses lawsuit from accuser James Safechuck

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Michael Jackson and James Safechuck in 1988Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Michael Jackson and 10-year-old James Safechuck in 1988

A US judge has dismissed a lawsuit from one of Michael Jackson's accusers, who claimed Jackson's companies allowed the star to abuse him and other children.

James Safechuck has said the singer started abusing him when he was 10.

In 2014, he sued MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures, and has alleged they "were created to, and did, facilitate Jackson's sexual abuse of children".

But the judge dismissed the case, saying the companies didn't have a duty of care for Mr Safechuck.

Jonathan Steinsapir and Howard Weitzman, representing MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures, told the BBC: "We are pleased that the court agreed that Mr Safechuck had no grounds to pursue his lawsuit."

Mr Safechuck was one of two men who accused the late pop star of abuse in last year's Leaving Neverland documentary.

Media caption,

James Safechuck (left) and Wade Robson told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire about the abuse in 2019

In his lawsuit, he said Jackson abused him hundreds of times at his homes and on tour in the late 1980s and early 90s.

MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures were set up by Jackson to run his career. But in the lawsuit it was claimed: "The thinly-veiled, covert second purpose of these businesses was to operate as a child sexual abuse operation, specifically designed to locate, attract, lure and seduce child sexual abuse victims."

Mr Safechuck also featured with Jackson in a Pepsi commercial and often appeared on stage with the singer.

Mr Safechuck's lawyer Vince Finaldi told BBC News: "He was an employee that was working on behalf of them as a dancer and entertainer on the stage with Michael.

"Because he was a minor, and he was an employee working for them, they had a duty to protect him. That's our argument."

Leaving Neverland sequel

California judge Mark Young disagreed, saying the companies weren't directly responsible for causing emotional distress, and were not able to control Jackson, because he controlled the companies and everyone they employed. Corporations cannot be direct perpetrators, he said.

Mr Safechuck, who is seeking unspecified damages, will appeal.

Jackson vehemently denied the abuse. Mr Safechuck (a child at the time) reportedly gave a witness statement defending Jackson when allegations against the singer first emerged in 1993.

Mr Finaldi is also representing Wade Robson, who appeared in Leaving Neverland too, in a separate lawsuit, which is expected to reach trial next summer.

Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed is reportedly making a sequel about the pair's legal battles. Deadline reported on Wednesday that Jackson's companies had taken legal action against the film-maker.