Judge Throws out Michael Jackson child-molestation suit
In a surprise move Tuesday, a Los Angeles judge dismissed a long-running lawsuit claiming Michael Jackson molested choreographer Wade Robson over a period of several years when Robson was a child.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said in a 17-page order that Robson was too late when he filed his original lawsuit against Jackson’s probate estate in 2013 and that his later attempt to reposition the case and go after the dead pop star’s companies was also flawed.
Without ruling on the merits of the sex abuse claims, the judge said Jackson was the sole shareholder of defendants MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures during his lifetime, so no one else at the companies had the power to override his wishes.
“Moreover, Neverland Valley Ranch, where some of the abuse is alleged to have occurred, was owned by Michael Jackson, not either of the corporate defendants,” the judge said.
“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,” the judge said.
According to Beckloff’s ruling, Robson, 35, met Jackson in 1987 though a dance contest in Australia sponsored by Pepsi, Target and CBS Records.
The order said it was then Robson’s mother who re-established contact with Jackson and requested he sponsor the family’s immigration to the U.S.
“Here, defendants’ relationship with Michael Jackson did not result in the exposure of plaintiff to the alleged sexual abuse,” the ruling said. “Defendants’ involvement with Michael Jackson and plaintiff was incidental to the alleged sexual abuse.”
A lawyer for Jackson’s estate praised the judge’s decision Tuesday.
“In my opinion Mr. Robson’s allegations, made twenty plus years after they supposedly occurred and years after Mr. Robson testified twice under oath — including in front of a jury — that Michael Jackson had never done anything wrong to him were always about the money rather than a search for the truth,” lawyer Howard Weitzman said in a statement to the Daily News.
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Robson’s lawyers vowed an appeal.
“We strongly disagree with the court’s ruling, as we firmly believe it is contrary to established California law and sets a dangerous precedent that endangers the state’s vulnerable children,” lawyer Vince Finaldi said.
“For these reasons, we will be vigorously appealing this decision so that Wade’s case can be decided on its factual merits before a jury of his peers. The days of Hollywood legal teams’ usage of threats, bullying, intimidation, and disingenuous arguments to convince judges to dismiss cases are numbered,” he said.
Robson, who has worked for Britney Spears and N’Sync and appeared as a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance,” filed his original molestation lawsuit against Jackson’s probate estate four years after the “Thriller” singer’s death.
The probate court rejected the claims in 2015, saying they were too late.
The choreographer later filed an amended complaint claiming Jackson and key staffers at MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures ran a “sophisticated child sexual abuse procurement and facilitation operation.”
A third amended complaint, filed in September and obtained by The News, added new negligence claims to his suit against the two companies.
Robson claimed he was brought into Jackson’s orbit after winning the dance competition at the tender age of 5. He claimed that two years later, a Jackson assistant contacted his family about meeting with The Gloved One and staying at Neverland during a trip to Los Angeles.
The assistant served as Jackson’s “madam” or “procurer,” his filing said
During that visit, Jackson allegedly sexually abused Robson. The abuse continued for eight years until Robson hit puberty and Jackson lost interest, according to the complaint.
During the pop icon’s 2005 molestation trial in Santa Barbara County, Robson denied he had been sexually abused. He later recanted, saying it took intensive therapy for him to come to terms with the abuse.