A judge has tossed a lawsuit brought against the late Michael Jackson's companies by a man who says he was abused by the star. James Safechuck, who appeared in the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, says he was abused hundreds of times while working for Jackson as a child dancer in the 1980s and '90s, per the BBC. He previously won an appeal in California, which allowed him to sue MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures in a civil trial. He claims the companies had a "covert second purpose … to locate, attract, lure, and seduce child sexual abuse victims," per USA Today. But Los Angeles Judge Mark Young ruled Tuesday that Safechuck had not shown the companies had a fiduciary duty to him. Nor was it established that they could control or discipline Jackson, Young said.
Lawyers for Jackson's estate praised the decision. But Safechuck's lawyer said an appeal would be filed. "The notion that these companies owed no duty to protect Mr. Safechuck—who was a young boy working for them at the time—from a known pedophile, attempts to turn decades of child sexual abuse rulings and statutes on their head," said Vince Finaldi. Safechuck's lawsuit had proceeded after a change to the statute of limitations covering civil suits over child sexual abuse in California. Wade Robson, another Finding Neverland accuser, is suing the companies in a separate case set for trial in June 2021. Director Dan Reed has continued to follow the cases for a sequel to the Emmy-winning documentary. However, Deadline reports Jackson's companies last month served him with subpoenas that seek documents and other items tied to the documentary and planned follow-up. (Read more Michael Jackson stories.)