A judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday against the late Michael Jackson, which accused him of molesting choreographer Wade Robson.
The legal battle started in 2013, when the 35-year-old dancer sued Jackson for molestation that allegedly lasted for seven years. When the court decided that Robson filed the lawsuit too late to get any of Jackson’s estate, he brought a lawsuit against MJJ Productions, Inc., and MJJ Ventures, Inc., two corporate entities owned by Jackson.
Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff determined that the corporations couldn’t be held liable for Jackson’s actions. He said that some of the alleged abuse took place in Neverland Valley Ranch, which was owned by Jackson, not either of the corporate defendants.
“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 explained.
Robson’s lawyer, Vince Finaldi, said the reasoning for the ruling sets a dangerous standard.
“What the judge is saying is that you if own a corporation or a company, you can hire people, use these people to facilitate your sexual abuse, use them to facilitate victims,” Finaldi told The Associated Press. “So long as you’re the sole owner of that corporation, the corporation can’t be held liable.”
Howard Weitzman, Jackson’s estate attorney, however, believes the judge made the right decision.
“In my opinion Mr. Robson’s allegations, made 20 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,” he said.
Finaldi plans to appeal the decision so that Robson’s case can be decided on its facts before a jury.
Jackson has been accused of sexual molestation several times in the past. Just last year, a woman identified as Jane Doe, filed a lawsuit against Jackson’s production companies, alleging the pop king molested her as a child and then paid her millions of dollars to not say anything.
The woman said she met Jackson when she was 12 years old during a sightseeing trip with her family. As they were outside of Jackson’s Los Angeles home, the singer pulled up in his Mercedes and invited them to take a tour of his candy area.
Jackson allegedly got the family’s contact information and started sexually abusing the woman over a three year period. The woman accused Jackson of tongue kissing her all over her body, rubbing his genitals on hers and forcing her to give him oral sex.
According to bank records, Jackson authorized around $900,000 in payments to the woman.
The woman’s lawyers argued that Jackson’s inner circle didn’t implement reasonable safeguards to keep children safe around the singer.