Michael Jackson Abuse Accusers Want Trial Date Before ‘Michael’ Biopic

The two Michael Jackson molestation accusers featured in the 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland have won the right to combine their negligence lawsuits against Jackson’s companies into a single case and are pressing for a trial by early next year – before the April 2025 debut of the Michael biopic helmed by Training Day director Antoine Fuqua.

A judge granted the consolidation to plaintiffs Wade Robson and James Safechuck during a Wednesday hearing in Beverly Hills, Calif. Standing outside the courtroom after the ruling, the duo’s lawyer said he believes defendants MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures – both now owned by the estate – are seeking a trial well beyond his target of February 2025 because the biopic is expected to be largely flattering. (The estate’s executors are listed as producers.)

“They want the Michael Jackson biopic to come out before the trial. That’s what I think,” lawyer John C. Carpenter tells Rolling Stone. “These corporations that facilitated the abuse in the first place, they’re rewriting the history.”

A lawyer for Jackson’s companies said during the hearing that her clients plan to waive a three-year speedy trial rule because she believes the case won’t be ready for jurors until after December 2026. She said the trial likely would last more than 20 days with dozens of witnesses.

Robson, a choreographer and director, and Safechuck, a writer, actor and director, sued MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures for negligence, breach of duty and intentional infliction of emotional distress in separate lawsuits in 2013 and 2014 respectively. They won the right to proceed together Wednesday after their previously dismissed complaints were revived by an appellate ruling over the summer. The August ruling found that companies can owe their own separate duty to protect victims even if they’re “solely owned” by an alleged perpetrator of abuse.

Wade Robson and James Safechuck

Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, 2

The Los Angeles County Superior Court judge who granted the consolidation set a follow-up hearing for June 5. Lawyers for the Jackson companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“This case goes back 35 years. There’s been a huge amount of related litigation,” defense lawyer Jennifer L. Keller told the court Wednesday as she argued for the case’s transfer to a new department that handles “complex” disputes. She cited what she called the “highly unusual nature of the pleadings claiming entities of Mr. Jackson should be held responsible for not exercising adequate supervision” and said the court would have to “grapple with” some “very difficult legal issues.”

“I don’t think the matter is complex. It’s certainly old, but I think we can get this done expeditiously,” Carpenter responded. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Carpenter said his clients are eager for “the truth to prevail.”

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“Most of the discovery has already been done in the Robson case, so I think we’re nearly ready to go,” he said. “They were both children being abused at the same time, so there’s a heavy overlap. With respect to the injuries, that’s where the evidence is different. But liability is the same. These were two boys who were molested.”

Jackson’s estate has denied the claims in the lawsuit. In a 2019 interview with Rolling Stone, Jackson’s family members claimed Robson and Safechuck are making false claims for financial gain. “It’s about the money,” Marlon Jackson said.

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