A new law took effect on Wednesday which allows sexual abuse victims to sue until they're 40 years old, now both Robson and Safechuck will be able to have their cases against the companies tried in front of a jury

By Brianne Tracy and Sarah Michaud
January 03, 2020 08:25 PM
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Wade Robson and James Safechuck — the two men featured in the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland who claimed Michael Jackson sexually molested them both at separate times when they were children — can now sue the late King of Pop’s companies, MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures.

Robson, 37, and Safechuck, 41, had previously sued the two companies back in 2013 and 2014, but a trial judge threw out their cases in 2017 on the grounds that they waited too long to file their claims. At the time they filed, they were 30 and 36, respectively, and California’s statute of limitations required them to file before they turned 26.

But, after a new law took effect on Wednesday which allows sexual abuse victims to sue until they’re 40 years old, now both Robson and Safechuck will be able to have their cases against the companies tried in front of a jury.

“Safechuck and Robson both sued before their 40th birthdays, and the corporations do not dispute the revised statute applies to their nonfinal cases,” a ruling filed in Los Angeles County’s Court of Appeal on Friday reads. “We reverse the judgments in the corporations’ favor and remand for further proceedings.”

Wade Robson, James Safechuck
Wade Robson; James Safechuck
| Credit: Peter Kramer/NBC; HBO

In response, Robson’s lawyer, Vince Finaldi, tells PEOPLE, “We’re pleased the court of appeal has recognized California’s strong protections for sexual abuse victims and extended time to file their claims.”

“We look forward to continuing litigation and proving these claims to a jury,” Finaldi says. “The time is going to come when Michael Jackson’s estate and lawyers are going to have to answer for all these false statements and misrepresentations they’ve made regarding my clients and we look to that being in front of a jury.”

RELATED VIDEO: Inside Neverland: All the Ways Michael Jackson’s Kid-Friendly Ranch Allegedly Hid His Abuse of Boys

Robson and Safechuck’s previous lawsuits against Jackson’s Estate remain dismissed, and an attorney for the Estate, Howard Weitzman, tells PEOPLE that “contrary to reports, the Court of Appeal did NOT revive the lawsuits by Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck against the Estate of Michael Jackson.”

“Both of those lawsuits were dismissed in 2016 and the judgments in favor of the Estate and against Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck remain FINAL,” he says. “Both men admitted in those cases that they committed perjury. The Court of Appeal’s ruling merely revived lawsuits against Michael Jackson’s companies, which absurdly claim that Michael’s employees are somehow responsible for sexual abuse that never happened.”

“The ruling was the result of a change in the law signed by Governor Newsom that extends the time for genuine victims to file claims,” he continues. “The Court of Appeal specifically did not address the truth of these false allegations, and we are confident that both lawsuits will be dismissed and that Michael Jackson will be vindicated once again.”

TMZ was first to report the news.

In order to win a trial against MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures, Robson and Safechuck will have to prove that the people who ran the two companies knew about the alleged abuse.

Robson says that starting in 1990 and continuing over the next seven years until he was 14, Jackson sexually molested him. The abuse allegedly involved “fondling, kissing, giving and receiving oral sex, and one incident in which Jackson attempted to engage in anal sex with him,” according to the Court of Appeal ruling.

Robson also alleges claims against MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligent supervision, negligent retention/hiring, negligent failure to warn, train or educate and breach of fiduciary duty.

Michael Jackson, Wade Robson.photo: HBO
Wade Robson with Michael Jackson
| Credit: HBO

Safechuck, meanwhile, met Jackson in late 1986 or early 1987. In 1988, he and his mother spent six months with Jackson on tour, during which time he claims Jackson abused him hundreds of times.

According to the Court of Appeal ruling, Safechuck claims Jackson “kissed Safechuck’s genitals” in addition to other forms of abuse. Safechuck alleged the same claims against MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures as Robson.

Jackson, who died in June 2009 at age 50, repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and in 2005 was acquitted in a child sex abuse case against him in California.

The Jackson estate sued HBO and slammed their Emmy Award-winning documentary Leaving Neverland, calling it “another rehash of dated and discredited allegations.”