Doc re­vives Jack­son al­le­ga­tions

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - ENTERTAINMENT - AN­DREW DAL­TON THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

LOS AN­GE­LES — A lawyer rep­re­sent­ing two of Michael Jack­son’s ac­cusers who ap­pear in an up­com­ing doc­u­men­tary says their al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse have not been dis­cred­ited, as the Jack­son es­tate says, and de­serve to be heard.

Vince Fi­naldi, who rep­re­sents Wade Rob­son and James Safechuck in law­suits al­leg­ing Jack­son mo­lested them, said the suits were dis­missed on tech­ni­cal grounds, not on the cred­i­bil­ity of the men’s claims, and they are now un­der ap­peal.

“There were never any rul­ings to the court as to their tes­ti­mony,” Fi­naldi said Thurs­day. “We stand by our clients, and we be­lieve them and we fully ex­pect them to be vin­di­cated.”

The sto­ries of Rob­son and Safechuck, who came for­ward as adults to say Jack­son had sex­u­ally abused them for years when they were boys, will be heard again in the two- part, four- hour doc­u­men­tary Leav­ing Nev­er­land, which will stream in Canada on HBO and Crave in the spring. It pre­mieres Jan. 25 at the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val.

The Jack­son es­tate re­leased a state­ment say­ing the doc­u­men­tary is “just an­other re­hash of dated and dis­cred­ited al­le­ga­tions.”

“Wade Rob­son and James Safechuck have both tes­ti­fied un­der oath that Michael never did any­thing in­ap­pro­pri­ate to­ward them,” the state­ment said, adding that both had filed law­suits that have been dis­missed.

Jack­son in 2005 was ac­quit­ted of crim­i­nal mo­lesta­tion charges, which did not in­volve Rob­son or Safechuck.

Rob­son tes­ti­fied at that trial, say­ing he had slept in Jack­son’s room many times, but Jack­son had never mo­lested him. Safechuck made sim­i­lar state­ments to in­ves­ti­ga­tors as a boy.

Then in 2013 Rob­son filed a law­suit that said stress and trauma had forced him to face the truth that he was sex­u­ally abused by Jack­son, who died in 2009. Safechuck filed a sim­i­lar law­suit the fol­low­ing year.

The As­so­ci­ated Press does not typ­i­cally iden­tify peo­ple who say they are vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault un­less they come for­ward pub­licly, which Rob­son and Safechuck have done in mul­ti­ple ways.

Leav­ing Nev­er­land di­rec­tor and pro­ducer Dan Reed said in a state­ment, “It took great courage for these two men to tell their sto­ries, and I have no ques­tion about their va­lid­ity.

“If there’s any­thing we’ve learned dur­ing this time in our his­tory, it’s that sex­ual abuse is com­pli­cated, and sur­vivors’ voices need to be lis­tened to.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILES

Michael Jack­son waves to his fans from atop his limou­sine af­ter his ar­raign­ment on child mo­lesta­tion charges in Santa Maria, Calif., on Jan. 16, 2004. A lawyer for two men who claim they were sex­u­ally abused by Jack­son when they were chil­dren says they de­serve to be heard.

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