THE ESTATE of Michael Jackson is planning to launch a lawsuit against HBO over child abuse allegations made against the star in the network’s ‘Finding Neverland’ documentary.
The 2019 film featured testimonies from two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claim they were sexually abused by Jackson as children at the star’s Neverland ranch in California. The alleged crimes occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Jackson was known to have young male companions stay at his luxurious property.
The estate of Michael Jackson has been trying to take HBO, who produced the film, to court for defamation as they claim the allegation are untrue. However, a decades-old contract signed between the Jackson estate and HBO has complicated and deleted legal proceedings. In 1992 HBO agreed that they would never disparage the pop star in return for the right to broadcast one of his concerts. Although they have now breached this contract, the document states that any legal consequences must take the form of arbitration – out of court settlement.
Despite this, legal documents lodged by the estate’s lawyers say they would like the case to be as open as possible. On Monday a Federal Court ruled that the legal case against HBO could begin arbitration proceedings. The Jackson estate’s legal team said “it’s time for HBO to answer for its violations of its obligations to Michael Jackson”.
Leaving Neverland sparked controversy following its release. Many praised the documentary for giving a voice to abuse victims, while others criticised it for its lack of balance and factual inconsistencies. The film’s director, Dan Reed, admitted post-release that a date given by an accuser of when a crime allegedly occurred was not accurate.
Michael Jackson, one of the most popular pop artists of all time, died in 2009 aged 50.
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