Wade Robson and James Safechuck are hoping to get another shot at a financial windfall from the estate of Michael Jackson and he's citing a newly signed California law meant to support victims of childhood sexual assault.
According to legal documents, obtained by The Blast, letters were filed with the appellate court where they continue to fight the MJ estate, citing Assembly Bill 218 that Gavin Newsom signed into law on October 13, 2019.
In the letter, James and Wade are asking the court for an "opportunity to submit supplemental briefing as to the new law and its effect on this action." Translation: The new law may drastically change the case.
The law takes effect on January 1, 2020 and is designed to extend the time for victims for childhood sexual assault. According to the law, the new period to sue direct perpetrators of such crimes is either the victim's 40th birthday or within five years after the victim discovers the psychological injury from the sexual assault.
Wade Robson is 37 years old. James Safechuck is 41.
As far as the Michael Jackson estate, or any of late King of Pop's companies Wade filed the lawsuit against, claims against third-party non-perpetrators, a victim may also only sue up to his or her 40th birthday.
There is an exception, and it is unless the company or its officers, "knew or had reason to know, or was otherwise on notice, of any misconduct that creates a risk of childhood sexual assault by an employee, volunteer, representative, or agent, or the person or entity failed to take reasonable steps or to implement reasonable steps or to implement reasonable safeguards to avoid acts of childhood sexual assault."
Wade Robson has claimed through his lawsuit that his assault at the hands of MJ, was not only known by people around Jackson but facilitated by them. Specifically, Robson says people working for the various companies set up meetings and helped deliver kids to spend time with him.
A judge dismissed Wade Robson's lawsuit against Michael Jackson's estate in 2015, saying that Robson had filed his lawsuit too late to get any of Jackson’s estate.
The two parties left in the case, at that point, corporate entities owned by Jackson MJJ Productions, Inc., and MJJ Ventures, Inc. were dismissed in 2017.
They have appealed the decision and the case sites with the appellate court. During the process, Robson and Safechuck were featured in the documentary "Leaving Neverland" where he described in detail his allegations against Jackson.The MJ estate responded to the request saying, regardless of the law change this appeal should end before Jan 1, 2020. The case should be concluded based on the law that is in place today. They ask that the case not be delayed.
The appellate court issued an order asking both sides to submit arguments addressing the following questions, (1) Do the revisions in AB 218 apply to the claims pending in these appeals? (2) If AB 218 applies, are plaintiffs' claims timely under the revised statute? Is the parties' dispute over timeliness now moot? (3) What issues unrelated to the timeliness of plaintiffs' claims, if any, remain to be decided on appeal? "
The law firm Panish Shea & Boyle, who supported the bill through the legislative process, says, "The bill is a critical step forward for survivors of child sexual assault and is instrumental in the effort to protect California’s children. The bill additionally extends the civil statute of limitations to age 40 or anytime thereafter within five years of discovering related psychological injury. This statute of limitations was previously set at age 26, or within three years of discovery.
The continued, "Data suggests that survivors of childhood sexual abuse typically do not tell anyone about the abuse until they are well into their adulthood. Survivors can finally help protect today’s children by ensuring that what happened to them does not happen to another child."
The statements were made primarily targeting the Catholic Church and the Boy Scott's of America. But, it may impact this case involving Michael Jackson and Wade Robson.
The case is due back in court in November for a hearing on the case.