Michael Jackson fans are suing the "Leaving Neverland" accusers
The late singer’s estate hopes the lawsuit will “fuel a movement” to change libel protections for the deceased in the U.S.
Michael Jackson’s dedicated fans in France have joined forces on behalf of working to preserve the reputation of the late pop legend.
As reported by The Associated Press, three organizations – Michael Jackson Community, MJ Street and On the Line – have collectively filed a lawsuit against Wade Robson and James Safechuck, the two men who publicly accused Jackson of sexual abuse in the explosive HBO documentary, “Leaving Neverland.”
The organizations claim Robson and Safechuck are posthumously damaging Jackson’s reputation. A lawyer representing the fan clubs, Emmanuel Ludot, said that he is seeking conviction under a French law, where libel laws extend to the deceased. In other words, in France, it is against the law to publicly denounce a dead person.
While such laws do not extend to the deceased in the United States and in the United Kingdom, the decision to move forward with a lawsuit in France could potentially influence politicians to revisit the matter and work to revise libel laws in the states.
As reported, the fan clubs are seeking a judgement of one euro each in symbolic damages.
Additionally, John Branca, co-executor of Jackson’s estate, has issued a statement in support of the French fan clubs decision to attempt legal action.
“The Estate is in full support of [lawyer Emmanuel] Ludot’s efforts on behalf of Michael and his beloved fans in France and across the globe that the truth shall ultimately prevail,” Branca said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “We remain hopeful that a victory in France will soon fuel a movement in the United States to finally explore changes in the law to afford defamation protection for the deceased.”
As previously reported, “Leaving Neverland” made its debut in January, going on to hit HBO in March. Throughout the film, Robson and Safechuck make severe and detailed allegations against Jackson, claiming the late pop star groomed and sexually abused them when they were children.
The Jackson estate has denied the allegations, as well as filed a lawsuit against HBO. Jackson’s estate claims the film violates a non-disparagement clause stemming from a 1992 contract between Jackson and the network.
HBO has since issued an opposition to the $100 million lawsuit.