Three French Michael Jackson fan clubs have filed a lawsuit against the two men accusing the late musician of sexual abuse in 2019’s Leaving Neverland documentary, Reuters reports.
The Michael Jackson Community, MJ Street and On the Line fan organizations are suing accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck of posthumously damaging the reputation of the late musician and seeking only a symbolic ruling of 1 euro (or $1.13) each.
Regional libel law is a key part of the organization’s decision to come forward in France. Though U.S. and U.K. libel law doesn’t permit suing for loss of reputation on behalf of the deceased, French defamation laws are still applicable after death.
Emmanuel Ludot, a lawyer for the fan clubs, likened the accusers’ allegations to a “genuine lynching” of Jackson, Reuters reports. Ludot previously represented the Michael Jackson Community in a suit against the musician’s private doctor for his part in Jackson’s death and successfully won nominal damages of 1 euro.
Leaving Neverland detailed the abuse Robson and Safechuck suffered at the hands of the late musician, who allegedly groomed and sexually abused the two men beginning when they were seven and 10 years old, respectively.
The Jackson estate, which has denied all allegations and sought legal action against HBO, has expressed its support for the fan clubs’ efforts on behalf of Jackson and “his beloved fans” across the globe “that the truth shall ultimately prevail.”
“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,” John Branca, co-executor of the Estate of Michael Jackson, told Page Six.
The court will deliver a judgment on Oct. 4. For now, revisit our essay on the documentary and its empathetic undertones here.