Michael Jackson fans file defamation lawsuit against victims featured in Leaving Neverland

Fans of Michael Jackson have filed a defamation lawsuit against the two men featured in the documentary Leaving Neverland.

Released earlier this year, the four-hour documentary details Jackson’s long-running relationships with two underage boys, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, both of who accused the pop singer of molesting them throughout the 1980s and 90s.

Now, according to Reuters, fan groups including the Michel Jackson Community, the MJ Street, and On the Line have filed a defamation suit against Safechuck and Robson in a French court. (Unlike in the US, French defamation laws extend libel protection beyond death.)

The fan groups are seeking symbolic damages of 1 euro ($ 1.13) from each man on grounds that they are “sullying [Jackson’s] image.”

Speaking to Reuters, the fan groups’ lawyer, Emmanuel Ludot, likened the men’s allegations to a “genuine lynching.” He added, “In France you cannot sully the image of the dead. There’s moral and emotional suffering. And when there’s suffering, there’s compensation. It’s very simple.”

Jackson’s estate previously threatened legal action against HBO after announcing plans to distribute Leaving Neverland. In a letter to HBO at the time, an attorney for the estate described the film as “an admittedly one-sided, sensationalist program” and said that HBO was “being used as part of Robson’s and Safechuck’s legal strategy” (the men are seeking appeals in lawsuits against the estate.) The legal threats proved hollow, however, as HBO aired the documentary as planned.

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