Leaving Neverland documentary

Jackson fans sue singer's alleged victims in France

3 groups behind law suit say accusations against 'King of Pop' sully his memory, hurt his image

Fans of Michael Jackson demonstrating outside Dutch television station NPO against the broadcast of the Leaving Neverland documentary on March 6 in the Netherlands.
Fans of Michael Jackson demonstrating outside Dutch television station NPO against the broadcast of the Leaving Neverland documentary on March 6 in the Netherlands.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ORLEANS (France) • Three Michael Jackson fan groups are suing his alleged victims in France for "sullying his memory" by taking part in the Leaving Neverland documentary, the fans' lawyer has said.

The Michael Jackson Community - which claims to be the "official fan club forum" for the "King of Pop" - and the MJ Street and On The Line groups accuse Mr Wade Robson and Mr James Safechuck of "lynching" the star.

The case, which will be heard by a court in Orleans in northern France in July, follows reports that Jacksons' children were also considering taking legal action against the men, who say that the pop star had sexually abused them when they were children.

Lawyer Emmanuel Ludot, who previously successfully sued Jackson's doctor for causing distress to his fans by giving him the drugs that killed him, told Agence France-Presse last Friday that the groups "want to discredit the accusations of paedophilia" that have long dogged the star.

He said the "indignity of the extremely grave accusations" made by Mr Robson and Mr Safechuck in Leaving Neverland had sullied the memory of the singer, who died in 2009.

Jackson's image, as well as "the whole community of his fans" have been affected by the allegations, the lawyer said.

Leaving Neverland was first broadcast in the US on HBO earlier this month and has since broken streaming records in Britain.

But the film has outraged some of the late idol's fans, who have waged an often vicious social media campaign against his accusers.

A number of radio stations - from Australia to Canada - have stopped playing Jackson's music since the documentary was aired, and the creators of The Simpsons also shelved one of the animated series' classic episodes because it featured Jackson's voice.

French luxury brand Louis Vuitton dropped Jackson-themed clothing last Thursday from a collection it had shown during Paris Fashion Week in January, saying it found the "allegations in the documentary deeply troubling and disturbing".

Mr Virgil Abloh, creator of the pieces and the first black designer to lead a major Paris fashion house, was assailed on social media by Jackson fans for the decision.

"Shame on you for removing all items related to Michael Jackson," one fan wrote on Instagram, while another accused him of being a "traitor... on the white people side".

In 2014, French lawyer Ludot won nominal damages of €1 (S$1.50) from Jackson's personal doctor, Dr Conrad Murray, for the hurt he had caused to his fans for his part in the singer's death.

Dr Murray was sentenced in 2011 to four years in jail for manslaughter for giving Jackson what turned out to be a lethal dose of the anaesthetic drug Propofol to help him sleep.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 17, 2019, with the headline 'Jackson fans sue singer's alleged victims in France'. Print Edition | Subscribe