Michael Jackson fans sue singer's alleged abuse victims for 'damaging memory of the dead'

When Michael Jackson superfan Myriam Walter first saw the...

Posted: Jul 15, 2019 8:36 AM

When Michael Jackson superfan Myriam Walter first saw the HBO "Leaving Neverland" documentary, in which two key witnesses gave a graphic account of sexual abuse at the hands of the star, she said she cried and wanted to vomit.

Referring to Jackson's alleged pedophilia, the 62-year-old former French nurse said, "I know that it is not possible," despite having never met the star. "It was rotten. It was to make a buzz. It was to make money."

Now she is among three groups of fans who are suing the two victims of Jackson's alleged abuse, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, in a French court, hoping to challenge a perceived smear of their idol, who died in 2009.

Robson and Safechuck, now aged 41 and 37 respectively, alleged in the four-hour documentary that they endured years of sexual abuse by Jackson when they were minors in the late 1980s and early '90s.

While neither are resident in France, they are being sued in that country where it is illegal to make criminal accusations against the deceased.

US-based lawyers representing Robson and Safechuck said the pair had no comment to make on the case. Officials at the court in the northern city of Orleans, where the case was heard earlier this month, confirmed that the pair were not present and had no legal representation.

Robson and Safechuck are being sued for a symbolic sum of one euro ($1.13) each, for "damaging the memory of the dead," the case claims.

"It is not about money, it is an affair of the heart," said Emmanuel Ludot, the lawyer representing the fans.

Walter, president of one of the groups, MJ Community, which has 600 members, attended the first court hearing. Referring to Jackson, she said: "He had a great heart. It is not right to make these claims against someone who isn't even alive to defend themselves."

The other groups, On The Line and MJ Street, accuse the documentary of revisionism and point to errors in the timeline of abuse provided by Safechuck.

Brice Najar, president of On the Line and author of multiple books on Jackson, explained: "I wouldn't defend someone whatever the evidence, but he has already been acquitted and there have already been inquiries. I am in my 40s. I have kids."

The tribunal said a decision would be delivered on October 4.

'Their pain is sincere'

The accusations in the documentary were not the first made against Jackson. In 1993, a 13-year-old boy accused the King of Pop of sexually molesting him over a five-month period. The case was settled when Jackson paid close to $25 million.

In 2013, Jackson was acquitted of abusing another child, also 13, who had cancer at the time of the alleged offense.

Among the evidence presented by Ludot in court were written testimonies from tens of group members: several fans were diagnosed with depression and mental problems following the release of the documentary.

"I believe their pain is sincere," said Ludot, who in 2014 won a symbolic euro from Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, who was ruled to have caused fans distress for his part in the star's death.

While the lawyer did not disclose his fee for the case, Walter confided that it was "expensive."

Many of the French fans had booked tickets to Jackson's mammoth 50-show run, scheduled to take place in London's O2 arena in 2009-10. The concerts were canceled following the singer's death. Although tickets were around 800 euros, most of the fans did not ask for refund. "They held onto the tickets, like relics," explained Ludot. "For them, he is like Christ."

Walter set up MJ Community, with the help of her first daughter, following Jackson's death. While pregnant with her daughter, she listened extensively to his music. "Jennifer [the daughter] has known Michael all her life," she said.

That same year, MJ community helped organize a gathering of close to 4,000 fans in Paris to celebrate the life of the star. In 2010, the organization gained the legal status of a religion -- the first fan group in France ever to do so according to the group's lawyer and local media reports.

"I would do anything for him [Jackson]", said Walter, adding: "I would defend him until the end."

Ludot said the legal battle has the full support of the Jackson family, who have previously called the film a "public lynching." The family also described Jackson's accusers as "admitted liars," in reference to sworn statements made by both Safechuck and Robson while Jackson was alive that he did not molest them.

Ludot says he has been approached by Jackson fan groups from Switzerland, Sweden, Italy and elsewhere, to clear the pop legend's name via the French legal system.

In a statement, John Branca, co-executor of Jackson's estate, wrote: "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."

HBO, which made the documentary, shares a parent company (AT&T) with CNN.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312712

Reported Deaths: 7223
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21445257
Hinds20264414
Harrison17785308
Rankin13548278
Jackson13401246
Madison10055217
Lee9959173
Jones8361163
Forrest7638152
Lauderdale7191240
Lowndes6361144
Lamar620686
Lafayette6164118
Washington5318133
Bolivar4796132
Oktibbeha460698
Panola4550105
Pearl River4493145
Marshall4393103
Warren4371121
Pontotoc419372
Monroe4089133
Union408876
Neshoba4022176
Lincoln3944110
Hancock376886
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335590
Tate332084
Pike3290105
Scott314973
Alcorn311268
Yazoo310269
Itawamba299277
Copiah296065
Coahoma293979
Simpson293888
Tippah287468
Prentiss278960
Marion268780
Leake265573
Wayne262241
Adams261882
Grenada260085
Covington256281
George246748
Newton246161
Winston226881
Tishomingo225467
Jasper220748
Attala214173
Chickasaw206957
Holmes188672
Clay184654
Stone181833
Clarke177879
Tallahatchie177840
Calhoun169732
Yalobusha162936
Smith162134
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125838
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104626
Claiborne102230
Benton99025
Humphreys96133
Kemper95328
Franklin83423
Quitman79916
Choctaw76018
Wilkinson66830
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 529446

Reported Deaths: 10930
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763031516
Mobile40850804
Madison34622501
Tuscaloosa25701451
Montgomery24289585
Shelby23367247
Baldwin21035307
Lee15822169
Calhoun14469313
Morgan14266279
Etowah13806352
Marshall12185222
Houston10533280
Elmore10029205
Limestone9948150
Cullman9640193
St. Clair9589239
Lauderdale9407239
DeKalb8814185
Talladega8199175
Walker7214277
Autauga6914108
Jackson6801111
Blount6635136
Colbert6288134
Coffee5498117
Dale4820111
Russell438438
Chilton4258111
Franklin424782
Covington4111117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia393076
Chambers3555123
Dallas3543151
Clarke350661
Marion3105100
Pike310177
Lawrence299798
Winston273672
Bibb260463
Marengo249064
Geneva247676
Pickens233659
Barbour230756
Hale222276
Butler215869
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184145
Randolph179241
Monroe177040
Washington167039
Macon158850
Clay155156
Crenshaw151957
Cleburne148341
Lamar141534
Lowndes138553
Wilcox126729
Bullock122941
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa106928
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 67°
Columbus
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 67°
Oxford
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 66°
We can expect plentiful sunshine Thursday with nice, warm temperatures. But going into the late afternoon and early evening, a brief disturbance could bring a quick round of showers and perhaps a thunderstorm through the area.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather