Judge may unseal part of Jackson abuse claim
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge said Thursday he was inclined to unseal portions of a choreographer’s court filings alleging he was abused by Michael Jackson.
However, personal details and psychiatrist reports would likely not be released.
Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said he needed to address which records should remain sealed before he can deal with whether Wade Robson, a choreographer and television personality, can pursue his claim.
Robson requested on May 1 that Beckloff allow him to file a late creditor’s claim against Jackson’s estate nearly eight years to the day after he testified in Jackson’s defense at the singer’s molestation trial.
Jackson was acquitted after Robson told jurors the entertainer never touched him inappropriately. Henry Gradstein, an attorney for Robson, said a breakdown last year prompted Robson to address the abuse.
Howard Weitzman, an attorney for Jackson’s estate and Thomas Messereau, the lawyer who successfully defended Jackson, have attacked Robson’s credibility and noted his repeated defense of the singer.
Weitzman has called the accusations “outrageous and pathetic.”
“We are confident that the court will see this for what it is” he said at the time the allegations were first made.
On Thursday, Beckloff presented attorneys with possible redactions of Robson’s sworn declaration and said it should serve as a roadmap for what information can be made public.
The judge believes some of the material could be made public, even though attorneys on both sides would like the case sealed in its entirety.
Some of Robson’s private and personal information, including a paragraph that detailed his allegations of abuse by Jackson, should be sealed, Beckloff said.
He also said portions of the records that deal with mental health issues also should not be released.
“There aren’t a lot of redactions,” Beckloff said of his suggestions.
Attorneys for Robson and Jackson’s estate will review the suggestions by the judge and report back at a hearing on June 25, the fourth anniversary of Jackson’s death.
Beckoff, who is overseeing the probate case involving Jackson’s massive estate, said he will also handle a separate lawsuit filed by Robson against Jackson and two other defendants listed as “Doe 2” and “Doe 3″ that includes allegations of abuse by the entertainer. That lawsuit also remains sealed.
Robson, 30, has worked with Britney Spears and numerous other stars. He was 22 at the time he testified, telling jurors in Jackson’s criminal case that he met the pop star when he was 5 and spent the night at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch more than 20 times, sleeping in the singer’s bedroom on most visits.
During the trial, Robson bristled at testimony by other witnesses that they had seen Jackson molest him.
“I’m telling you nothing happened,” Robson testified when a prosecutor challenged his account in 2005.
Gradstein previously issued a statement saying, “Last year, on a career trajectory that was off the charts, (Robson) collapsed under the stress and sexual trauma of what had happened to him for seven years as a child.”
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP