July 8, 2013

Bugging me right now™: Wade Robson

Welcome to Bugging Me Right Now™, a recurring blog segment that deals with entertainment news I can’t seem to shake. (Another thing that has me obsessed: Finding a better name for this friggin’ segment.)

This week, what’s bugging me is Wade Robson. You’ll remember Wade Robson as the 30-year-old dancer who, as a child, was totally, completely not being abused by Michael Jackson. Cut to a few weeks ago, and get this: Wade Robson was absolutely positively abused by Jackson. So sayeth Wade Robson.

How do I know this? Because Robson, who defended Jackson’s honor during his 2005 molestation trial, has now filed a claim against the dead singer’s estate. The jist of Robson’s argument: That he didn’t know that his childhood activities with Jackson constituted abuse, until more recently, when Robson went through therapy. Now, Robson knows he’s a victim, and he wants compensation.

Here’s the problem: The statutes of limitation. No matter what starting-line you use–the date of Jackson’s death, the dates of the alleged abuses, the date when Robson first had his apparent epiphany–those statues are long expired. And Robson seems to know that. 

Which brings me to my current obsession: The odds are so, so stacked against this guy. So what. The frack. Does Robson. Think. He is doing.

In between tearing out my hair in bloody chunks, I reached out to a couple of lawyers who specialize in this stuff. (Not abuse-epiphany stuff. Suing-dead-people stuff.) And they calmed me the hell down. They explained that there are a couple of possible (and very cash-oriented) reasons for Robson’s apparent kamikaze mission.

Attorney Irwin Feinberg notes that, even if Robson never wins a dime from the Jackson estate, the dancer’s public filing and subsequent press coverage has garnered something much more valuable.

“Other than a hail-Mary pass at trying to get this claim heard, I think he’s just hoping on getting publicity,” Feinberg notes. And publicity equals potential interest from press. The kind of press that pays thousands of dollars for exclusive interviews. Or maybe Robson crafts a book deal and earns himself a nice, hefty advance.

Mission accomplished. Robson now has money.

The other possible strategy is that Robson thinks he can play a long game against the Jackson estate.

“Oftentimes,” notes Greenberg Glusker’s Ricardo Cestero, “people will file incredibly long-shot claims and come up with novel arguments about why they should be allowed to get around the statutes, on the off chance that they can convince a judge that their arguments pass the smell test.”

Then, as Cestero and colleague Laura Zwicker explained to me, “they get the case far enough along where the executor of the estate will say, ‘You know what? Here’s a few hundred thousand dollars to go away, because we don’t want to keep fighting this case.’”

And I am now officially at peace. Hairless. But at peace.

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  1. Not to be an anti-cynic, but I absolutely believe his story of coming to terms with his abuse and the lawsuit as part of his catharsis. I don't think he's a publicity hound. Very shy, from what I've seen of him in person.

    My possibly naive 2c. Miss you. ~j

  2. Hi hon! I really appreciate you writing in with what you know. If Wade Robson was indeed abused by MJ (and I believe he was) I do hope he gets what he deserves from the Jackson estate. I think my confusion came from his timing, you know?

  3. I appreciate this post! it expresses your confusion without name-calling or bashing ( I have never understood how ppl could do that to someone that may have been sexually assaulted). I believe him and having worked with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and assault I assume that a big part of his claim is just an attempt at a "do over" on his previous testimonies. Survivors do it all the time. Especially ones that have defended their abusers in the past. It helps rid them of some of their guilt. It also tends to do survivors a lot of good to get to tell the truth in court once they are emotionally in a place where they can handle doing so. Prior to that recounting their abuse in a room of people w/ no purpose other than judging them is fairly damaging. With that said, his timing is awful! And it does him no favors that, if he is telling the truth, his previous testimonies basically set a recidivist pedophile free to offend again.

    tl;dr: I completely understand your confusion.