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Jackson allegations and fight over them return with new film

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — An attorney representing two Michael Jackson accusers who appear in an upcoming documentary says their sexual-abuse allegations have not been discredited as the Jackson estate says, and deserve to be heard.

Vince Finaldi, who represents Wade Robson and James Safechuck in lawsuits alleging Jackson molested them, said the suits were dismissed on technical grounds, not the credibility of the men’s claims, and they are now under appeal.

“There were never any rulings to the court as to their testimony,” Finaldi told The Associated Press Thursday. “We stand by our clients, and we believe them, and we fully expect them to be vindicated.”

The stories of Robson and Safechuck, who came forward as adults to say Jackson had sexually abused them for years when they were boys, will be heard again in the two-part, four-hour documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which will air on HBO and British public broadcaster Channel 4 in the spring. It premieres Jan. 25 at the Sundance Film Festival, the channels announced Wednesday.

The Jackson estate released a statement saying the documentary is “just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations.”

“Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them,” the statement said, adding that both had filed lawsuits that have been dismissed.

Jackson in 2005 was acquitted of criminal molestation charges, which did not involve Robson or Safechuck.

Robson testified at that trial, saying he had slept in Jackson’s room many times, but Jackson had never molested him. Safechuck made similar statements to investigators as a boy.

Then in 2013 Robson filed a lawsuit that said stress and trauma had forced him to face the truth that he was sexually abused by Jackson, who died in 2009. Safechuck filed a similar lawsuit the following year.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, which Robson and Safechuck have done in multiple ways.

“Leaving Neverland” director and producer Dan Reed said in a statement that “It took great courage for these two men to tell their stories and I have no question about their validity.”

“If there’s anything we’ve learned during this time in our history, it’s that sexual abuse is complicated, and survivors’ voices need to be listened to,” Reed said.

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Michael Avenatti charged with extortion, wire fraud in Los Angeles, New York

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UPDATE: Mark Geragos, an attorney for Colin Kaepernick, Jussie Smollett, and other celebrities, is an alleged co-conspirator in the scheme to extort Nike, according to the Wall Street Journal. He has not been charged.

(VICE News) — Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti has been arrested and charged with federal wire fraud and bank fraud in California as well as four counts of extortion in New York, prosecutors from two separate districts announced Monday.

Avenatti tried to extort more than $20 million from Nike, according to a federal complaint filed in New York’s Southern District. In a second, apparently unrelated case, Avenatti embezzled a client’s money to, in part, pay off expenses for his coffee business, Global Baristas US LLC, which operated Tully’s Coffee stores, according to federal prosecutors in California.

Avenatti purchased the coffee stores in 2013 with actor Patrick Dempsey, who sued Avenatti that same year to break their business partnership. The prosecutors in California also accused the lawyer of defrauding a bank with phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.

Avenatti is facing 50 years in federal prison over the charges in California. He will have his initial court appearance in New York on Monday, and he’s scheduled to have another in California at a later date. His bail is currently set at $50,000.

In an attempt to extort money from Nike, Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call and announce allegations of misconduct by Nike employees, prosecutors said. “I’ll go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap,” Avenatti told Nike’s attorneys on March 19, according to the complaint. “I’m not f*cking around.”

Avenatti on Monday posted a tweet saying we would be holding a press conference to disclose a “major high school/college basketball scandal” perpetrated by Nike that he claimed to have uncovered. “This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball,” Avenatti said in the tweet.

Read the federal complaint against Michael Avenatti in Southern District of New York below:

Read the federal complaint against Avenatti in the Central District of California:

Developing story…more to come…

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DOJ NOT SENDING ‘PRINCIPAL CONCLUSIONS’ OF MUELLER REPORT TO HILL TODAY

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 (CNN) — Attorney General William Barr is not sending the “principal conclusions” of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to lawmakers Saturday, multiple congressional sources and a Justice Department official told CNN.

But Barr conveyed to his team he still wants to get the conclusions to the Hill by this weekend, according to the Justice official.

Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein arrived at their Justice Department offices Saturday morning to work together, reviewing and analyzing Mueller’s confidential report, the official told CNN.

The official said that Barr and Rosenstein, along with a select few advisers, were still there as of Saturday afternoon.

The “principal conclusions” that Barr promised lawmakers will be derived from the special counsel’s report — a distillation of the main takeaways from the report, rather than a word-for-word summary.

The expectation, according to the official, continues to be that the document sent to Congress with the conclusions will also be made public.

Barr’s submission to Congress and the public is being eagerly anticipated on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, with lawmakers and the White House waiting to learn more about Mueller’s findings.

But the waiting game will continue for at least one more day now, after Mueller submitted his report to Barr on Friday.

Barr announced on Friday evening that Mueller had submitted his confidential report and that the 22-month special counsel investigation had concluded.

The end of the investigation also means that no more indictments are coming from the special counsel, according to a Justice Department official, which Republican allies of President Donald Trump say is a sign that the President will be vindicated by the Mueller report.

But a battle is brewing between the Trump administration and congressional Democrats over Mueller’s report. Democrats say the public needs to see Mueller’s full report for itself — and not a summarized version from Barr — and they are demanding that Mueller’s underlying evidence is provided to Capitol Hill.

House Democrats held a caucus-wide call Saturday afternoon to discuss the next steps for the House, which has its own sprawling set of Democratic-led investigations into Trump’s administration, finances and business already underway.

They renewed their demands for full transparency of the Mueller report, according to people on the call.

Democratic leaders circulated talking points to their members arguing that “the White House must not be allowed to interfere with the report’s release.”

The talking points include details about why they believe there’s precedent supporting the release of a report, pointing to the hiring of a special counsel in 1999 to investigate the 1993 incident in Waco, Texas. They also point to precedent involving the Justice Department providing 880,000 pages of internal material last year to the House as part of the GOP probe into the FBI’s Hillary Clinton investigation — as well as how the Justice Department provided records to the Hill over the Watergate probe.

“If necessary, Democrats would be prepared to use its subpoena authority to obtain the full report and underlying evidence as well as to obtain briefing and testimony from the Special Counsel, the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and other necessary officials,” the talking points said.

On the call, which lasted roughly 35 minutes, Democrats argued that the public will is overwhelmingly on their side for full transparency, pointing to public opinion polls to make their case.

“Right now, we are in the mode (of) wanting to know the truth, wanting the facts so that our chairpersons and members of the committees can take a look into this going forward,” Pelosi said, according to a person on the call.

Mueller’s 22-month investigation led to charges against 37 defendants, seven guilty pleas and one conviction at trial, which included charges against Trump’s former campaign chairman, national security adviser and personal attorney.

Allies of Trump have pointed to the fact that none of the indictments against the Trump associates were tied to any conspiracy to collude with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

It’s still not known what Mueller found with respect to the President, but the fact he was not subpoenaed for a sit down interview with the special counsel’s team is a significant triumph in itself for Trump and his legal team.

Barr wrote in his letter that throughout the investigation, Justice Department leaders never told the special counsel a proposed action should not be pursued.

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POLICE STONED AT FLASH MOB IN FRANKFURT

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A flash mob in Germany turned violent on Saturday as teenagers attacked and threw stones at police officers, authorities said.

About 600 youths gathered in Frankfurt on Saturday evening, before running up and down a popular shopping street “without taking any account of passers-by,” police said in a statement.

A 17-year-old then punched a police officer as he attempted to issue the flash mob’s organizer with a dispersal notice, causing the officer to be injured. As the teenager was arrested, other attendees began throwing stones at the officers.

“Due to his resistance, the teenager had to be brought to the ground. He suffered a minor injury, which was immediately treated on an outpatient medical basis,” police claimed.

They added that two male and one female police officers were hit by stones, with one being hit on the head.

Investigations have now begun into those responsible for the flash mob, and whether they will have to pay for damages incurred.

The event was being staged by two separate YouTubers and their fans, police added on Twitter.

It follows similar scenes in Berlin on Thursday, when fans at an event organizer by another YouTuber were arrested.

(CNN)

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