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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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Trump Says He’ll Make a ‘Major Announcement’ Saturday Afternoon About Shutdown, Border

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Washington (AP) — Trump says he will make a ‘major announcement’ on Saturday afternoon about the government shutdown and border security.

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Trump Administration Separated Thousands More Migrants Than Previously Known

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The Trump Administration separated thousands more migrant kids from their families at the border than it previously acknowledged, and the separations started months before the policy was announced, according to a federal audit released Thursday morning.

“More children over a longer period of time” were separated at the border than commonly known, an investigator with the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general’s office told reporters Thursday morning.

“How many more children were separated is unknown, by us and HHS” because of failures to track families as they were being separated, he said.

HHS officials involved in caring for the separated children and reunifying families estimated “thousands” of additional children are separated at the border, the inspector general said.

The report sheds new light on the Trump administration’s efforts to deter border crossings by separating migrant families. House Democrats who’ve condemned the separations as inhumane have vowed to investigate the administration’s handling of the policy and its health effects on separated children, and the inspector general said additional investigations are in the works.

The inspector general report said some family separations continued, even after President Donald Trump in June 2018 ended the policy amid uproar and a federal court ordered his administration to reunify the families. The June 2018 court order called on the administration to reunify about 2,500 separated children in government custody. Most of those families were reunited within 30 days.

However, HHS received at least 118 separated children between July and early November, according to the report. DHS provided “limited” information about the reason for those separations. In slightly more than half of those cases, border officials cited the parent’s criminal history as a reason to separate the families, although they did not always provide details. The court order requiring reunifications said family separations should only occur if border officials could specify when parents posed possible dangers to children or were otherwise unfit to care for them, the inspector general noted.

Federal investigators said they had no details about how many of the “thousands of separated children” who entered the care of HHS before the June 2018 court order had been reunited.

“We have no information about the status of the children who were released prior to the court order,” Maxwell told reporters. [POLITICO]

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Prince Phillip Involved in Car Crash

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#BREAKING Duke of Edinburgh involved in car crash near Sandringham Estate but not injured, Buckingham Palace says.

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