Michael Jackson, who had missed two court appearances in a sexual assault lawsuit, avoided arrest Wednesday by sending an attorney to a hearing in New Orleans, a judge said.
U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon slapped Jackson with a $10,000 fine for missing two previous summonses. The singer’s lawyer, Charles Gay, told a hearing that clerical errors prevented Jackson from responding to the notices.
“Somehow the order did not get conveyed to the right people,” Gay told the court.
Fallon said he would have ordered Jackson’s arrest and possibly a default judgment in the plaintiff’s favor had Gay not attended the hearing Wednesday. The plaintiff is asking for unspecified damages.
The plaintiff sued last November, saying he was lured into Jackson’s limousine during the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans and sexually assaulted. The assaults continued over eight days as the pair traveled to California, the suit alleges. The plaintiff said he was drugged, cut with a razor blade and bitten.
The man waited to sue because the memories were repressed until news coverage of the child molestation charges against Jackson in California revived them, the suit said.
In that case, a jury acquitted Jackson in June of molesting a 13-year-old boy in 2003.
Gay told Reuters he believes the suit is invalid because of a one-year statute of limitations. The plaintiff’s attorneys argue the one-year window opened only when the man, who was 18 at the time of the alleged attack, remembered it in 2003.
Gay promised a vigorous defense.
Fallon set a Sept. 7 hearing to schedule a trial in the New Orleans case.