New Orleans An irate judge, miffed by Michael Jackson's failure to have his lawyer show up for a hearing in a civil case, fined the singer $10,000 on Wednesday.
Jackson was a no-show and had no lawyer present at a July hearing in the case accusing him of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man during the 1984 World's Fair. Jackson denies the accusations.
Jackson attorney Charles F. Gay Jr. told U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon on Wednesday that the summons for the court date was simply lost in the confusion of the pop singer's child molestation trial in California.
The summons for the New Orleans court appearance arrived on June 13 - the day that Jackson was acquitted.
"I would like to point out that June 13 was probably the most anxious day of Michael Jackson's life," Gay said. "That was the day the jury reached the verdict."
At that time, Gay told the judge, Jackson was not eating or sleeping and was worried about his and his children's futures.
"The order of June 13 did not get in the proper people's hands because of the chaos in Michael Jackson's life," Gay said.
The judge said that he did not feel it was appropriate to fine Jackson for contempt, but he was not sold on Gay's excuse, either, so he levied other fines related to court costs.
"It strains my understanding of the facts that Mr. Jackson did not know of this matter," Fallon said.
In the federal civil lawsuit, Joseph Thomas Bartucci Jr. claims he was lured into Jackson's limousine by one of the singer's employees in 1984, held against his will for days and sexually assaulted.
Bartucci claims he repressed the memories until 2003, when he saw the coverage of the child molestation charges against Jackson.
Bartucci is seeking unspecified monetary compensation from Jackson on a variety of claims such as emotional distress.
Bartucci's attorney, William A. Pigg, said that he would push for a quick trial.
"My client has been under a great deal of stress," Pigg said. "He has been the victim of character assassination."
Jackson's lawyer doubts the case will ever go to trial.
There is a one-year statue of limitations from the time Bartucci claims he regained his memory, but Gay said that Bartucci allegedly discussed the allegations with his wife during the 1990s.