Troubled Michael Jackson has escaped arrest today (17AUG05) by sending an attorney to represent him at a hearing for his latest sexual assault lawsuit.

The singer has failed to attend or send a lawyer to two court summonses regarding the case and US District Judge ELDON FALLON has hit Jackson with a $10,000 (GBP5,550) fine.

CHARLES GAY, Jackson's lawyer, argued an administration misunderstanding had prevented Jackson from attending the hearings and apologised on his behalf.

But Fallon insisted he would have ordered Jackson's arrest had he not ordered Gay to attend today's hearing.

The plaintiff, JOSEPH BARTUCCI is seeking unspecified damages and alleges he was held against his will for several days and sexually assaulted by the THRILLER star in 1984, aged just 18.

Fallon has scheduled a trial date on 7 September (05).

Gay warned that the defence would be ferocious - on a par with Jackson's sophisticated representation during his child molestation trial in June (05) where he was found "not guilty" on all counts.