Michael Jackson escaped arrest yesterday by sending an attorney to represent him at a hearing for his latest sexual assault lawsuit.

He 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 fine.

Charles Gay, Jackson's lawyer, argued an administration misunderstanding had prevented Jackson from attending the hearings and apologized 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 is seeking unspecified damages and alleges he was held against his will for several days and sexually assaulted by Jackson, while he was aged just 18. Fallon has scheduled a trial date on September 7. Gay warned that the defense would be ferocious - on a par with Jackson's sophisticated representation during his child molestation trial in June where he was found not guilty on all 10 counts.