Neither Michael Jackson nor his attorney showed up today (July 20) for a hearing in a civil case that accuses the pop star of sexual assaulting an 18-year-old during the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans.
U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon scheduled an Aug. 17 hearing in which Jackson must show why he should not be held in civil contempt or have a default judgment entered against him.
Today’s hearing was supposed to be procedural for Jackson to show he had legal representation. Jackson family spokesperson Brian Oxman couldn’t explain why Jackson wasn’t represented at the hearing but said it would be taken care of.
“I will take care of this matter and make sure it is handled in an appropriate way — the order from the court today and the lawsuit,” Oxman said.
He said the allegations against Jackson are false and said the lawsuit is another trying to take advantage of the singer’s wealth and celebrity.
Joseph T. Bartucci Jr. claims in the lawsuit that he was lured into Jackson’s limousine, then held against his will and sexually assaulted during a drive to California and back.
Bartucci was 18 at the time and claims he repressed the memories until 2003, when he saw media coverage of a child molestation trial at which Jackson was acquitted. The suit asks for an unspecified amount of money to compensate for alleged emotional and physical damage.
Jackson hired a team of local attorneys after Bartucci filed suit in November, but they withdrew from the case in April and have sued Jackson for $50,000 in legal fees.
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