fraudster blows court appearance

One-time owner of misses court testimony

Former owner of the Web site is facing a bench warrant for his arrest after failing to appear before a US District Court, last Wednesday

Stephen Cohen gained control of the popular URL in 1995 after issuing a forged consent from Gary Kremen, who had registered, a year earlier. A trial was scheduled for last week to assess why Cohen had failed to pay the $25m (£17m) damages that Kremen was judged to have incurred while Cohen used the site between 1995 and 1999.

Cohen communicated through his lawyers that he does not possess $25m. Judge James Ware had ordered Cohen to appear in court a day before the trial was due to start on Thursday, in order to testify to the assets that he has. Cohen's lawyer had told the court that he could not appear because he was under house arrest in Tijuana, Mexico.

His failure to appear in court was "one of several" times that Cohen had not shown up for scheduled proceedings, argued Tim Fox, lawyer for Kremen. The trial has now been rescheduled for this Thursday, and Fox has warned that Cohen's failure to attend again could be costly.

"The trial will go forward, whether he appears or not. However, because of his past failures to appear, the court issued several orders preventing him from disputing many of the issues of the case," said Fox.

Cohen already owns several other sites, including and Receivers have been appointed to run Cohen's other Web sites. According a US House of Representatives report, the online pornography sector averaged $2.7m (£1.84m) per day during 1999, making it the most consistently successful e-commerce product on the Web.

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