Seattle woman accuses magician David Copperfield of sexual assault
A Seattle woman has filed a federal lawsuit against magician and entertainer David Copperfield, claiming he sexually assaulted and threatened her while she was a guest on his private island in the Bahamas two years ago.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A Seattle woman has filed a federal lawsuit against magician and entertainer David Copperfield, claiming he sexually assaulted and threatened her while she was a guest on his private island in the Bahamas two years ago. The lawsuit was filed even as the U.S. Attorney's Office is considering whether to file criminal charges in the case.
The woman, a 22-year-old fashion model and former Miss Washington USA contestant, filed the lawsuit on July 29 in U.S. District Court in Seattle against David Seth Kotkin, Copperfield's given name. That date was the deadline for a two-year statute of limitations in the case.
The Seattle Times is not naming her because she is an alleged victim of sexual assault.
The woman is seeking unspecified damages for infliction of emotional distress, false misrepresentation and false imprisonment.
Copperfield, a multimillionaire entertainer and popular Las Vegas performer, was dragged through the tabloids after the allegations became public in 2007, when the FBI raided his Las Vegas warehouse and it was reported that a grand jury in Seattle was investigating the alleged assault.
On Wednesday, he issued a bare-knuckled response to the lawsuit, entitled, "Copperfield Sets the Record Straight." He accused the woman of "extortion for money, plain and simple." The woman, according to Copperfield's attorneys, Angelo Calfo and Patty Eakes, "has a history of lying, ... which continues in this lawsuit."
Eakes is a former sexual-assault prosecutor for King County.
The woman's attorney, Rebecca Roe of Seattle, said she could not discuss the case.
The woman alleges she met Copperfield during a January 2007 performance in Kennewick, when he called her on stage to perform in his act. After the show, the lawsuit alleges, an assistant took her personal information, snapped her photograph and said Copperfield might be interested in helping her career.
In July 2007, the woman alleges, she was invited to Musha Cay, Copperfield's $50 million private island in the Bahamas. The woman was assured, the lawsuit said, that others would be on the island and that she would have her own room.
The lawsuit alleges Copperfield and his assistant misled the woman and knew that she would be alone with him. The woman claims that she wouldn't have gone had she known she'd be alone with the magician.
The assistant is also named in the lawsuit, but Roe has moved to dismiss the claims against her because of jurisdictional issues.
The lawsuit claims Copperfield told her that others would be coming the next day.
She said the 52-year-old magician drove her to the beach her first night on the island, and then returned to her room and removed her passport from her purse.
After dinner and watching a movie in Copperfield's room, the woman claims, he "attacked [her] and sexually assaulted her" on the bed, threatening to kill her if she didn't perform certain sex acts.
"Throughout the assault (the woman) physically and verbally resisted Defendant Copperfield and struggled to get away from him," the lawsuit claims.
The next day, she said, she tried to hide but Copperfield found her and took her back to the private beach outside his bedroom. She said the magician held her head underwater until she thought she would drown after she refused his demand to "get naked."
"He then told her, 'this is an example of what you will get if you tell anyone.' " The lawsuit alleges he took off her swimsuit top and forced her to perform another sex act.
She claims a third assault took place when Copperfield dragged her from the shower in her room a short time later.
The woman said she was taken to Nassau, where she called her family to report the assault. She flew to Seattle and was taken to the Harborview Medical Center's Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress where she was examined. A federal source has confirmed that some of her clothing was taken into evidence.
The woman reported the matter to Seattle police, who said a report was taken. Police have declined to release the report. The woman then went to the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the FBI opened an investigation and sources have confirmed a grand jury convened to hear the case.
Mark Bartlett, the first assistant U.S. Attorney in Seattle and the man who will make the final decision on whether criminal charges are warranted, declined to comment.
Copperfield has disputed the allegations from the outset. His attorneys say that there were more than 40 people on the island during the woman's three-night, four-day visit.
"Her allegation that there was no one on the island to help her — even if she needed help — is preposterous," his statement says. The woman met and talked with other guests, sunbathed "and swam on island beaches, day after day. She even had dinner with a group of island guests," according to the statement.
"She came to the island because she wanted to — no one lied to her — and she could have left the island on her own at any time," the statement says.
Mike Carter: 206-464-3706
Copyright © The Seattle Times Company
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