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Originally published October 27, 2009 at 4:21 PM | Page modified October 27, 2009 at 11:32 PM

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Judge issues stay in rape suit against David Copperfield

A federal judge has issued a six-month stay in the civil lawsuit filed by a former Miss Washington USA contestant who claims she was raped by illusionist David Copperfield while on his private island in the Bahamas.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A federal judge has issued a six-month stay in the civil lawsuit filed by a former Miss Washington USA contestant who claims she was raped by illusionist David Copperfield while on his private island in the Bahamas.

U.S. District Judge John Coughenour stayed the case on Tuesday at the request of Copperfield so the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle can complete a criminal investigation into the woman's allegation.

The woman filed the suit in July just before a two-year statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit was about to expire. While the lawsuit identifies her, The Seattle Times has not published her name because of the newspaper's policy to protect the identities of alleged victims of sexual assault.

The woman alleges she was attacked by Copperfield while visiting the 52-year-old illusionist's $50 million private island in the Bahamas in July 2007. The woman said she met Copperfield, whose real name is David Seth Kotkin, during a performance in Kennewick.

Copperfield, who is one of the wealthiest entertainers in the world, denies any sexual assault and claims the woman is a gold digger.

Copperfield recently sought a stay in the woman's civil suit, saying he was being put in the untenable legal position of having to provide information in the civil case that could be used against him in a criminal prosecution. His attorneys argued that Copperfield might have to invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination in the civil case, because disclosures there could be used against him in the criminal investigation.

The woman's attorney, Becky Roe of Seattle, has agreed to the stay, saying her client has already waited two years.

Prosecutors have said they are close to winding up their investigation and said a decision on whether to file criminal charges would be made in the next six months. Coughenour set a status hearing for the case in March.

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or mcarter@seattletimes.com

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