A Seattle woman has accused magician David Copperfield of luring her to his remote private island in the Caribbean, raping her repeatedly, and threatening to kill her if she told anyone. Her complaint reads like a horrifying pulp novel.
The woman first made the accusations two years ago to the Seattle Police Department and then to the FBI, which launched an investigation that appears to be still ongoing. But on July 29, she filed a civil lawsuit against Copperfield, revealing the truly creepy details for the first time. The Seattle Times reported on the lawsuit last night.
The accuser says she attended a Copperfield show in Kennewick, Wash., two years ago and was pulled from the crowd to participate in the act. After the show, Copperfield's assistant told her to stick around to meet the magician. She was ushered backstage, where her picture was taken with Copperfield and she was asked her to fill out a questionnaire. Copperfield's assistant explained that Copperfield owned a private island and a resort, and often had "promotional work" for models to appear in brochures he produced.
Copperfield called her seven months later and invited her to attend a "promotional opportunity" on the island. The woman's complaint says she was told there would be other guests on the island, and that she couldn't bring her boyfriend because there wouldn't be room for him.
When she arrived on the island—which was reachable only by private boat—Copperfield greeted her by confiscating her passport, according to the complaint:
Isn't that how Dracula began? Then Dr. Copperfield's Terror Island got downright awful:
After the alleged rape, the accuser says she returned to her room and tried to call her boyfriend, but couldn't get cell coverage. When she tried to use the landline, Copperfield walked into her room holding a cordless phone to her ear and stared at her, leading her to believe he'd been listening in on the call.
The next morning, the complaint says, she walked to the beach to try to find a way off the island, but Copperfield tracked her down:
After that alleged assault, the woman says she went to take a shower, and Copperfield came after her again:
All in all, the victim says, she spent three days and two nights trapped with Copperfield on the island. When she returned to Seattle, the complaint says, she went "directly" to the sexual trauma center at Harborview Hospital and filed a complaint with the Seattle Police Department. The Seattle cops called in the FBI because the alleged rapes took place outside the U.S., and the Seattle Times says the U.S. Attorney's office is deciding whether to file criminal charges against Copperfield.
For his part, the illusionist has released a statement through his attorneys calling the victim a liar and saying that while on the island, "she sun-tanned in her bikini listening to her IPod, jet-skied with island visitors, had playful conversations with guests, and swam on island beaches, day after day."
This woman, who filed the lawsuit, has a history of lying. She has lied to law enforcement before and, as a result, had innocent people arrested based on a false accusation. She bragged to one of her closest friends that she could make up allegations against a guy to "take a guy down" if she wanted to. She said this before she even met Mr. Copperfield. Witness after witness who know her personally say she is incapable of telling the truth.
The notion that this woman was trapped on the island is absurd. There are telephones everywhere throughout the island that allow guests to call anyone in the world, including "911." There is cellular phone coverage and even internet access on the island. She had access to jet skis and boats that she could have taken to the neighboring inhabited islands that are minutes away and not owned by Mr. Copperfield. 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.
You can read the whole complaint here. While it names both Copperfield—under his real name, David Kotkin—and his assistant Jennifer Dillon, the accuser's attorneys have subsequently asked the court to remove Dillon as a defendant.
We've redacted the accuser's name because there's still an open criminal investigation into her claims and not naming alleged victims of sexual crimes is the decent thing to do. We generally aren't squeamish about naming the plaintiffs in lawsuits since filing a lawsuit is pretty much the definition of willingly going public with an accusation. But, as we understand the situation, this suit was only filed now because a two-year statute of limitations applied to her claims, and she needed to file by July 29 to preserve her rights to any damages. So we're treating this as we would a criminal case and not naming her.