A Seattle woman has filed a lawsuit against David Copperfield, alleging that the multi-millionaire magician assaulted and threatened her on his private island in the Bahamas – though the illusionist is dismissing her claims as an attempt at “extortion for money, plain and simple.”
The woman, a 22-year-old fashion model and former Miss Washington USA contestant, says in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle on July 29 – the deadline for a two-year statute of limitations – that she met Copperfield, now 52, at a performance in Kennewick in January 2007, the Seattle Times reports. That summer, she says she was invited to the island, where the alleged sexual assault took place.
Among her claims, according to news reports on her filing, the woman says that “Copperfield attacked and sexually assaulted her” and “threatened to kill her,” despite her attempts to fight him off, which left her “extremely traumatized.”
No criminal charges related to the alleged incident have been brought, though the U.S. Attorney’s Office reportedly has them under consideration.
On Wednesday, Copperfield, through his attorneys Angelo Calfo and Patty Eakes, issued to news outlets, including PEOPLE, a lengthy and detailed response to the lawsuit, titled, “Copperfield Sets the Record Straight.” His accuser, Copperfield maintains in his statement, “has a history of lying … which continues in this lawsuit.”
Copperfield goes on to say: “The facts are that there were more than 20 women and men on the island during her visit. The allegation that there was no one on the island to help her – even if she needed help – is preposterous.”
The woman’s lawyer, Rebecca Roe of Seattle, told the Times she was not able to discuss the case.
In 2007, the FBI investigated Copperfield (real name: David Seth Kotkin) after a claim of sexual misconduct was filed. At the time, a lawyer for the magician confirmed the investigation, but added, “If in fact those are the allegations, unfortunately false allegations are all too often made against famous individuals. But we are confident the investigation will conclude favorably.”
• 2007: FBI investigates Copperfield and raids his magic museum
• 1995: Copperfield nabs supermodel Claudia Schiffer!
• PEOPLE Covers: Celebrity criminal cases