On Wednesday, superstar magician David Copperfield issued a lengthy response to an accusation leveled at him by a former model, who claims that in 1988 when she was 17 years old, the performer drugged and assaulted her. While the #MeToo movement is "crucial and long overdue," said Copperfield, we must not "rush to judgment." Like he did with a past allegation that proved to be false, he said he would "weather another storm."
In a report published by TheWrap on Tuesday, former model Brittney Lewis alleges that after one of his shows in California in 1988, Copperfield, then 32, drugged her at a bar and assaulted her in a hotel room. Here's the key passage from the report:
After the show, Lewis said, Copperfield invited her to a bar. She said she had barely touched her drink when she noticed him pouring something into her glass.
“I asked, ‘What are you doing?’ and he said, ‘Oh, I’m just sharing,'” Lewis said.
She said she took a few sips after that and blacked out. The rest is hazy. She said she remembers bits and pieces of that night, mostly flashes of herself being carried out to a cab, and him inside her hotel room wearing a black robe with shoulder pads. She said she remembers him on top of her, kissing her, and his breath smelling bad. She said her room was connected to his by a door.
“I remember my clothes being taken off,” she said. “He was kissing my face and then I remember him starting to go down on my body with his face, and then, as soon as he started going down, I just completely blacked out.”
The next morning, she said, she woke up feeling sick and nauseated. Copperfield came in through the connecting door shortly after, she said.
“He wanted to me know that nothing happened because I was underage,” she said. “He said: ‘I didn’t enter you.'”
“There was no fluid but he could have had a condom,” she added.
TheWrap provides this screenshot of a video from a 1988 "Look of the Year" modeling contest, where Copperfield and Lewis first met:
TheWrap spoke with Lewis' "best friend from high school, husband, ex-husband, and grandmother — her primary caretaker at the time — all of whom said Lewis told them decades ago about her accusations against Copperfield." Lewis says she has no interest in pursuing a civil case, and legal experts say that even if she did, the statute of limitations expired years ago.
While TheWrap says Copperfield's lawyer, publicist and manager did not respond to requests for comment, on Wednesday, Copperfield posted a lengthy statement in which he praised the #MeToo movement but also cautioned against "rush[ing] to judgement." Referencing a past allegation leveled against him that proved to be false, Copperfield said he will "weather another storm":
The #MeToo movement is crucial and long overdue. We all want people who feel they've been victims of sexual misconduct to be empowered, and as a rule we should listen, so more will feel comfortable coming forward. It's important.
But imagine what it's like, believing in the movement, and having also been falsely accused publicly in the past.
To have your life and your family's life turned upside down. Three years and hundreds of stories reported on a false claim investigated by the FBI, where the end result was that the accuser was caught by law enforcement making the same false claim about another man. The proof was on tape. The accuser was arrested and charged.
I've lived with years of news reports about me being accused of fabricated, heinous acts, with few telling the story of the accuser getting arrested, and my innocence. Knowing that false accusers can negatively impact the believability of others and are a true disservice to those who have been victims of sexual misconduct, I didn't draw attention to it.
So while I weather another storm, I want the movement to continue to flourish.
Always listen, and consider everything carefully, but please for everyone's sake don't rush to judgment.