UPDATED with details of a new sexual assault allegation, 8:48 AM: Magician David Copperfield issued a statement Wednesday afternoon offering support for the #MeToo movement but warning against rushing to judgment about allegations of sexual misconduct.
Shortly thereafter, the other shoe dropped: The Wrap reported a decades-old allegation of sexual assault against one of the nation’s most prominent illusionists. The model, Brittney Lewis, then 17, told the publication that she had been drugged and sexually assaulted by Copperfield in 1988.
Lewis said she met Copperfield at a modeling contest in Japan in September 1988 and he invited her to one of his upcoming shows in California. Copperfield, who was 32 at the time, introduced her to his team, flattered her and, after the show, invited her to a bar. She said she witnessed him pouring something into her glass and blacking out. Later, she alleges, he entered her hotel room, removed her clothes and performed sex acts.
The Wrap said it corroborated the woman’s account with her grandmother, best friend from high school, husband and ex-husband. Lewis told the publication she reported the incident to the FBI in 2007 and is not seeking money.
A spokesperson said Copperfield had no comment regarding The Wrap’s report.
In a statement posted to social media, Copperfield said his life had been “turned upside down” years ago by an accuser who subsequently was arrested for making false sexual assault allegations against another man. That accuser, former beauty queen Lacey Carroll, accused Copperfield of imprisoning and assaulting her at his Bahamas home.
After a lengthy investigation, no charges were filed against Copperfield.
“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,” Copperfield writes. “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.”
Copperfield appears to be hinting at another allegation in his statement, noting, “So while I weather another storm, I want the movement to continue to flourish.”
The statement is part of an emerging trend in Hollywood, in which men accused of sexual assault or misconduct race to articulate their side of a story prior to publication of a potentially damaging account.
Here’s Copperfield’s full statement, published on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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.