Magician David Copperfield gets day in court

UPDATE:  April 20, 2010 –  Lacey Carroll, David Copperfield’s accuser, has dropped her lawsuit.  Reasons not provided.

A 2011 trial date has been set in the lawsuit against magician David Copperfield, a frequent MGM Grand entertainer in Las Vegas, and throughout the world as well.

A federal judge has set a May 2011 trial date for a civil lawsuit filed by a model who claims she was raped by celebrity magician David Copperfield on his private Caribbean island in 2007. 

U.S. District Judge John Coughenour lifted a stay that has held up the lawsuit pending the outcome of a two-year federal criminal investigation, which ended in January without charges being filed. 

Coughenour also rejected a motion by the lawyers for Lacey Carroll, the 23-year-old 2010 Miss Washington runner-up, seeking a court order to prevent the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office from returning evidence gathered in the criminal case to Copperfield. They argued that the material was relevant to the lawsuit and worried that Copperfield, one of the wealthiest entertainers in the world, would remove the material to his island or destroy it. 

The judge said there was no evidence that would happen, and pointed out that Carroll’s attorneys can still obtain the material through the normal discovery process. Coughenour said Copperfield knows that Carroll wants to review the evidence — some of it seized in FBI searches of his Las Vegas warehouse and MGM Grand Hotel theater in 2007 — and is obliged to preserve it.

Coughenour also noted that nothing is stopping Carroll from subpoenaing the evidence from the prosecutor, although that move could be challenged either by Copperfield or the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

The lawsuit was filed last July, just before the expiration of a two-year statute of limitations. 

Carroll had claimed that she met Copperfield at a performance in the Tri-Cities area and that the 53-year-old entertainer invited her to his $50 million private island, where she claims he raped her. 

The case took a twist when Carroll was charged in January with prostitution and lying to police. She is accused of trying to solicit a 31-year-old Bellevue businessman for $2,000 for sex, after going with him to a hotel room. 

When he refused, according to a police investigation, Carroll told staff at the hotel that the man had assaulted her. Carroll and the man each called police. 

She later refused to cooperate with the investigation, telling detectives she was worried that the Bellevue incident might affect her lawsuit and the Copperfield investigation. 

Carroll has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

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