Judge Issues Stay in David Copperfield Sexual Assault Case

10/28/2009 at 11:50 AM EDT

Judge Issues Stay in David Copperfield Sexual Assault Case
David Copperfield
Frank Rumpenhorst/EPA
David Copperfield has won a six-month stay in a lawsuit filed in July by a former Miss Washington USA contestant, alleging that the multi-millionaire magician assaulted and threatened her on his private island in the Bahamas – claims that the illusionist dismissed as an attempt at "extortion for money, plain and simple."

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour stayed the case at the request of Copperfield so the U.S. attorney's office in Seattle can complete a criminal investigation into the charge, reports the Seattle Times. The plaintiff's attorney, Becky Roe, has agreed to the stay, saying her client has already waited two years.

Copperfield (real name: David Seth Kotkin), 52, said he was being placed in the untenable legal position of having to provide information in the civil case that could be used against him should there be criminal prosecution. Lawyers for the magician argued that their client might have to invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination in the civil case, the Times reports.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have said they are nearly finished with their investigation and would make a decision on whether to file criminal charges in the next six months.



Coughenour scheduled a status hearing for the case in March.

In 2007, the FBI investigated Copperfield 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."

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