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David Copperfield’s Abra Cadabra — The Magic of Jurisdiction!

Posted on Oct 28, 2007 in Courts, Local Issues

A model based out of Seattle, Washington, is claiming that magician David Copperfield flew her to his private $50-million island estate in the Bahamas, and at some point during this magical getaway, she was raped. Upon returning to Washington State, she reported this incident to local and state authorities, who refused the case because of geography (a lack of jurisdiction). Now, apparently, a federal grand jury is investigating criminal charges against David Copperfield based upon a FBI argument that there is federal jurisdiction. But is David Copperfield immune from any American charges?  Maybe. The FBI’s argument is purportedly based upon the model leaving the USA at Mr. Copperfield’s invitation, and then returning to the USA thereafter. However, if any alleged wrongdoing did not occur on American soil, then what may or may not have occurred on Copperfield Island may be a “crime” only if the law of the land declares it to be so.  Gambling isn’t illegal in Monaco or Vegas, for example, because the law says otherwise. What law applies to Mr. Copperfield’s island estate? Bahamian law. The law of the Bahamas defines what “sexual assault” or “rape” is within its borders, and what evidence is needed to prove that it occurred.  Maybe it’s the same as in the United States, maybe it’s not. Has any complaint been filed with this authority? No. According to the alleged victim, she did not make a report to the local authorities, nor did she have a rape kit test taken there. Not only is there a choice of law question here, but there’s a real proof issue: evidence should be collected within 72 hours of an attack, or a sexual assault examination (“rape kit”) is of little value: the evidence is gone. Why are we still not hearing about this woman pressing charges with the Bahamian authorities? �

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