Magician David Copperfield accused of sexual misconduct by 16 women

Magician David Copperfield pictured in October 2023  (Getty Images)
Magician David Copperfield pictured in October 2023 (Getty Images)

Magician David Copperfield is facing accusations of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour from 16 women, according to reports.

Over half of the alleged offences happened when the victims were under the age of 18, found an investigation by the Guardian US. Some were potentially as young as 15 at the time of the alleged misconduct, the Guardian said, with the magician sending some underage girls notes, gifts and balloons.

The 67-year-old has denied the allegations against him, which stretch from the late 1980s to 2014, and is considering legal action, a representative told The Independent.

Some of the alleged abuse included drugging three women before having sexual relations with them, which they said they did not feel able to consent to.

“I … would never just say this to somebody if I didn’t truly, honest to God believe that I was drugged at that time,” one victim told the Guardian. She said that she agreed to meet Copperfield for a drink in 1993 after one of his shows.

Another alleged victim said that she met the magician at one of his shows when she was 15. He approached her and her mother in the parking lot after she appeared on stage with him at a show in Savannah, Georgia.

He took her phone number, she said, and handed her a business card with a promise that he would take her to dinner when she turned 18. At one point, the woman said, he sent her a note promising he would “be back in 2 years”. The magician often called her home and her mother would have to wake her up to chat to him.

After she turned 18, the woman said Mr Copperfield had penetrative sex with her. It was her first time, she said.

“I was a young schoolgirl infatuated with a man who was famous and I think he used that to benefit him,” she told The Guardian. “Why would he continue to reach out to me through those years if he wasn’t planning on pouncing as soon as I turned 18?”

In four cases, women said the magician groped them or made them touch him in a sexual manner during live performances on stage.

David Copperfield at the Keep Memory Alive foundation's
David Copperfield at the Keep Memory Alive foundation's "Power of Love Gala" celebrating Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena February 18, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Getty Images)

The magician’s attorneys told The Guardian that the claims were “not only completely false but also entirely implausible”.

The Guardian said it had interviewed over 100 people as part of its investigation, while also examining police and court records.

The magician reportedly told some of the alleged victims that he could further their modelling or entertainment careers and tried to stay in touch with them and their parents after the incidents.

Former employees of Mr Copperfield also spoke to The Guardian, explaining how he asked them to approach young women he wanted to meet.

“There were always women coming and going,” one former assistant said. “I never saw anybody come in that was unwilling to come but I felt the power dynamic just seemed very wrong. Like these were very young women.”

Another, who worked for Mr Copperfield in the 2000s, explained that she started to intervene in situations where she felt the girls may have been underage.

Some of the alleged abuse happened at the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas, where Mr Copperfield has been a frequent performer for many years. The Independent has approached MGM for comment.

One alleged victim said she reported him squeezing her breast while on stage in January 2014, but alleged her claim was never taken seriously. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department told the Guardian that it closed the case because of “insufficient evidence”.

Some of David Copperfield’s alleged abuse happened at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he has frequently performed (Getty Images)
Some of David Copperfield’s alleged abuse happened at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he has frequently performed (Getty Images)

Mr Copperfield was mentioned six times in documents related to the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, which were made public in January.

In a deposition, Johanna Sjoberg — a former international swimmer who claimed Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, touched her breast in 2001 at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse — stated that Mr Copperfield had dinner with the disgraced financier in a 2016 deposition among documents released earlier this year.

Ms Sjoberg said Mr Copperfield did magic tricks before asking if she was aware “that girls were getting paid to find other girls.”

One of the key allegations against Epstein and his ex-partner, convicted sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell, was that some of the girls he paid for sex acts then acted as recruiters to find him other victims. Ms Sjoberg said Mr Copperfield didn’t get more specific about what he meant.

Mr Copperfield’s relationship with Epstein has been previously reported, including in a 2019 article from The New York Times, which described the role of Maxwell in acquiring young girls for the disgraced financier.

Speaking to The Guardian, Mr Copperfield’s lawyers said Epstein was not someone their client frequently socialised with.

“Our client did not know about Epstein’s horrific crimes,” his lawyers said. “Like the rest of the world, he learned about it from the press.”

In a statement emailed to The Independent, a representative of David Copperfield said: “Everyone that knows David Copperfield will tell you that these recent allegations from one newspaper are the exact opposite of who David is. In fact, David has a record of risking his career to help protect women from powerful predators. Most of these historic accusations have been made before, and all of them are as false now as they were then.

“David requested the “evidence” upon which these false allegations claim to rely and this has not been provided. By contrast, whenever US law enforcement has looked into such matters, they have been investigated thoroughly and it has been found that there is simply no case to answer. The Guardian’s characterization is not who David is, and he continues to support anyone who has experienced any form of abuse or discrimination. The movement must succeed, but false accusations must stop for it to flourish.

“David will be considering the position with his legal team and will take such steps as may be appropriate over these false and scurrilous allegations.”

The Independent has also contacted Copperfield’s attorney, Elaine Fresch, who represented him in a 2018 case involving injuries at one of his shows, for comment.

This article has been updated to include a statement from David Copperfield’s representative