Police raid 'Real World: San Diego' house after date-rape allegation
By Wade Paulsen, 11/26/2003
The real world met The Real World this month ... and the result isn't pretty.
On November 18, San Diego police were issued a search warrant to raid the house used by the cast of MTV's The Real World: San Diego in an effort to retrieve evidence regarding an alleged rape, after a lawyer for show producers Bunim-Murray Productions ("BMP") tried to limit police access to the site. The Smoking Gun has posted a copy of the transcript of the late-night telephonic request by the police for a search warrant (which began at approximately 1:35 AM on November 18) -- a transcript that casts BMP and MTV in an extremely poor light. The incident raises questions about whether MTV's parent, media behemoth Viacom, will want to continue to be involved with this show, considering its legal and public-relations nightmares.
The drama began on the night of November 14, 2003, when a 22-year-old woman went to a nightclub in downtown San Diego. According to her statement to police, she had already imbibed several mixed drinks when she met a man named Justin, who was not a cast member of The Real World: San Diego but was staying in the house with his friend Randy, who was a cast member. Justin gave the young woman a beverage ... and the next thing she remembered was waking up at 10:30 AM in the guest bedroom of the Real World house.
When she woke up, she was clothed and an MTV camera crew was filming her. Her vagina was sore, and a female cast member identified as Jamie Chung told her that she may have been sexually assaulted in the bathroom during the night. (For reasons of personal privacy, although MTV has cameras located throughout the Real World house that film 24/7, there are no cameras in the bathrooms.)
When police contacted Chung, she told them that she arrived home in the morning of November 15 and found the young woman lying on the bamboo couch in the living room. She asked the other people there what had happened. According to Chung, one of the people said that the young woman had been lying naked on the bathroom floor as Justin emerged, saying "I just hit that." That person had then moved the woman to the couch. Chung and another person then moved her to the downstairs guest bedroom.
Chung said that, when she (and the camera crew) woke the young woman up at 10:30, she appeared disoriented and had difficulty talking. With the woman's help, Chung contacted a male friend of hers and arranged for her transportation home. However, NO ONE from BMG, MTV or the Real World cast contacted the police, now or at any point thereafter, despite the strong evidence of a possible rape and the possible use of a "date-rape" drug by a house visitor.
The young woman finally reported the alleged crime to the police and went for medical testing the next day, November 16. The medical report documented several abrasions and lacerations to her vagina and anus. The police sexual assault unit began investigating the next day, November 17. But, hey ho, the Real World cast and crew had skipped off to Mexico, and all film from November 14th and 15th had been shipped from the house to the production headquarters in Los Angeles. Nothing suspicious about fleeing town after the alleged crime, right?
The police talked to Kevin Lee, the on-site producer of The Real World: San Diego. Lee claimed that he had not viewed the footage but that, after talking to several cast members, he believed the young woman might have been sexually assaulted, and he confirmed that Justin was resident in the house at the time of the alleged assault. Of course, none of this motivated him to look at the film or to use the on-site film-editing computer to review the incident, let alone contact the cops.
The police asked Lee for the consent forms and photo ID cards that listed who was in the house at the time of the incident, and he agreed to supply him with the forms and to allow the police to search the bathroom for evidence. He also gave the police a tour of the premises.
At the end of the tour, however, Lee received a phone call from Pam Naughton, an attorney representing BMP's "Real World Productions" arm. Naughton refused to permit the police to search the bedrooms and also stated that the producers would not turn over any documents or film until she personally reviewed them.
At that point, the police were left with no choice but to seek a search warrant. In the subsequent raid on the house, police hauled off the film-editing computer, the cast's e-mail computer, bedding, towels, videotapes and other possible evidence of the events of the evening in question.
E! Online reports that MTV and BMP both say that they "are cooperating fully" with the police and that "none of the cast or crew members had any involvement in the incident." Of course, to BMP and MTV, full cooperation apparently means not actively contesting the search warrant -- such little matters as reporting the incident or staying in the U.S. afterwards aren't necessary.
This is the second alleged crime linked to the rowdy bunch from The Real World: San Diego. Previously, cast member Robin Hibbard was busted for a bar brawl, in which she allegedly attacked a U.S. Marine on camera. We wonder whether BMP has considered the possibility that they might be prosecuted under RICO for running a criminal enterprise: the Real World: San Diego house.
Meanwhile, BMP's prior venture, The Simple Life, starring drug felon Nicole Richie and Internet porn star Paris Hilton, is ready to begin airing on Fox on December 2. Police departments around the U.S. may want to brace themselves.
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