Police are investigating the alleged rape of a 22-year-old woman in the bathroom of a house being used to film MTV’s “The Real World,” officials said Tuesday.
The woman told police she believes that a man she met at a nearby nightspot slipped a drug into her drink, took her to the house and raped her, possibly while the assault was filmed.
Armed with a search warrant five days after the alleged attack, police seized numerous videotapes, DVDs, pornographic magazines and business cards, as well as bedding, a computer, a set of brass knuckles and trash from wastebaskets, according to court documents.
One cast member remembered the woman as being “disoriented and having difficulty speaking” when she staggered out of a bathroom, according to the search warrant. Another cast member said she saw the woman naked. Another told police that the woman’s alleged attacker boasted, “I just hit that.”
A rape examination of the woman showed indications of sex as well as abrasions and lacerations, the search warrant says.
San Diego County district attorney’s investigators also seized tapes from the offices of Bunim-Murray Productions in Van Nuys, the show’s producer.
One of several reality shows on television, “The Real World” features young, attractive people living and working together as cameras record their sometimes volatile and R-rated interactions. The San Diego episodes are to be broadcast in January as the show enters its 14th season.
So far, no tapes verifying the allegations about filming the rape have been uncovered, officials said. The Police Department has assigned a team of detectives to the case.
The woman and the suspect are not part of the show’s cast or crew, said Capt. David Ramirez of the department’s sex crimes unit.
Ramirez declined to say whether police have located the alleged rapist. According to the search warrant, the woman said the man was named Justin and claimed to be a friend of a cast member.
“There’s a lot about this we don’t know yet,” Ramirez said. “There are parts of the woman’s account that we haven’t been able to confirm yet.”
The woman said she passed out at the nightspot on the night of Nov. 14 and awoke several hours later in one of the bathrooms of the house. The woman reported the incident to the police within hours, Ramirez said.
“The producers of ‘The Real World’ and the cast are cooperating fully with local authorities investigating an incident that may have occurred at ‘The Real World’ house,” Bunim-Murray said Tuesday in a prepared statement. “None of the cast or crew members had any involvement in this incident.”
The assertion of full cooperation was disputed by law enforcement officials.
“They lawyered up real fast,” the official said.
“The Real World” cast and crew members declined to allow police to search the house without a warrant and were not immediately candid about the location of all the tape shot by the 30-plus cameras in the house, an official said.
Also, soon after the house was searched Nov. 19, the cast and crew members went to Mexico for filming, making it difficult for police to contact them for follow-up interviews, the official said.
According to the search warrant, a San Diego police officer, while searching the house, received a phone call from a “Real World” attorney saying that “they would not turn over any documents or film until she personally reviewed them.”
Security guards kept reporters at bay Tuesday, prompting one television station to use a helicopter to get a glimpse of the three-story house on North Harbor Drive near Lindbergh Field. The blue structure was the home of a former restaurant called the Blue Crab.
Production of the San Diego episodes of “The Real World,” starring seven young people, several under the age of 21, has been underway since August.
Cameras are monitored 24 hours a days; if the interaction becomes intriguing, a cameraman with a hand-held camera is sent for close-ups.
Film crews also follow the cast members on outings into San Diego, particularly to beaches and restaurants.
As part of the show, cast members spend their days working to prepare the yacht Stars and Stripes, owned by onetime America’s Cup winner Dennis Conner, for competition.
The attack allegedly took place in one of two bathrooms that do not have cameras, according to the search warrant. A larger bathroom is equipped with a camera; the bathroom, according to the MTV Web site, has showers large enough for groups.
Anyone entering the house must sign a consent form, according to the search warrant. One item being sought by police is any consent form signed by the 22-year-old woman.
“Before they came here, we talked to other cities which had ‘The Real World,’ ” said Kimberly Hale of the San Diego Film Commission, which approved permits for the show. “We got nothing but positive comments.”
The investigation comes weeks after a “Real World” participant pleaded guilty to assaulting a Marine in a local bar. She awaits sentencing.