[Note: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault.]
Grammy, Academy Award, and Pulitzer Prize-winning singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has been sued by a woman for allegedly sexually abusing her when she was 12 years old in 1965. Dylan has denied the allegations.
According to the lawsuit, the alleged abuse took place between April and May 1965 at Dylan’s apartment at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. The plaintiff, identified only as J.C., accuses Dylan of exploiting “his status as a musician by grooming J.C. to gain her trust and to obtain control over her as part of his plan to sexually molest and abuse J.C.” Additionally, the suit states that he provided “J.C. with alcohol and drugs, and sexually abused her multiple times.” Per Vulture, the suit says that the Blonde On Blonde musician “befriended and established an emotional connection with the plaintiff to lower her inhibitions with the object of sexually abusing her.” Dylan also stands accused of making violent threats toward J.C., who claims to be “emotionally scarred and psychologically damaged to this day.”
The suit explains the emotional and physical toll of the attacks. Over the last 55 years, the lawsuit claims, J.C. endured “severe emotional and psychological distress, humiliation, fright, disassociation, anger, depression, anxiety, personal turmoil and loss of faith, a severe shock to her nervous system, physical pain and mental anguish, and emotional and psychological damage.” She seeks unspecified damages in the suit.
Dylan has denied the allegations, saying in a statement, “The 56-year-old claim is untrue and will be vigorously defended.”
Though the alleged attack happened more than five decades prior, New York state’s Child Victims Act allowed J.C. to sue. Passed in 2019, the Child Victims Act removed the statute of limitations on cases related to childhood sexual abuse, allowing survivors to file suit within a one-year window of when the legislation passed. The state of New York later extended that window due to the pandemic.
UPDATE [8/17/2021]: Dylan has denied the allegations. A spokesperson for the musician told multiple publications, “the 56-year-old claim is untrue and will be vigorously defended.” A Dylan chronology book called A Life in Stolen Moments written by Clinton Heylin shows that Dylan was in the middle of a well-documented tour in the UK at the time of the alleged abuse. However, those dates don’t mean that the lawsuit or the allegations will be automatically dismissed as the tour also included a few breaks from April 1965- June 1965.