the law

Bob Dylan Sued for Allegedly Sexually Abusing a Minor in 1965

Dylan in May 1965. Photo: Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns

Bob Dylan sexually abused a 12-year-old girl at his Chelsea Hotel apartment in 1965 when he was around 24 years old, a new lawsuit alleges. The Manhattan Supreme Court civil complaint, filed Friday night by a woman identified in court papers as J.C., claims that she was “a victim of one or more criminal sex acts.”

“Between April and May of 1965 the defendant, Dylan, exploited 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.,” the lawsuit alleges. Court papers further claim that Dylan used his fame to “provide J.C. with alcohol and drugs, and sexually abused her multiple times.”

The suit also alleges that Dylan “befriended and established an emotional connection with the plaintiff, J.C., to lower her inhibitions with the object of sexually abusing her.” In addition to the alleged grooming, alcohol, and drugs, she claims there were “threats of physical violence.” J.C. was left “emotionally scarred and psychologically damaged to this day,” court papers state.

Dylan, now 80, has denied the allegations. “The 56-year-old claim is untrue and will be vigorously defended,” a spokesman for Dylan said in a statement.

J.C. has suffered “physical and psychological injuries, including but not limited to, 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” because of this abuse, the lawsuit claims.

The suit says that “some or all of these injuries are of a permanent and lasting nature,” requiring money for treatment.  J.C.’s lawsuit alleges that Dylan committed assault, battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. J.C., who is represented by Daniel W. Isaacs and Peter J. Gleason, is seeking unspecified damages.

“The complaint speaks for itself,” Isaacs told Vulture. “We shall prove our allegations in a court of law.”

Although J.C.’s claims involve alleged abuse taking place nearly 60 years ago, she was able to file suit against Dylan under New York state’s Child Victims Act. The legislation, which was passed in 2019, provided a one-year window where victims of childhood sexual abuse could file suit against their attacker — regardless of when the abuse took place.

This window was extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline to file suits under this act closed at midnight Friday.

Bob Dylan Sued for Allegedly Sexually Abusing Minor in 1965