An unnamed woman who claimed Bob Dylan sexually abused her as a child in 1965 has withdrawn her lawsuit permanently, a day after Dylan’s attorneys accused her of destroying key evidence and “irretrievably” compromising the integrity of the case.
In a lawsuit filed last year, the woman alleged that Dylan abused her over a six-week period in 1965, leaving her “emotionally scarred and psychologically damaged.” The artist’s lawyers quickly called the case “false, malicious, reckless and defamatory” and a “brazen shakedown masquerading as a lawsuit.”
But at a hearing on Thursday (July 28), the plaintiff – identified only as J.C. – suddenly asked the federal judge overseeing the case to dismiss it “with prejudice,” meaning it will be permanently closed and cannot be refiled. The move came after she was accused of deleting key messages and threatened with monetary sanctions.
“This case is over. It is outrageous that it was ever brought in the first place,” said Dylan’s lead attorney Orin Snyder of the law firm Gibson Dunn, in a statement to Billboard. “We are pleased that the plaintiff has dropped this lawyer-driven sham and that the case has been dismissed with prejudice.”
J.C.’s attorneys did not immediately return a request for comment.
The unnamed woman claimed that Dylan had sexually abused her multiple times at Manhattan’s Chelsea Hotel in April and May 1965. She said he provided her with drugs and alcohol and “exploited” his status as a musician as part of a plan to “sexually molest her.” Such allegations would typically be barred by the statute of limitations, but the case against Dylan was filed just before the closing of a one-year window under a recent New York statute that allowed past victims to sue their alleged abusers.
Rock historians and Dylan experts quickly cast doubt on the allegations, saying they seemed to be refuted by historical documentation that showed that Dylan was away from New York City for most of April and May 1965. The accuser later filed an updated version of the lawsuit, claiming the abuse instead came during “several months in the spring of 1965.”
Thursday’s abrupt dismissal came amid increasing chaos in the case, including stern warnings from a judge about potential sanctions, the sudden departure of the accuser’s attorneys, and, this week, bombshell accusations from Dylan’s camp that she had deleted key text messages and emails.
At a July 15 hearing, Judge Katherine Polk Failla said that Dylan’s attorney Snyder had alerted her that the accuser had failed to turn over emails and text messages by a court-ordered deadline. According to a report by Law360, she warned the accuser’s attorneys that they might face serious sanctions if they did not comply soon: “For the love of god, produce these materials,” the judge told the accuser’s lawyers. “You understand the consequences if you don’t.”
Days later, the accuser’s attorneys notified the judge that they had been fired from the case. The lawyers — Daniel W. Isaacs and Peter J. Gleason – said they had been “discharged by the plaintiff as her attorneys,” but did not include any explanation for their termination. Dylan’s attorneys quickly criticized the move, saying it appeared to be “designed to evade court-ordered document production obligations and the threat of sanctions.”
Then on Wednesday, the plot thickened: Snyder and Dylan’s legal team sent a letter to Judge Polk advising her that the accuser had still not produced “dozens of critical emails we know exist,” even after the threat of sanctions. They said that included key messages in which she was discussing and “casting doubt” about the core allegations in the lawsuit.
Even more serious than a blown deadline, Snyder told the judge the messages in question had been likely been destroyed by the accuser – a massive breach of the rules of litigation in any case.
Dylan’s attorneys told the judge that the evidence “strongly suggests Plaintiff has destroyed evidence directly relevant to the central factual allegations in this litigation, and that the evidence may be lost forever. This would mean Plaintiff will never be able to comply with her discovery obligations and the integrity of these proceedings and Defendant’s ability to mount a fair defense have been compromised irretrievably.”
The letter asked for “case-ending sanctions and monetary sanctions,” and said the issue would be addressed at a hearing on Thursday.