A new lawsuit alleging that Bob Dylan sexually abused a 12-year-old girl in 1965 has come under scrutiny, as the purported timeline of the assaults doesn’t line up with public records of Dylan’s movements.
The plaintiff, a now-68-year-old woman identified in court documents as J.C., claims that “Bob Dylan, over a six-week period between April and May of 1965 befriended and established an emotional connection with the plaintiff,” shortly after she turned 12. He allegedly used this connection to “lower [J.C.’s] inhibitions with the object of sexually abusing her, which he did, coupled with the provision of drugs, alcohol and threats of physical violence, leaving her emotionally scarred and psychologically damaged to this day.”
The abuse allegedly took place at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. As we pointed out in our initial coverage of the lawsuit, any “six-week period between April and May of 1965” would overlap with several tour dates, many on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. But there were also a few days between shows where a very determined person might have flown back to New York. However, as it turns out, many of Dylan’s off-days are also accounted for, casting doubt on J.C.’s story that he groomed and abused her in NYC during that period.
From January of 1965 through April 24th, Dylan toured North America. He spent most of April along the west coast, with shows in Berkeley (April 3rd), Vancouver (April 9th), Portland (April 23rd), and Seattle (April 24th). By April 26th, he was in London. That does leave gaps of five days and 13 days, but according to his biographer Clinton Heylin, the singer-songwriter “was in Los Angeles for two of those weeks, plus a day or two at Woodstock,” in upstate New York.
Even if you consider April as less than settled, it’s hard to see how anything could have happened between J.C. and Dylan in May. “Bob flew into London on April 26 and arrived back in New York on June 3,” Heylin said. Some historians seem to disagree, arguing that Dylan returned to New York somewhat later. But he had definitely landed by June 15th, when he began recording Highway 61 Revisited.
Dylan played eight shows in England between April 30th and May 10th, and on May 12th he appeared at Levy’s Recording Studio in London. Throughout, he conducted loads of interviews and was a constant subject of newspaper articles. He was also being followed by a documentary crew for what would become D.A. Pennebaker’s classic film Don’t Look Back, and he was accompanied by his future wife, Sarah Lownds, who was pregnant with their son, Jesse. Even Dylan’s down-time in Europe is well-documented, including a brief vacation to Portugal that left him with an undisclosed illness requiring hospitalization on May 24th. On June 1st, he concluded the trip with one final set at the BBC Studios in London.
It is conceivable that after 56 years, J.C. confused her dates, and the alleged abuse actually took place during some other months or year. But that is unlikely to help her win the lawsuit. And while the purported sexual assaults at the Chelsea Hotel are improbable for April, J.C.’s allegations for May are verging on impossible.
In response to concerns about the timeline, J.C.’s attorney, Peter Gleason, said, “We stand by the pleading.” Perhaps he plans to present new evidence that will change the way we view the chronology. As for Dylan, a spokesperson told Consequence, “The 56-year-old claim is untrue and will be vigorously defended.”