Yesterday, Digital Music News was first to report that attorneys for Bob Dylan were pursuing monetary sanctions following the dismissal of a “sham” sexual assault lawsuit against the 10-time Grammy winner. Now, a judge has officially ruled that the sanctions motion can proceed.
The complaint at the center of the dispute initiated in August of 2021 and was filed by a woman who accused Bob Dylan of sexually assaulting her nearly six decades ago, when she was 12 years old.
Dylan’s attorneys quickly fired back against the “false, malicious, reckless and defamatory” action, including by taking aim at the plaintiff’s character (she purportedly claimed to have “been abducted by aliens and piloted their spaceship”) and perceived lack of credibility.
The case ultimately unraveled about 11 months after it was first filed, for the plaintiff (whose name hasn’t been identified in public copies of the suit) dismissed it with prejudice last month. Prior to the sudden conclusion – in terms of the sexual assault allegations, that is – the plaintiff and her counsel failed to turn over pertinent documents by a July 22nd discovery deadline.
Moreover, the court had previously pushed the filing party and her legal team to comply with the discovery order; the alleged victim and her attorneys abruptly ended their professional relationship just days before the mentioned discovery deadline, though the precise reasons for the split remain unclear.
In any event, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers in a letter to the court expressed his opposition to the sanctions motion.
In this letter, which is dated August 8th, the author said that he and his associate had “attempted repeatedly to obtain the necessary documents from the plaintiff,” but likened the process to “pulling teeth.”
The unsuccessful pursuit of the documents culminated with a pair of visits to the plaintiff’s home on July 17th and 18th, when the attorneys say they learned from their (then) client – who is now a senior citizen, it bears reiterating – “that there [were] additional documents that we were unaware of and which she refused to turn over.”
The plaintiff’s one-time counsel likewise maintain that they had previously sifted through the defense’s discovery demands “item by item” with the alleged victim “so there was no mistake or misunderstanding.” Needless to say, the “plaintiff still did not provide the information requested.”
After further attempting to paint the plaintiff (who is ostensibly “suffering [from] PTSD, which was exacerbated when her identity was illegally made public”) as the primary cause of the discovery disaster, besides highlighting separate work obligations that are said to have distracted from the case in June, the legal professionals concluded their message by asking once more that the sanctions motion be denied.
In response to the request, the presiding judge indicated that “nothing in the above letter supports deviating from the briefing schedule” established just prior, as the court had evidently granted the request to submit a motion for discovery sanctions beforehand.
“To the contrary, Plaintiff’s former counsel’s above representations confirm the existence of the conflict described in the Court’s endorsement,” the judge wrote, noting also that the plaintiff “is invited, but not required, to submit her own opposition” to the future motion.
Lastly, driving home the inclusion of the plaintiff in the hunt for sanctions, the judge directed the attorneys to provide the alleged victim with “a copy of this endorsement.”
Additional updates in the high-stakes legal battle are forthcoming, but current evidence suggests that the episode could compel any other Bob Dylan accusers to think twice before formally making claims in court.