After denouncing the sex abuse lawsuit filed against Bob Dylan last year as “ludicrous” and a “brazen shakedown,” lawyers for the 81-year-old singer-songwriter are questioning the timing behind his accuser’s decision to fire her two lawyers this week amid key discovery deadlines.
The woman’s lawyers announced their surprise dismissal in a letter Tuesday addressed to a federal judge in Manhattan, prompting Dylan’s lawyers to request an emergency hearing. On Thursday, the judge ordered both sides to appear in person on July 28 to discuss the development.
“The timing of counsel’s letter, coming on the heels of last Friday’s conference, is concerning because it appears designed to evade court-ordered document production obligations and the threat of sanctions,” Dylan’s lawyer Orin Snyder wrote to U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla on Wednesday.
It was last week that Judge Polk Failla ordered the accuser, identified only as J.C. in her pleadings, to produce all non-privileged documents responsive to Dylan’s first set of discovery requests no later than July 22. The accuser also was ordered to respond to Dylan’s second set of requests by Aug. 15.
Snyder said beyond document discovery, live depositions of “key witnesses” had been scheduled to take place on four dates between July 22 and August 4. He said other “potential concerns” beyond discovery deadlines included questions about whether the fired attorneys owed a duty to the court to comment on what happened and their thoughts about the underlying complaint.
Reached by phone Thursday evening, Daniel Isaacs, one of the “discharged” lawyers, declined to comment. “Everything I say, I say in the courtroom,” Isaacs said.
The plaintiff filed her sex abuse lawsuit in New York state court last summer. It was later transferred to federal court. According to the complaint, Dylan “exploited” his status as a famous musician to gain the plaintiff’s trust, then he plied her with alcohol and drugs, and sexually abused her between April and May of 1965 at the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan when she was just 12 years old.
After Dylan historians and supporters argued the musician wasn’t even in New York during the timeframe first outlined in the complaint, making the woman’s claims “chronologically impossible,” the accuser filed an amended complaint changing the time period to “the spring” of the same year.
In a January response filing, Dylan’s lawyers blasted the allegations as coming from a “psychic” who once stated she had been “abducted by aliens and piloted their spaceship.”
“This case — based on plaintiff’s alleged interactions with Bob Dylan more than 56 years ago — is a brazen shakedown masquerading as a lawsuit. It was filed in bad faith for the improper purpose of extracting a huge payout on the threat of negative publicity. The allegation is false, malicious, reckless, and defamatory. Mr. Dylan will not be extorted,” the lawyers wrote.
“Neither my client nor her counsel are going to be bullied,” Peter J. Gleason, the other lawyer for the plaintiff, told Rolling Stone in January while defending his client’s work as a professional psychic who purportedly talks to dead people as well as animals.
“Some people refer to Bob Dylan as a prophet. People have labels. More than half of Americans believe in psychic phenomena. If you’re going to attack somebody for their beliefs, you’re encroaching upon very dangerous territory,” Gleason said at the time. “This is what this country is based on, freedom of beliefs. It shouldn’t divert our attention from the allegations. This case is about the facts.”
Dylan’s made it clear in filings that the “Blowin’ in the Wind” singer and 10-time Grammy winner had no interest in paying a nuisance settlement to make the case go away.
“Mr. Dylan may have seemed like an easy mark for the lawyers who filed and hoped to profit off of this fraudulent lawsuit. They likely assumed he would not be up for the fight and would instead pay extortion to avoid the burden, publicity, and expense of defending himself. They could not have been more wrong. Mr. Dylan seeks and will achieve justice, vindication and full accountability,” one of his filing states.