Former Dave Matthews Band violinist Boyd Tinsley has been sued for sexual harassment by musician James Frost-Winn. Tinsley recruited the trumpeter for the band the violinist assembled called Crystal Garden.
The suit, obtained by Rolling Stone, claims that Tinsley "discovered" Winn in 2007 when he was 18 years old and playing as a street musician in San Francisco. The duo formed a friendship and in 2009, Tinsley gave Winn backstage passes to San Francisco music festival Outside Lands. In 2011, according to the suit, Tinsley provided Frost-Winn VIP campground tickets to DMB Caravan, where they hung out. The suit outlines several encounters in the years that followed, which included invites to other out-of-town shows where the trips and hotels were financed by Tinsley.
Beginning in 2015, Frost-Winn claims that Tinsley began to repeatedly sexually harass him. Over the course of Frost-Winn's tenure with Crystal Garden, the trumpeter left more than once due to the alleged sexual harassment, "the first time being in Nov. 2015 when Defendant Tinsley ejaculated next to Plaintiff Winn and touched Winn's buttocks while Plaintiff Winn was sleeping." According to the suit, Winn was repeatedly told by Tinsley that he "could not leave the band" as it was "James' band."
According to the suit, following the November 2015 incident, Tinsley texted that he had "messed up," was "confused on pills" and that it would never happen again. The suit includes a series of sexually charged texts allegedly sent by Tinsley to Frost-Winn in 2016, where Tinsley allegedly discusses masturbating to photos and requests for specific shots to be taken for sexual purposes. Frost-Winn left the band in August 2016.
"We are hopeful that the defendant acknowledges responsibility, seeks to take advantage of the resources available to him that might allow him to break out of his pattern behavior and makes some reasonable amends for his actions," Frost-Winn's attorney, Jason Hatch, tells Rolling Stone.
Tinsley's attorney did not immediately reply to a request for comment. When reached for comment, a rep for Dave Matthews Band told Rolling Stone, “Though Boyd is no longer a member of the band, we are shocked by these disturbing allegations and we were not previously aware of them.”
The suit claims it was a "huge decision" for Frost-Winn to depart the band, stating, "He felt that if he had stayed, he would be living in shame. Plaintiff Winn felt there was no honor in simply staying for the money and the lifestyle he had lived through Defendant Tinsley – he knew it would not have felt right to continue living a lie – knowing that Defendant Tinsley had sexually preyed on him, lied to him, and would continue doing so."
Winn is seeking damages "for loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, and humiliation in an amount proven at trial," alongside additional compensation for back pay and loss of future earning potential, according to the complaint.
In February, Tinsley, who
had been a member of Dave Matthews' Band since 1992, announced he was
"taking a break" from DMB and touring. "I need to take a break from the band & touring 2 focus on my family & my health 4 a while," he tweeted. "I will miss you guys & my brothers in the band but I’m somewhat worn out & need 2 spend more time with my family & 2 bring more balance to my life."
Prior to the February announcement, Tinsley said that he had been "wrestling with a decision." "Before I talk about me I hope that all are well and sending extra love to those who are in need," he added.
Matthews obliquely addressed Tinsley's absence in an interview with Vulture earlier this month. "I have a deep love for Boyd, and he has to deal with his stuff," Matthews said. "In many ways I’m sure it would’ve been a lot easier for him to just say, 'I’m good. Let’s go play.' But you can’t just throw yourself away, your wellness away, because you play violin in a band.
"I can’t say, 'I can’t wait till he comes back,' because I don’t know what’s going to happen," he added. "But right now being away is better for him. Nobody is happy about this situation. Except that we’re happy he can figure some stuff out. I hope he does. But I’m going to miss having that whirling-dervish Adonis-Muppet over there on my right. I know the audience is, too. But we can’t serve that desire."