To Be Clear, Bob Dylan’s 1965 Tour Dates Alone Won’t Exonerate Him

The singer is accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl in April and May of 1965

Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan performing at BBC TV Centre, London, 1st June 1965.

Earlier this week, music fans were stunned by a disturbing allegation made against Bob Dylan. A lawsuit filed by an anonymous woman referred to only as “J.C.” in the court documents claims that the legendary singer-songwriter groomed her and sexually abused her in New York City’s Chelsea Hotel in 1965, when she was just 12 years old.

Dylan denied the claim through a representative, who insisted that “the 56-year-old claim is untrue and will be vigorously defended,” and given that he’s a massively popular musician whose 1960s performances and whereabouts have been extensively documented and studied for decades now, it should be pretty easy to determine his alibi if he has one. Naturally, plenty of Dylan scholars have been scrambling on social media this week to dig up his 1965 tour schedule and present it as evidence that he wasn’t possibly in New York when the alleged abuse took place.

One of those scholars who insist the musician’s schedule proves his innocence is biographer Clinton Heylin, who has written multiple books about him. “It’s not possible,” Heylin said. “Dylan was touring England during that time, and was in Los Angeles for two of those weeks, plus a day or two at Woodstock. The tour was 10 days, but Bob flew into London on April 26 and arrived back in New York on June 3. If Dylan was in New York in mid-April, it was for no more than a day or two. Woodstock was where he spent most of his time when not touring. And if he was in NYC, he invariably stayed at his manager’s apartment in Gramercy, not the Chelsea.”

JC’s lawyer Daniel Isaacs responded to Heylin’s claims by doubling down on his client’s initial timeframe. “Looking at the [tour] schedule — it’s not inconsistent with our client’s claims,” he told Page Six. “There are dates that he wasn’t touring for several weeks in April and this will all come out at that appropriate time. The claims were vetted before the case was filed and we did our research. It’s our position that the evidence will establish that he was in New York during the relevant time period.”

Ultimately, evidence is what it’s going to have to come down to here. Even if Dylan was only in New York for “no more than a day or two,” that’s plenty of time for him to have assaulted J.C. And even if it turns out he wasn’t in New York at all during April and May of 1965, it’s always possible that she’s simply misremembering the timeframe and the alleged abuse actually happened at a different point in time. These tour dates alone won’t exonerate Dylan; there are too many gaps when he could have traveled to New York and committed the crime he’s accused of. It’s natural to hope that a musician as beloved as Dylan isn’t capable of something as horrific as sexual abuse of a minor, but it’s too early to make any kind of kneejerk judgements about it either way.

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