DJ and EDM star Bassnectar, who frequented the U.S.’s top music festivals before stepping back from his career last summer, has been accused in a new lawsuit of sexually abusing underage girls.
Two women, in a lawsuit filed Monday and obtained by USA TODAY, allege that 43-year-old Bassnectar, whose legal name is Lorin Ashton, used his platform as a famous musician to “groom and ultimately sexually victimize underage girls,” solicit their nude photos and subject them to sex trafficking while he was in his mid-30s.
“These outrageous claims – which were clearly designed for the media, rather than for the courts – are completely without merit, and we eagerly look forward to proving so,” Bassnectar’s attorney Mitchell Schuster said in a statement to USA TODAY.
The lawsuit claims “it was abundantly clear that Bassnectar was targeting and engaging in commercial sex acts with minors and utilizing his shows and organizations to accomplish the exploitation of young girls for his own sexual gratification. In fact, it was a running joke among those associated with Bassnectar that he would have to find a date at a high school dance.”
Similar accusations arose online last year. Without directly addressing any allegations, Bassnectar announced July 3, 2020, he was “stepping back from my career and … my position of power and privilege in this community because I want to take responsibility and accountability.”
He continued: “I feel intense compassion for anyone I may have hurt. I truly hope you allow me a chance to work together toward healing. The rumors you are hearing are untrue, but I realize some of my past actions have caused pain and I am deeply sorry.”
Both plaintiffs allege the DJ would keep in contact with fans found on Twitter through text and email. They claim he knew they were underage and would ask about their personal lives and offer advice, “including encouraging them to watch ‘American Beauty,’ a movie about an older man having a relationship with a young girl.”
He went on to offer free tickets and travel arrangements to his shows, the lawsuit claims, after which he “mandated” condoms would not be used for sexual acts, paid the high school girls between $300 and $1,600, and pressured them into keeping their interactions a secret.
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Following the start of the Me Too movement in 2016, during which several high-profile celebrities were publicly called out for sexual harassment and abuse, one of the accusers said Bassnectar reached out to her, “checking in with her often and telling her ‘you know I love you.’ ” She later told him she had begun therapy as a result of what he did to her and on June 3, 2020, according to the lawsuit, the two spoke on the phone, during which he admitted what he did was “so inappropriate,” “completely wrong” and the result of an imbalance of power as a celebrity.
“We have seen a true reckoning in recent years of powerful individuals and institutions finally being held to account for years of sexual abuse against adults and minors. But we have only begun to scratch the surface of how these influential figures and entities can go on for years committing abuses without being held responsible,” attorney Brian Kent said in a statement.
“This lawsuit is about seeking justice not just against Bassnectar but against the corporations that cooperate in and help facilitate the abuses he is alleged to have committed.”