Violinist Boyd Tinsley, who recently left the Dave Matthews Band, has been sued for sexual harassment by James Frost-Winn in a lawsuit filed Thursday in King County, Washington. The plaintiff was the trumpeter in Crystal Garden, a group assembled by Tinsley. The violinist said in a statement that he will “fight both in and out of court to repair the damage that has been done.”
The lawsuit follows Tinsley’s announcement in February that he was taking “a break” from the band after 25 years “2 focus on my family & my health 4 a while,” he tweeted. “I’m somewhat worn out & need 2 spend more time with my family & 2 bring more balance to my life.” Matthews himself alluded to the situation in a recent interview with Vulture in which he said, “I have a deep love for Boyd, and he has to deal with his stuff. … I can’t say, ‘I can’t wait till he comes back,’ because I don’t know what’s going to happen. But right now being away is better for him. Nobody is happy about this situation.”
Those comments could conflict with a statement on the matter provided to Rolling Stone by a DMB rep, which reads: “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 lawsuit, which is filled with graphic text messages and allegations of sexual harassment by Tinsley, says that the violinist discovered the then-18-year-old Winn in 2007, performing as a street musician in San Francisco. A friendship developed over the following years, in which Winn “was catapulted by Defendant Tinsley into a world of luxury and living his lifelong dream of playing music worldwide – a dream come true for Plaintiff Winn. Traveling the world playing live shows, recording music with international music talent, 5-star hotels, first-class food, drinks & friends – all supplied by Defendant Tinsley for his employee, Plaintiff Winn,” according to the lawsuit.
Tinsley “began sexually harassing his employee, Plaintiff Winn, in 2015 – sexually flirting with verbal sexual comments, physically touching, sexting – including communicating to Plaintiff Winn that he provided ‘this life’ and ‘these things’ to Plaintiff Winn and that Plaintiff Winn ‘owed him,’” the lawsuit reads. “The harassment was in no way welcome and destroyed Plaintiff Winn emotionally… [he] was left with no choice but to walk away from the dream-turned-nightmare that he had been living.”
The suit claims that Tinsley texted Winn after the first incident, saying that he had been “confused on pills” and “messed up” and promised not to repeat the incident. Yet a number of sexually graphic texts followed in 2016, which the suit claims were sent by Tinsley to Winn; the trumpeter left the band in August of that year.
Winn seeks damages “for loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, and humiliation in an amount proven at trial,” as well as back pay and loss of future earning potential.