Boyd Tinsley, the violinist for Dave Matthews Band, was sued on Thursday for sexual harassment by trumpeter James Frost-Winn, Billboard reports. Frost-Winn met Tinsley in 2007 in San Francisco when Frost-Winn was still trying to get into the music industry. The two later worked together in a band called Crystal Garden. The lawsuit details a number of uncomfortable encounters that range from a declined offer to return to Tinsley’s hotel room after Outside Lands music festival in 2009 to Frost-Winn falling asleep in a music studio and waking up to Tinsley “ejaculating next to him” with one hand on Frost-Winn’s buttocks.
"In retrospect, he was absolutely grooming me," Frost-Winn told Consequence of Sound. "I considered him like a brother, my family, especially after my mother passed—he was one of the positive role models in my life. I invested a lot into a relationship that was ultimately very bad for me. I first met him being homeless and 18 and new to experiencing the world. I felt very betrayed at the end of this."
In 2014, Tinsley approached Frost-Winn to create the band Crystal Garden. The group would record in Tinsley’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia. This location is where Frost-Winn claims he fell asleep one day after staying up all night to work on music and woke up once to Tinsley touching his leg, "putting his feet on his buttocks and rubbing his back." Frost-Winn told Tinsley to stop, and moved to a couch outside of the studio and fell asleep again. He woke up a second time feeling “humiliated and scared” as Tinsley was ejaculating next to him. Frost-Winn left immediately and returned to San Francisco, after which Tinsley attempted to apologize.
Frost-Winn claims Tinsley behavior did not stop, and he would send suggestive text messages saying he wanted to "sexually exploit him for the band's success," calling him a "sex symbol" and said he was "masturbating at the thought of a sexy photo shoot of James." Tinsley even joked with other band members that he once masturbated next to Frost-Winn because “he could not stop himself.” Frost-Winn eventually left the band.
Frost-Winn is suing Tinsley for "loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, and humiliation in an amount to be proven at trial."
Frost-Winn attempted to settle out of court and issued a demand letter on February 2 of this year to Tinsley. That was the same day that Tinsley announced he would be taking a break from Dave Matthews Band, claiming he was “somewhat worn out.”
A representative for the band issued a statement to Consequence of Sound on Thursday, saying: "[Tinsley] has been a member of the family since the band began and we want him to focus on his health and get better. We support his decision to do this and we're sending positive thoughts his way."
Another representative for Dave Matthews Band gave a statement to Billboard that addressed the sexual harassment claims more head-on. “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 group's statement reads.
This is not the first time Tinsley has been the subject of a lawsuit. In 2015, Tinsley’s former financial advisor Andrew Rothenberg sued him for $10 million for interfering with his financial management business and damaging his psychological wellbeing, Stereogum reported at the time. “Those of particular interest to Tinsley are treated to gifts, jobs, and access to other celebrities. Tinsley does all of this to gain leverage of the people in his world,” that lawsuit stated. “Tinsley does all of this so he may be a sexual predator. Tinsley has victimized an unknown number of starry-eyed fans.” The suit was eventually thrown out.
“I know I’m not the first person, but I hope to be the last,” Frost-Winn told Consequence of Sound and added that the #MeToo movement motivated him as well. “The only reason I’m going public is because [my lawyers and I] feel like these are very serious matters, and we want justice. I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”