The Mercury News
Star DJ accused of child sex crimes
San Jose native Bassnectar, a superstar DJ in the Electronic Dance Music realm, has been accused of sex trafficking with minors and child pornography, according to multiple media outlets.
A lawsuit filed against Bassnectar — whose real name is Lorin Ashton — claims that the DJ used his “power and influence to groom and ultimately sexually victimize underage girls,” according to Vulture magazine. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two women who reportedly are claiming that Bassnectar had sexual relations with them, as well as solicited explicit pictures of them, while minors.
The lawsuit also names several organizations affiliated with Bassnectar — Amorphous Music, Bassnectar Touring, Redlight Management, C3 Presents and Interactive Giving Fund — “as co-defendants also accused of human trafficking,” according to Rolling Stone.
The star’s alleged involvement with his accusers reportedly began in 2012, when “Bassnectar first contacted the girls via direct message on social media to start a relationship,” according to TMZ. “Both women claim he encouraged them to watch the film ‘American Beauty’ — described as ‘a movie about an older man having a relationship with a young girl’ — and even referenced the theme of the film at his shows.”
Bassnectar reportedly knew that the girls were underage, but still decided to send them tickets to his concerts and then invite them back to “his hotel room for sex … which he allegedly ‘mandated be without the use of a condom,'” according to TMZ.
Legal documents claim that “the DJ paid the girls for sex in amounts ranging from $300 to $1,600, and is accused of maintaining control over their lives while directing them to keep their relationship secret,” TMZ reports.
Bassnectar’s lawyer Mitchell Schuster has not responded to a Bay Area News Group request for comments on the charges.
Schuster did, however, issued a statement to Rolling Stone.
“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,” the statement reportedly says.
Brian Kent, a lawyer for one of the accusers, said the case is another case of a powerful man in the entertainment industry plying their fame for sex from young women.
“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,” the press release reads, according to Rolling Stone. “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. 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.”
The allegations that Bassnectar sexually abused minors came to light in June via the @evidenceagainstbassnectar Instagram page; which contained claims by several women they they had been abused by the EDM star. One month later, the DJ would reply to these allegations on social media, saying that “the rumors you are hearing are untrue” but also adding that he was taking a break from his music career.
“I am stepping back from my career and I am stepping down from my position of power and privilege in this community because I want to take responsibility and accountability. I feel intense compassion for anyone I may have hurt,” he said on Twitter. “I truly hope that you allow me a chance to work together toward healing. The rumors you are hearing are untrue, but I realize that some of my past actions have caused pain, and I am deeply sorry.”
He added: “Sometime in the future I may share more thoughts on these matters, but for now, please take care of each other and I wish you all the brightest.”
The accusers are hoping to bring this before a jury and are seeking “damages in an amount which will effectively prevent other similarly caused acts and adequately reflect the enormity of the Defendants’ wrong and injuries to the Plaintiffs,'” according to Rolling Stone.
Ashton grew up in San Jose and went on to attend U.C. Santa Cruz. He began performing as Bassnectar in the early 2000s and began to draw attention through performances at Burning Man and numerous house parties. His career really took off — like the rest of the EDM genre — about a decade later as he regularly performed before thousands at major festivals and events both in the U.S. and elsewhere.
He maintained a dedicated fan base — known as “Bassheads” — and released several albums. According to Vice magazine, Bassheads formed a “thriving counterculture community” that “came with its own dress code, etiquette and slang.”
In 2016, Bassnectar performed his first hometown show, before an audience of some 6,000 at the San Jose State Event Center.