Bassnectar – real name Lorin Ashton – has responded to explosive allegations raised in a lawsuit by four women. The EDM titan stepped away from his music career last year after years of accusations that he was grooming and engaging in statutory rape of multiple underage girls. Since then, two women filed suit against him for the damages they say he caused when they were still minors – and two other women have joined the lawsuit. Ashton is responding, but first CELEB wants to break down what exactly he’s being accused of.
A Pattern of Abuse
The accusations against Ashton stretch back a decade. A number of women – now in their 20’s and 30’s – have stepped forward to describe the way they were treated by Ashton, many of whom were minors when he engaged them in sexual relationships. Instagram account @evidenceagainstbassnectar contains a fairly comprehensive – if not court admissible – account of accusations against Ashton. When scrolling through the Instagram page, you get the immediate feeling that this isn’t just about three, four, or even ten disgruntled former lovers – this is a pattern of egregious behavior. The women all share details in common with their experience.
All were young – most 16 or 17, many in their early 20’s. And they all describe Ashton trying to isolate them from family and friends, told to keep their relationship with him secret. Over and over, Ashton’s alleged victims describe how he would talk to them about how dangerous men were and how they should break up with their boyfriends and avoid other men. But not Ashton; of course, he always told them he was different. They all also describe him leaving little stacks of money for them after being intimate with him – money that increased in amount after that intimacy turned sexual.
Most describe his obsession with nature documentaries that he would point to as examples of why men should have multiple sexual partners, but women should only have one.
In the lawsuit, originally filed by Rachel Ramsbottom and Alexis Bowling, Ashton is painted as a predator who used his position of power and fame to gain access to minors and then isolate and abuse them. USAToday reports, “Two women, in a lawsuit filed Monday [April 2021] 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.” Two women have since added their claims to the lawsuit, with similar claims against the DJ.
But Ashton’s sexual assault allegations aren’t the only improprieties or egregious claims against the EDM star; they’re merely the most horrifying. Several EDM artists have accused Ashton of stealing their work. Some say they collaborated with him and received little or no money and credit; others say the exploitation went on for years as he continued to benefit from their creativity.
Explosive Proof – Ashton Steps Down
The beginning of the end for Ashton all seemed to start in 2015 when he was tagged in a post saying “Bassnectar is a pedophile.” It went mostly unnoticed. However, soon the #MeToo movement took off and people were ready to re-examine Ashton. And in June 2020, DanceMusicNW shares, “In a post shared by Miranda Hughes, who contributed vocally to Bassnectar’s melodic 2013 single, Take You Down, not only does she confirm she had a relationship with Ashton, she also accuses the producer engaging in sexual activities with underage girls and using his manipulative skills to convince her to not pursue legal action against him during their time together in an effort to assert his obvious influence over her at the time. Along with that post, there are so many stories of Ashton’s actions he directly engaged in between other young fans backstage or in his rooms while on tour, with almost all victims claiming to be only 16-17 years old at the time.”
While it may have been Hughes who started the cascade, it was an audio file from Ramsbottom which added the final nail in Ashton’s public image coffin, for many. VICE shared an extraordinarily comprehensive look at the downfall of Bassnectar and Ashton’s public image. That article adds this information about the audio file; “Ramsbottom said she knew she had the power to shift the tide of opinion by sharing a recording of a phone call between herself and Ashton. In the recording, she asks, ‘I didn’t know who I was, why would a 17-year-old, I was so impressionable…That is quite literally statutory rape…Is it not?’ A male voice doesn’t deny the allegation, instead responding, ‘Here’s what I can answer. What happened with you is something I want to take accountability on any level with you. If you think it’s worth me going to live forever in a Tennessee jail to be either raped or beaten to death…’ ‘Come on, Lorin,’ she replies. The lawsuit further claims that during that call, Ashton ‘repeatedly offered Rachel money and other benefits in an attempt to coerce her into remaining silent.’ Ashton’s team told VICE that the recording was doctored and incomplete, but did not provide further evidence nor explanation.”
After hearing him admit to some of the more egregious aspects of the allegations against him, even his most stalwart fans had to believe something was rotten in paradise. Many fans talked about abandoning their Bassnectar merchandise and support for the brand. Ashton had previously issued a half-hearted apology in a private Facebook group refusing to admit to what he did, simply apologizing for any harm he “may have caused.” Held up against this new and hard to refute proof, that apology was a slap in the face of victims and worked against him instead of in favor of.
So in July 2020, Ashton decided to walk away from it all, his reputation irrevocably tarnished. Per Complex; “‘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,’ he wrote in the statement posted to Twitter. ‘I feel intense compassion for anyone I may have hurt. I truly hope you allow me a chance to work together toward healing.'” At that point, he also passed off control of Be Interactive, his brand-associated charity.
But even at that point, he refused to take responsibility. Thus, the lawsuit that followed in early 2021.
Bassnectar Responds to the Allegations
By the time the lawsuit was filed earlier this year, people had broken into two camps: those who would believe anything Ashton said about his innocence, and those who already believed he was guilty. The lawsuit was a vital step forward for victims who needed to hold him accountable. During the formative years of several women, he manipulated, controlled, and sexually abused them; something he can’t be criminally prosecuted for at this point, but that they believe he should be held civilly liable for. The women – Ramsbottom, Bowling, a woman named Jenna Houston and an anonymous woman who was later removed from the suit after Ashton’s team demanded she make her identity known – are preparing for a battle.
Per USAToday, “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.'” Aside from Ashton, the lawsuit targets several people in his close circle who – according to the plaintiffs – knowingly sought underage girls for Ashton to interact with, or covered up his actions when doing so. The lawsuit adds that he encouraged the women to take pictures of themselves nude as minors, which would mean Ashton possessed child pornography.
While the audio file is likely not to be admissible in court, the evidence is stacked against Ashton. Through his team, Ashton has denied all of the accusations in the lawsuit and demands a trial by jury. According to Ashton, he had genuine friendships with these women – and did not have sex with the underage ones – and that they have turned opportunistic. Counsel for the plaintiffs have said, “bring it on,” to the trial by jury. Now, both sides are preparing for court.
VICE shares, “The women suing Ashton were not available to comment, but the legal response from him did provoke a reaction from Lauren Sarrantonio. She is one of several women who, though she was over 18 when she says she was in a sexual relationship with Ashton, said she felt targeted and groomed by the former EDM star. … ‘My first initial reaction was fear and sadness. I do know that this is how the system works, that he has a right to defend himself, and make his own claims, but it’s hard to read through denial of over 200 allegations that I personally experienced,’ she said. ‘Although it’s not my lawsuit, it feels like being invalidated all over again.’”
According to those close to Ashton, he continues to deny wrongdoing even in the face of his own words. The EDM star seems to believe himself above reproach – that any harm caused was worth it because of what he gave to society in the process. Ashton has even floated the conspiracy that a radical right-wing cabal is attempting to ruin his reputation.
The disgraced EDM star will have his day in court, and the victims will soon have their say.