Ryan Adams, the popular singer-songwriter, has become the latest powerful man accused of abusive behavior. In a Wednesday report by the New York Times, a number of women — including his ex-wife Mandy Moore and musician Phoebe Bridgers — claim they were subjected to psychological abuse by Adams, who allegedly exercised control over them by dangling career opportunities and retaliating against them professionally. Beyond that, the report also includes a disturbing allegation that Adams, now 44, preyed upon a girl through graphic text messages, some of which were sent when she was “newly 16” years old. Following the publication of the report, Adams released a statement forcefully disputing these claims.
Adams, who has released 16 albums throughout his successful career, reportedly began corresponding with a fan online in 2013. (The Times calls the girl “Ava,” her middle name, in the report to protect her anonymity as she was a minor at the time, though she’s 20 now). Ava was a young bass player with a burgeoning career, and innocent messages about music reportedly turned into graphic texting and sexual video calls on Skype. During one such call, Adams allegedly exposed himself to the girl.
The Times states that it reviewed 3,217 texts between Ava and Adams during a nine-month period when she was 15 and 16. Adams would continually ask Ava her age, and she occasionally purported to be older. However, the Times notes that “he did not seem convinced,” and made disturbing comments in their messages, like “i would get in trouble if someone knew we talked like this,” and “If people knew they would say I was like R Kelley (sic).”
The messages between Adams and Ava were reportedly quite sexual, with the pair engaging in different sexual scenarios and Adams giving nicknames to her different body parts. After aforementioned R. Kelly text message, per the Times, Adams quickly changed his tune:
Yet within 10 minutes, the conversation again turned explicit. “I just want you to touch your nipple,” he texted, before again asking about her age. “And tell me that your mom is not gonna kill me if she finds out we even text.”
In response to Adams’s repeated pleas that she tell him she was 18 — “You have to convince me,” he wrote — Ava at times said she was. Sometimes he asked to see identification — “in the hottest way that has ever been done Lol.” She never showed him any ID.
Though Adams reportedly talked with Ava about possibly recording together once their relationship fizzled, the girl says that the experience turned her off music entirely and that she never played another gig again.
Adams’s lawyer Andrew B. Brettler told the Times, “Mr. Adams unequivocally denies that he ever engaged in inappropriate online sexual communications with someone he knew was underage.” The attorney further said that Adams often corresponds with fans and that “if, in fact, this woman was underage, Mr. Adams was unaware.” Brettler also stated that Ava looked “approximately 20” in photos from the time.
Adams said in a statement: “I am not a perfect man and I have made many mistakes. To anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally, I apologize deeply and unreservedly. But the picture that this article paints is upsettingly inaccurate. Some of its details are misrepresented; some are exaggerated; some are outright false. I would never have inappropriate interactions with someone I though was underage. Period. As someone who has always tried to spread joy through my music and my life, hearing that some people believe I caused them pain saddens me greatly. I am resolved to work to be the best man I can be. And I wish everyone compassion, understanding and healing.”
This article has been updated with a statement from Adams.