On Wednesday, the NY Times released a major report on musician Ryan Adams and how he allegedly used his influence in music to psychologically manipulate and emotionally torment multiple women, including ex-wife Mandy Moore, musician Phoebe Bridgers and more. Now, the Times reports the FBI is investigating one particular allegation in the report: that Adams engaged in sexually explicit communications with an underage fan.
In the original report, the Times wrote that when Adams was around 40, he started corresponding online with a fan, whom they refer to as Ava, when she was a 14-year-old bass player. They reviewed the extensive communication between the two (including 3,217 texts) which they exchanged over a nine-month period when Ava was 15 and 16—conversations about music turned into graphic texting, Skype conversations, and phone sex.
Adams seemed acutely aware of—and nervous about—Ava's age at the time:
In the texts, Adams questioned Ava repeatedly about her age, and sometimes she said she was older than she was. Though he did not seem convinced, their sexual conversations continued. “i would get in trouble if someone knew we talked like this,” Adams wrote to her in November 2014.
Their conversations were on and off, but a constant theme was Adams fretting about Ava’s age — and asking to keep their exchanges secret — while also indulging in sexual scenarios.
“I never see pics of you anymore,” Adams wrote in November 2014, when he had just turned 40 and Ava was newly 16. “You were blowing my mind.” He had pet names for her body parts.
Days later, Adams expressed anxiety: “If people knew they would say I was like R Kelley lol,” he wrote.
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.”
Through his attorney, Adams denied any wrongdoing: "Mr. Adams unequivocally denies that he ever engaged in inappropriate online sexual communications with someone he knew was underage," said attorney Andrew B. Brettler. He also got more specific about the Ava accusations:
Adams, through his lawyer, said that while he “has communications online with various fans and aspiring musicians,” he “does not recall having online communications with anyone related to anything outside of music.” The lawyer added that “if, in fact, this woman was underage, Mr. Adams was unaware.” He pointed to her performances in clubs and provided photos of Ava from that time, saying she looked “approximately 20.”
Shortly after the article went up, Adams put a statement on Twitter denying most of the accusations, saying: "Some of its details are misrepresented; some are exaggerated; some are outright false. I would never have inappropriate interactions with someone I thought was underage. Period."
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 thought was underage. Period.
— Ryan Adams (@TheRyanAdams) February 13, 2019
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.
— Ryan Adams (@TheRyanAdams) February 13, 2019
Earlier that day, Adams tweeted then deleted another statement threatening the Times with legal action: "I'm fucking taking you down."
Worth noting that Ryan Adams sent this deranged (and now deleted) tweet earlier today ahead of the New York Times exposé being published. pic.twitter.com/rd8mVkSEQk
— ⭐ amy o'connor ⭐ (@amyohconnor) February 13, 2019
The FBI agents, from the Crimes Against Children Squad in the bureau’s New York office, will seek to interview Ava, who is no longer a minor, and try to "obtain the text messages and any other evidence she may have in her possession."
Please note, the Ryan Adams "Big Colors" release has been completely cancelled! Any orders will be cancelled and if you used Paypal - refunded. #ryanadams
— srcvinyl (@srcvinyl) February 15, 2019
Musician/model Karen Elson and musician Liz Phair have also made statements about the story and their past relationships with Adams. "I also had a traumatizing experience with Ryan Adams," Elson wrote on Instagram. "I’m not quite brave enough yet to speak about my specifics."
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Not every woman is comfortable sharing her story. We must respect that! These matters are complicated and are hard to dissect, express and even understand. We blame ourselves and we shame ourselves. While I don’t want to share my specific experience, reading The NY Times story is profoundly healing.
And here's what Phair, who previously worked with Adams on music, had to say:
If I do, I’ll write about it. But I think you can extrapolate. My experience was nowhere near as personally involving, but yes the record ended and the similarities are upsetting
— Liz Phair (@PhizLair) February 14, 2019
Other musicians commented on the report as well:
Thank you to Mandy, Phoebe, Courtney and others for speaking out. This is an important article. This also cracks the door on more like him in our industry. There are more. Thank you to the @nytimes for continuing these important reveals. We're all fed up. https://t.co/xlU6ibjubX
— V a n e s s a C a r l t o n (@VanessaCarlton) February 14, 2019
The saddest part about the NYT article on Ryan Adams is that it could literally be written about so many dudes in music. Also my favorite type of male apology is the kind where they literally don’t apologize at all lol
— Best Coast (@BestCoast) February 13, 2019
Having to perpetually question if a potential collaborator is interested in you musically or personally is an enormous and unspoken barrier for women in music.
Every gatekeeper is a man.
And so you have to ask yourself. https://t.co/cxs4LBPAvF
— The Weather Station (@TheWeatherStn) February 14, 2019
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) February 14, 2019