Ryan Adams accused of sexual misconduct, emotional abuse in New York Times report

·7 min read
Ryan Adams attends the Capitol Records 75th anniversary gala at Capitol Records Tower on Nov. 15, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Getty Images)
Ryan Adams attends the Capitol Records 75th anniversary gala at Capitol Records Tower on Nov. 15, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Getty Images)

Singer, songwriter and producer Ryan Adams has been accused of sexual misconduct in a report by the New York Times. Reporters Joe Coscarelli and Melena Ryzik interviewed seven women, including Adams’s ex-wife Mandy Moore, and more than a dozen associates who “described a pattern of manipulative behavior in which Adams dangled career opportunities while simultaneously pursuing female artists for sex.”

“In some cases, they said, he would turn domineering and vengeful, jerking away his offers of support when spurned, and subjecting women to emotional and verbal abuse, and harassment in texts and on social media,” the article claims. “The accounts have been corroborated by family members or friends who were present at the time, as well as by correspondence from Adams reviewed by The New York Times.

Through a lawyer, Adams, 44, tells Yahoo “the picture that this article paints is upsettingly inaccurate.”

“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,” his statement begins. “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.”

He continues, “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.”

Three of the women on record in the story, all aspiring musicians, detail alleged inappropriate encounters with Adams that took place during his six-year marriage to Moore. “Music was a point of control for him,” the This Is Us star declares in the article.

One of the more disturbing allegations involves graphic messaging between Adams and a young girl named Ava. Ava was a teenage bass player and aspiring musician when she allegedly first began corresponding with Adams in 2013, although she admits to lying about her age.

The Times reviewed 3,217 text messages allegedly exchanged over a nine-month period when Ava was 15 and 16 and Adams 39 and 40. In texts, Adams repeatedly asked Ava how old she was, although he didn’t seem to believe her, apparently writing in November 2014, “i would get in trouble if someone knew we talked like this.”

“I never see pics of you anymore,” Adams purportedly wrote that same month. “You were blowing my mind.” He also apparently had pet names for her body parts. Days later, Adams allegedly exclaimed: “If people knew they would say I was like R Kelley lol.” The conversation then turned explicit. Adams apparently again asked Ava to “convince” him she was 18 “in the hottest way that has ever been done Lol.”

It was when Adams allegedly exposed himself during a Skype exchange that Ava distanced herself and gave up the dream of being a musician.

“Mr. Adams unequivocally denies that he ever engaged in inappropriate online sexual communications with someone he knew was underage,” a lawyer for the musician tells the Times, adding, “[Adams] does not recall having online communications with anyone related to anything outside of music.” The lawyer also pointed to Ava’s performances in clubs and provided photos from that time remarking how she looked “approximately 20.”

Another musician, Phoebe Bridgers, was 20 when Adams invited her to the Pax-Am studio in fall 2014. He apparently gave her the gift of an expensive vintage guitar and invited her to record with him the next day, comparing her to Bob Dylan. As they discussed working together on a record, he allegedly began sending her flirty texts, and the two formed a relationship.

“Yet in the weeks that followed, Adams’s attention turned obsessive and emotionally abusive, Bridgers said. He began barraging her with texts, insisting that she prove her whereabouts, or leave social situations to have phone sex, and threatening suicide if she didn’t reply immediately,” the New York Times article states.

When Bridgers broke things off, Adams apparently “became evasive about releasing the music” they had worked on together. Adams, through his lawyer, disagreed with how Bridgers described their relationship, telling the Times it was “a brief, consensual fling,” and that he didn’t recall any flirty texts. He also states that he never threatened to withhold Bridgers’s music.

Another artist, Courtney Jaye, also claims Adams courted her with the promise of making music. Jaye, who was 35 in 2013, says she wound up in bed with Adams one day, and although they didn’t have sex, she expressed feeling taken advantage of over a phone call afterwards. Jaye, who dubbed him “Hurricane Ryan,” recalled Adams saying that he still wanted to collaborate with her, but he never followed through.

Adams’s attorney tells the Times he denies that “a writing session where they ended up in bed” took place and also denies that any such phone call occurred.

“Two additional female singer-songwriters, who declined to be identified for fear of retribution, described a similar pattern of behavior from Adams: raving about their work and offering tour spots amid aggressive romantic pursuit, followed by harassing messages and threats of professional retaliation when the relationships did not progress as he wanted,” according to the Times.

The article also includes an interview with Moore. The singer and actress met Adams in 2007 and three years later, he was effectively managing her music career.

“They wrote songs together regularly that Adams promised to record, but never did. He booked them time at his studio, only to replace her with other female artists, she said. And he lashed out in ways that Moore came to consider psychologically abusive,” the Times claims.

Moore and Adams wed in 2009 after she completed her sixth LP. She hasn’t released any albums since.

“He would always tell me, ‘You’re not a real musician, because you don’t play an instrument,'” she recalls. “His controlling behavior essentially did block my ability to make new connections in the industry during a very pivotal and potentially lucrative time — my entire mid-to-late 20s.”

The pair split in 2015 and finalized their divorce one year later. Through his lawyer, Adams tells the paper Moore’s account of their marriage is “completely inconsistent with his view of the relationship.”

“What you experience with him — the treatment, the destructive, manic sort of back-and-forth behavior — feels so exclusive,” Moore adds. “You feel like there’s no way other people have been treated like this.”

The article concludes with Adams’s ex-fiancée, Megan Butterworth, describing him as controlling and emotionally abusive.

“During their relationship, he isolated her socially and professionally, she said, trying to dictate who she saw or worked with. And he could turn rageful, smashing things and physically intimidating her, she said, though he never hit her,” the Times writes.

The Times reviewed “dozens” of alleged messages from Adams to Butterworth that included “emotional pleas and vitriol, and also threatened suicide and lawsuits.” (Adams, through his attorney, denies Butterworth’s account of his behavior as controlling, abusive or physically intimidating.)

The women “chose to speak out about their experiences in the hopes of protecting others and moving forward,” they told the paper.

In a since-deleted tweet, Adams seemed to threaten the Times with its own lawsuit: “Happy Valentines Day @nytimes. I know you got lawyers / But do you have the truth on your side. No. I do. And you have run out of friends. My folks are NOT your friends. Run your smear piece. But the leagal [sic] eagles see you. Rats. I’m f—ing taking you down. Let’s learn I bait [sic].”

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