Steven Tyler Scores Partial Victory in Child Sex Assault Lawsuit

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Steven Tyler attends the 4th Annual GRAMMY Awards Viewing Party to benefit Janie's Fund at Hollywood Palladium on April 03, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.  - Credit: Phillip Faraone/WireImage
Steven Tyler attends the 4th Annual GRAMMY Awards Viewing Party to benefit Janie's Fund at Hollywood Palladium on April 03, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. - Credit: Phillip Faraone/WireImage

A California lawsuit alleging Steven Tyler sexually abused a 16-year-old girl in the 1970s is moving ahead in a slightly reduced form after a successful challenge from the Aerosmith singer.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ronald F. Frank ruled Tuesday that accuser Julia Misley (formerly Julia Holcomb) was beyond the two-year statute of limitations when she included in her lawsuit a pair of emotional distress claims linked to the 1997 Aerosmith book Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith and Tyler’s 2011 book Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Memoir.

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The judge struck the book-related claims from Misley’s underlying lawsuit but said the 66-year-old plaintiff could still pursue distress damages stemming from her remaining causes of action for child sexual assault and child sexual battery. Those causes of action form the core of Misley’s complaint filed in December 2022 under state legislation that temporarily waived filing deadlines for decades-old claims of childhood molestation.

In her lawsuit first reported by Rolling Stone, Misley alleges Tyler sexually assaulted her shortly after her sixteenth birthday and groomed her to engage in a three-year relationship in which he became her legal guardian and allegedly “coerced” her to have an abortion. Tyler has denied any wrongdoing, claiming he loved Misley and nearly married her.

During the Tuesday hearing, Misley’s lawyer, Michael Reck, argued that the lawsuit’s book-related claims were “inextricably” linked to the alleged sexual abuse and should be covered by the revival window of the California Child Victims Act. He argued that Tyler’s “prurient” descriptions of sex with Misley included in his memoirs bordered on “child pornography” and were not protected by the First Amendment.

“It’s simply a perpetrator bragging about his crime and making money off of it,” Reck told the court. He said Tyler’s accounts of the alleged abuse caused his client great distress. “Writing the book without her consent, outing her to her family and friends, is a continuation of the pattern of conduct that is uninterrupted for decades. It absolutely relates to the sexual assault, which is what the statute revives,” Reck said. “The tort never ended. The tort started when it started and continued through the time the books were published.”

Tyler’s lawyer, David Long-Daniels, argued that his client was “talking about a woman he thought was the love of his life.” He said Tyler “is not a criminal and has never been convicted of anything.” Though the written motion that was the subject of Tuesday’s hearing focused on Tyler’s books, Long-Daniels argued that Misley’s entire claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) should be stricken as being too old to pursue, even as it relates to her claims of abuse dating back to when she was a minor. The judge disagreed. He struck only the claims related to the books published after Misley turned 18.

“Although the court is understanding of the fact that the memoirs may have triggered the memory of alleged childhood sexual abuse, the revival statute revives actions that were allegedly endured by plaintiffs when the plaintiff was a minor,” Judge Frank said in his ruling. He said the deadline for Misley to sue over the books would have been “2013 at the latest.”

“We agree with the judge’s reasoning. He followed the law. It’s a good day for us,” Long-Daniels told Rolling Stone after the hearing. No trial date has been set in the case, but a follow-up hearing is scheduled for late April.

Last month, a separate lawsuit accusing Tyler of sexual assault was dismissed by a New York judge because the plaintiff, former child model Jeanne Bellino, didn’t allege that Tyler’s actions posed “a serious risk of physical injury.” The judge said that with that omission, her complaint failed to meet the criteria for New York’s Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Act, the law she used to file. Bellino’s lawyer, Jeff Anderson, responded that Tyler’s lawyers failed to serve their motion to dismiss on Bellino, so she wasn’t given the appropriate time to reply. In a March 7 order, the court said Bellino could pursue a motion to amend her complaint.

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