The family of Echosmith drummer Graham Sierota is speaking out about his autism diagnosis after it was revealed he'd been contacting Travis Barker's underage daughter, Alabama.
"As a child, Graham was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder," the Sierota family said in a statement to USA TODAY Friday. "He has difficulty understanding social cues."
The family continued: "We have never publicly addressed this in the past, but given the events of the last few days, we feel compelled to speak out now to offer some additional context … and clear up the deeply hurtful mischaracterizations of Graham."
Sierota, 20, faced backlash earlier this week after Alabama shared screenshots of his alleged direct messages to her over the years. The teen wrote, "I am bringing this to your attention because I’m a 13 year old girl and he is 21/20 super creepy."
Barker, who had Alabama with ex-wife Shanna Moakler, slammed Sierota's messages as "predatory behavior."
On Friday the musician's family said Sierota "never meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable," adding that he is a cheerful person who views everyone "as a potential friend."
"We understand that his interactions were misinterpreted and misunderstood in the confusing world of social media, and we are deeply sorry," the statement added. "We will continue to work with him to have the right tools and knowledge about social boundaries and to better navigate and utilize social media while he takes a break from it."
The screenshots showed that Sierota allegedly contacted Alabama as early as September 2016, calling her "beautiful" when she was just 10 years old. The Echosmith drummer appeared to reach out again in July to invite her to a barbecue.
"Ur like 40," Alabama responded, adding: "U understand I’m a child?"
He replied, "I just wanted to say i really like ur music and sorry for messaging…I’m 20."
Barker gave a furious statement in response, saying "there is nothing cool, normal or OK" about Sierota's messages, calling them "predatory."
"When I found out a 20 year old man was trying to get in touch with my 13 year old daughter by filling her Instagram messages with party invites and compliments I was disgusted," the Blink-182 drummer said in a statement to The Blast.
In response to the backlash, Sierota claimed that he was unaware of Alabama's age.
"I had invited Alabama to my parents’ big family BBQ along with many other people, and it wasn’t until she responded that I realized her age at which point I apologized to her," Sierota said in a statement Thursday to People and Page Six. "I didn’t realize she was a minor and assumed she was my age."
Sierota, who performs in Echosmith with his sister Sydney, 22, and brother Noah, 23, has apologized to the Barker family for his behavior, adding he made a "careless mistake."
He continued: "I'm really sorry and feel very badly about this… I made a careless mistake and this is a big lesson for me. I would like to apologize again to Alabama, her dad Travis, and her family."
Alabama said she forgive Sierota in an Instagram Story posted in the early hours of Friday morning. “Hey guys! I am posting on behalf of the drummer of Echosmith," she wrote. "He dmed me a while back in 2016 and then once again in July saying I was beautiful and invited me to a bbq at his house.
"He is very sorry about the situation and regretful," she continued, "I forgive him and would like for all of this to be over.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Echosmith drummer Graham Sierota is autistic, family says