Artist News Legal

Karen Elson and Liz Phair speak out against Ryan Adams, as FBI launches investigation into communications with underage fan

By | Published on Friday 15 February 2019

Ryan Adams

Karen Elson and Liz Phair have added their names to the list of female musicians who have spoken out against Ryan Adams. Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating claims that the musician engaged in explicit communications with an underage fan.

Allegations against Adams emerged in a New York Times article earlier this week. In it, six women, including his former wife Mandy Moore and Phoebe Bridgers, accused him of offering to help them in their careers, before harassing them and becoming emotionally abusive. In the case of Moore, she said that he also halted her career at a pivotal time.

Another of his accusers, identified only as ‘Ava’, says that she was fourteen and at the beginning of a career in music when she first came into contact with Adams. She alleges that he offered to help her further that career, but that later their communications became sexual, and that at one time he exposed himself to her on a Skype call.

Adams, through his lawyer, denies all the accusations. But the NYT says that it has reviewed over 3000 text message communications, in which Adams makes sexually explicit comments and repeatedly questions Ava about her age, at one point saying, “I would get in trouble if someone knew we talked like this”. She says that the experience ultimately caused her to give up playing music.

In a post on Twitter, Adams said: “I would never have inappropriate interactions with someone I thought was underage. Period”.

It is these communications which are now being investigated by the FBI. A further New York Times article says that the publications has been told that the law enforcement agency intends to interview the woman involved and also obtain the text messages and any other evidence. At that point, it will decide whether to investigate further and potentially pursue criminal charges.

In the original article, the women involved all speak of how Adams initially spoke enthusiastically about their music, offering to collaborate with them to advance their careers. In each case, he then attempted to move things to a sexual relationship, later becoming abusive, threatening to suppress their work together or take his own life if they did not do as he asked. “Music was a point of control for him”, adds Moore.

Adams’ lawyer denied the allegations made against his client in the article, referring to some of them as “grousing by disgruntled individuals”. In a series of posts on Twitter, Adams himself also wrote: “I am not a perfect man and I have made many mistakes. To anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally, I apologise 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”.

He added: “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”.

Since the publication of the original article, Phair and Elson have now also spoken out.

In an Instagram post, Elson wrote: “I also had a traumatising experience with Ryan Adams. While I’m not quite brave enough yet to speak about my specifics, I’m encouraged that many women have bonded and helped each other heal. This is the power of sisterhood and I’m very grateful for these women”.

“I hope all those speaking out are given the grace and dignity they deserve”, she continued. “The trauma that lingers is often a very powerful silencer of women as is the business that enables these men to thrive without ever facing consequences”.

Meanwhile, responding to a fan on Twitter who asked about her experiences working with Adams, Phair said that her “experience was nowhere near as personally involving” but that “the similarities are upsetting”.