The FBI has opened an investigation into Ryan Adams’ alleged texts and messages to an underage fan, who claimed in a New York Times exposé that the singer had initiated sexually explicit communications with her when she was as young as 15. The Times now reports that federal police are now questioning whether he committed a crime.
The young woman, who was identified by her middle name of “Ava” in Wednesday’s article, was 14 when she first came into contact with Adams in 2013. She and the singer exchanged over 3,000 text messages over the course of nine months. They connected via Skype at one point, and Ava said that Adams was nude at the time. The Times reported that he frequently inquired about her age but nevertheless persisted in his pursuit of her. “If people knew [of our texts] they would say I was like R. Kelley [sic] lol,” he wrote in one exchange.
Adams has denied any misconduct through his lawyer. “If, in fact, this woman was underage, Mr. Adams was unaware,” attorney Andrew B. Brettler told the paper. The lawyer told the Times Thursday that authorities had not yet contacted him.
Yet the paper reports that the FBI’s New York office was looking into a criminal investigation. Agents on the Crimes Against Children Squad will seek out the woman and attempt to read her texts. After assessing whether the case has merit, they’ll proceed accordingly. The Times reported that the case could depend on whether Adams believed she was of legal age when he was sexting her; Ava occasionally lied about her age. An attorney for Ava, now 20, did not comment to the paper, since her family is deciding what it wants to pursue.
Via Twitter, Adams maintained his innocence following the publication of the original article. “The picture that this article paints is upsettingly inaccurate,” he wrote. “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.”
When Ava first contacted Adams, she was playing bass, and he encouraged her. But as time went on and their communications allegedly turned more graphic and coercive, she said she became turned off at the prospect of making music with him. Several other women, including his ex-wife Mandy Moore and ex-fiancée Megan Butterworth, reported that he was intimidating and, in Moore’s case, a roadblock in her career. The women said that as they discovered that so many others had had shared experience, they formed a support network.
Earlier on Thursday, Jack White’s ex-wife Karen Elson, shared that she too had had a “traumatizing experience” with Adams via Instagram. “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,” she wrote. “This is the power of sisterhood, and I’m very grateful for these women.”