Ryan Adams is facing accusations of behavior both loathsome and potentially illegal — including from ex-wife Mandy Moore.
In a wide-ranging new exposé, The New York Times spoke to several women who have had interactions with the singer-songwriter over the years, seeming to show a pattern of emotionally abusive, sometimes predatory behavior.
In one case, with an underage girl.
The Times spoke to numerous women; here are the stories which stand out:
Moore says when they were married he took over her music career, discouraging her from working with any other producers or managers:
“Music was a point of control for him.”
They wrote songs together, but they were never released. Instead, she recalls, he would replace her in the studio with other female artists to collaborate with:
“He would always tell me, ‘You’re not a real musician, because you don’t play an instrument.”
Eesh. She says ultimately his influence stifled her confidence and creativity — and killed any chance she had of staying a pop star:
“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.”
Moore has not released an album since 2009’s Amanda Leigh, which came out shortly after their wedding — but was produced long before.
Adams has responded to the This Is Us star’s statements through a lawyer, saying the picture she paints is “completely inconsistent with his view of the relationship, and that he is supportive of her “well-deserved professional success.”
Ex-fiancée Megan Butterworth agrees with Moore, telling the Times Adams was controlling during their relationship, isolating her “socially and professionally.” She also says he broke things and “physically intimidating her.”
Butterworth says after they broke up he harassed her with nonstop calls and messages, everything from begging to threats of suicide. Reportedly, he also rudely posted a picture of her on his Instagram advertising her as “SINGLE” saying “Get it while it’s hot folks” and tagging her friends.
Moore says she was surprised to have found out recently she and Butterworth had similar experiences, saying:
“What you experience with him — the treatment, the destructive, manic sort of back and forth behavior — feels so exclusive. You feel like there’s no way other people have been treated like this.”
Apparently others had.
Though the more disturbing claims come from those who say they were looking for something more professional.
Phoebe Bridgers was 20 in 2014 when Adams (twice her age at the time) invited her to perform for him at his Pax-Am studio. She was singularly interested in what the singer could do for her career, telling the Times:
“There was a mythology around him. It seemed like he had the power to propel people forward.”
But after he said he would put her songs out as an EP on his label, he got flirty, and the two began dating. That relationship apparently came with an offer to open for him on his upcoming tour. Then, she says, he got controlling and jealous and manipulated her with threats of suicide.
After she broke up with him, she says he got cagey about when he would release her songs and told her he no longer wanted her to open for him on his tour.
She says he continued to pursue her for months after their breakup, sometimes seeming to tease her with advancements to her career. He eventually released her songs in 2015 and got a lot of credit for her success. And in 2017 he offered her a few opening dates once again, which she accepted. That’s when things got really inappropriate. She reveals:
“Then, the first day, he asked me to bring him something in his hotel room. I came upstairs and he was completely nude.”
Once again, Adams takes issue with Bridgers’ description of their relationship, which he says was a “brief, consensual fling.”
Multiple other female musicians described similar behavior to the Times, in which Adams would allegedly lure them with musical collaboration then turn that into a romantic or sexual pursuit — ultimately threatening the professional advancement he’d promised when it didn’t work out.
Courtney Jaye got an offer directly on Twitter. Adams told the unsigned musician he loved her sound and wanted to produce her next record.
She says the professional collaboration gradually turned into sexual advances, which she tried to reject. Jaye says she had been a victim of sexual misconduct before and reacted instinctively:
“I just shut myself off.”
She says the two ended up in bed together but didn’t have sex, after which she told Adams she was uncomfortable with how things had happened.
Jaye claims Adams told her he still wanted to record with her but then… didn’t. And the experience broke her spirit:
“Something changed in me that year. It made me just not want to make music.”
Adams’ lawyer denies her version, saying the two “never had a writing session where they ended up in bed.”
The most damning of all comes from a young woman identified only as Ava, her middle name. Why? She was underage.
Ava tells the Times she was only 14 when she began speaking to Adams online. Their conversations turned into text messaging and eventually turned sexually explicit.
The Times reviewed 3,217 (!!!) text messages exchanged between the two over a period of nine months, during which Ava was only 15 and 16 years old.
According to the Times, Adams had “pet names” for Ava’s body parts and asked her to be more explicit in photos, writing:
“I just want you to touch your nipple”
He also wrote:
“I never see pics of you anymore… You were blowing my mind”
Based on the dates of the messages, Adams was 40 years old at the time. Ava had just turned 16.
Per the outlet’s review, Ava told him multiple times she was older than she was, but he seemed suspicious. He allegedly asked her to show him ID to prove she was 18 but to do so “in the hottest way that has ever been done Lol.”
He also asked her to keep their conversations a secret, telling her:
“i would get in trouble if someone knew we talked like this”
“If people knew they would say I was like R Kelley lol”
The two never met in person. Ava says she agreed to video chat with Ryan once, but when she logged onto Skype, he was already naked.
Ava tells the Times she stopped messaging with Adams when it became clear there was a problematic power dynamic between them and he wielded “sexual power” over her.
She also says despite her promising start in the music industry, the idea she ultimately came away with after her relationship with Adams was that she would have to use sex to get ahead and it “just totally put me off to the whole idea” of being a professional musician.
Ava is now 20 years old. She has not played a gig in years.
Adams’ lawyer, unsurprisingly, is most overtly defensive on this accusation, writing:
“Mr. Adams unequivocally denies that he ever engaged in inappropriate online sexual communications with someone he knew was underage.”
He also says while Adams does speak with fans online, he “does not recall having online communications with anyone related to anything outside of music.” Further, he writes “if, in fact, this woman was underage, Mr. Adams was unaware.” He then points to photos and video of Ava from the time in question, saying she looked “approximately 20.”
It’s unclear whether Adams could face legal consequences for what happened with Ava.
While there are laws about soliciting sexual relationships with minors, even over text, there are two hurdles for prosecution. First, jurisdiction. As the New York Times points out:
“Laws regarding explicit digital communication with a minor vary from state to state and are separate from age of consent laws, which encompass physical contact. In Ohio, where Ava lived, it is a felony to solicit, exchange or possess any material that shows a person under 18 engaging in sexual activity. New York, where Adams was during some of these exchanges, has similar laws regarding children younger than 17, and federal statutes use 18 as the age of adulthood.”
The other major issue is whether Adams reasonably believed Ava was of legal age. While his requests for ID imply he did not, this could end up being a tricky thing to prove for a district attorney’s office.
After the article came out Wednesday afternoon, Adams himself responded on Twitter, saying:
The first few allegations are more along the lines of a warning to other girls DO NOT DATE.
But as more and more women share their experiences, a pattern seems to emerge that paints the image of a man using his position of power to leverage sex from women who want to get ahead in their careers.
Finally, according to Ava’s evidence, this appears to be a grown man of 40 years willing to sexually exploit very young women, even ones he suspects are legally protected. And that is more than just problematic — it’s predatory.
What do YOU think of these allegations and Adams’ response??
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