The Guardian: LONDON, England, By Lois Beckett – A woman who says she had a sexual relationship with Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler when she was 16 is suing him in California, under a state law that has temporarily extended the statute of limitations for adults to take legal action on sexual abuse they suffered as children.
Julia Holcomb Misley, who has spoken out publicly for years about Tyler’s treatment of her as a teenager, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on Tuesday alleging sexual battery, sexual assault and intentional infliction of distress during a three-year period in the 1970s.
“Because I know that I am not the only one who suffered abuse in the music industry, I feel it is time for me to take this stand,” Misley, now 65, said in a statement. She said the goal of her lawsuit was to “make the music industry safer, expose the predators in it, and expose those forces in the industry that have both enabled and created a culture of permissiveness and self-protection of themselves and the celebrity offenders among them”.
While the lawsuit does not name Tyler, referring to him only as “Doe 1”, a “well-known musician and rock star”, the complaint quotes directly from Tyler’s 2011 memoir, Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?, in which the rock star describes his sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl he picked up after a show in 1973, including convincing her parents to give him legal custody of her, “so I wouldn’t get arrested if I took her out of state”.
However, Misley’s lawyers named Tyler in a press release about the case. Representatives for the singer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the lawsuit, Misley says that the rock star met her after a concert in Portland in 1973, when she had just turned 16, and that he took her back to a hotel, where she told him her age and described her troubled family background. The musician “performed various acts of criminal sexual conduct”, and then sent her home in a taxi, according to the lawsuit.
He soon followed up to offer her a ticket to another show, saying “he would buy the plane ticket so that she could travel separately from him since she was a minor and could not travel with [him] across state lines”.
Julia Holcomb Misley and Steven Tyler in Inglewood, California, in 1975 = Photograph: Mark Sullivan/Contour by Getty Images
He would go on to use his power and influence as a prominent rock star to “groom, manipulate, exploit, [and] sexually assault” the teenager “over the course of three years in numerous states across the country”, including in California, the lawsuit alleges.
After her sophomore year in high school, the lawsuit alleges, the rock star brought the teenager to stay with him in Boston, then convinced her not to return home to school, but travel with him on the road instead. He convinced her mother to allow him to become her legal guardian, “promising he would enroll her in school” and provide her with better support than her mother could, but in fact, only “continued to travel with, assault and provide alcohol and drugs” to her.
When Misley became pregnant, in 1975, the rock star was now “both the father of Plaintiff’s unborn child and her legal guardian”, the suit alleges, and he told her not to seek appropriate prenatal care, worried “he would get in trouble” with doctors.
Later, after she was trapped inside a burning apartment and suffered from smoke inhalation, he coerced her to get an abortion, causing her years of distress, the lawsuit alleges.
Misley’s relationship with Tyler was well documented: “Julia Holcomb” was named in a 1976 Rolling Stone profile of the rock star, in which she was portrayed as a girlfriend who was constantly in his company. The two had been photographed together, and Misley was interviewed about her interactions with Tyler in a 2021 documentary, Look Away, which focused on the abuse of young women in the music industry during the 70s and 80s.
Tyler’s 2011 memoir devotes several pages to his upbeat and sexually graphic recollections of a three-year relationship with an anonymous teenage “groupie” he compares to Kate Hudson’s character in the film Almost Famous, writing that he was “so in love I almost took a teen bride”.
“With my bad self being twenty-six and she barely old enough to drive and sexy as hell, I just fell madly in love with her,” Tyler wrote.
A “Julia Halcomb” is named in his book’s acknowledgments. In Misley’s lawsuit, she accuses the rock star of inflicting additional emotional distress on her through the “involuntary infamy” of being described in graphic terms in his memoirs, which created additional trauma, and deep feelings of shame, humiliation and fear in her.
Misley “was in line at a grocery store and saw a picture of herself on a tabloid that referred to her as DEFENDANT DOE 1’s teen lover. The caption under Plaintiff’s photo read, ‘She was 15 when they fell in love. He’s described her as having “more legs than a bucket of chicken,”’” the lawsuit alleges. The same tabloid story included explicit details of her coerced abortion.
Misley has since become an anti-abortion advocate in the US, speaking and writing about her experience with Tyler in the context of campaigns to limit abortion rights, including an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and a long written piece on an anti-abortion advocacy site. Her lawsuit and statements emphasised the importance of her Catholic faith, and said that she believed safety inside the Catholic church had been improved because of legal efforts to tackle the sexual abuse of children within the church.
Misley’s lawsuit was filed just days before the end of a three-year window, created by a 2019 California law, that gave adult survivors a chance to file lawsuits about child sexual abuse that occurred decades ago.
The impending deadline has resulted in a flood of new lawsuits, including more than 2,000 against the Catholic church, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Top Feature Photo: The Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler in 2019. Photograph: Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty Images