A woman has filed a lawsuit accusing Steven Tyler, the frontman of the rock band Aerosmith, of sexually abusing her in the 1970s when she was a teenager and he was in his 20s.
Julia Misley, now 65, says in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court that Tyler used his rock star status and power to “groom, manipulate, exploit, sexually assault” her over the course of three years. She is seeking an unspecified amount of monetary compensation.
Misley, formerly known as Julia Holcomb, has for years spoken openly about how she says Tyler treated her when she was a teen. She said she was encouraged to take legal action by a California state law that temporarily expanded the ages at which adults could file civil suits over sexual assault they experienced as minors.
“I want this action to expose an industry that protects celebrity offenders, to cleanse and hold accountable an industry that both exploited and allowed me to be exploited for years, along with so many other naïve and vulnerable kids and adults,” Misley said in a statement released by her lawyers on Friday.
Misley alleges that she first met Tyler just after her 16th birthday when she was invited backstage at an Aerosmith concert in Portland, Ore., in 1973. Tyler would have been 25 years old at the time. After the show, according to the lawsuit, a “leading member of a world-famous rock band” took Misley to his hotel room, where he “performed various acts of criminal sexual conduct.” The musician then bought Misley a plane ticket for a Seattle concert, the lawsuit alleges, because she could not travel with him across state lines as a minor.
Representatives for Tyler did not immediately return NPR’s requests for comment.
The lawsuit claims that Tyler convinced Misley’s mother to let him become her legal guardian, while promising to enroll her in school and give her better medical care. The singer “did not meaningfully follow through on these promises and instead continued to travel with, assault and provide alcohol and drugs to Plaintiff,” the lawsuit says.
The details align with Tyler’s own words from his memoir. In the book, the rock star describes becoming guardian to someone who almost became his “teen bride,” according to Rolling Stone, which first reported the news of the lawsuit. He wrote: “her parents fell in love with me, signed a paper over for me to have custody, so I wouldn’t get arrested if I took her out of state. I took her on tour with me.”
Misley, who was eventually impregnated by Tyler, according to the lawsuit, was coerced by him to have an abortion. Writing publicly over a decade ago about their relationship, Misley said she left Tyler in 1977. She later married and became a mother of seven children.