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Aerosmith's Steven Tyler Sued For Sexual Assaulting Teen Girl In The '70s

Julia Misley, formerly known as Julia Holcomb, was 16 when she says Tyler assaulted her after a show in Oregon. Both parties agree he later gained legal guardianship of her so she could tour with his band.

By Megan Carpentier
Steven Tyler arrives at Steven Tyler's Third Annual Grammy Awards Viewing Party

The courts have given permission to name Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler as the defendant in a lawsuit by a woman who says he assaulted her in the 1970s when she was a teen.

Tyler, 74, was, until Wednesday, listed as the John Doe defendant in a civil suit filed by Julia Misley, 65, in December alleging sexual assault, sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to Entertainment Weekly and the Associated Press. Misley, formerly known as Julia Holcomb, filed the suit under California's 2019 Child Victims Act, which gave adult victims of childhood sexual assault a three-year window to file lawsuits that would otherwise have fallen outside the state's statute of limitations.

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Though she was not allowed to name Tyler in legal filings until a judge's ruling on Wednesday, she and her lawyers did name him in public statements when the suit was filed. In addition, Misley had previously recounted her experiences in interviews and a 2011 blogpost prior to the lawsuit and Tyler had discussed a relationship with a teenage girl in both his 1997 autobiography and his 2011 memoir and named her in the acknowledgments of his latter book.

A 1976 Rolling Stone profile of the band, conducted during their "Rocks" tour that year, twice makes mention of Julia Holcomb as Tyler's romantic interest. She would have been 18 at the time of the tour.

Steven Tyler in 1975

In the lawsuit, Misley claims that Tyler “used his role, status and power as a well-known musician and rock star to gain access to, groom, manipulate, exploit [and] sexually assault" her for much of their acquaintanceship, according to the AP. 

She alleges in the lawsuit — and stated in her 2011 story — that the two met backstage after an Aerosmith show in Portland, Oregon when she was barely 16. Tyler, who was 25 at the time, allegedly invited her back to his hotel where she claims he engaged in “various acts of criminal sexual conduct" against her, the outlet reported.

She says that they continued to meet up after his concerts and the sexual acts to which she was not old enough to consent continued. Eventually, he convinced her single mother to sign over legal guardianship to him in 1974, so that he would be legally in the clear to live with her in Boston and take her on tour, she alleges.

In the lawsuit and in her 2011 blog post, she alleges that she got pregnant in 1975 and that Tyler subsequently pressured her into having an abortion in the autumn of 1975. (She is now a Christian speaker and anti-abortion advocate.)

In his 1997 autobiography, Tyler references a teen girl he nearly married, an unwanted pregnancy and an abortion, the AP reported.

She said in her blogpost that she left him in early 1977, having never gotten over the abortion.

Misley also alleges in the lawsuit that Tyler's discussion of their time together in his autobiography and memoir "imposed involuntary infamy" on her while reframing his years of abuse as a "romantic, loving relationship," according to EW.

Her 2011 blog post specifically references what she calls "distortions of our time together" and notes that his alleged misrepresentations were "painful."

"His continued gross exaggeration of our relationship is puzzling to me," she wrote. "He has talked of me as a sex object without any human dignity. I have made a point over these long years never to speak of him, yet he has repeatedly humiliated me in print."

Her lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. Tyler's lawyers did not respond to outlets requesting comment in December or since Wednesday.

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