One day after multiple women accused Ryan Adams of abuse, the FBI has reportedly opened an investigation into whether the singer had inappropriate contact with a minor. According to the New York Times, which broke the story, the FBI has taken the first steps of opening a criminal investigation into Adams based on allegations made in the original Times piece that he exchanged sexually explicit messages with a girl identified as Ava when she was between 14 and 16 years old (when Adams was around 40). Per the Times, sexually exploiting a child under 18 is a federal offense: “a violator [is defined as] anyone who ‘persuades, induces, entices or coerces any minor to engage in’ a visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct.”
According to the texts viewed by the Times, Adams routinely coerced Ava to tell him she was 18 and instructed her to keep their messages private, comparing how the messages would be perceived to the R. Kelly allegations. In one message, he appeared to ask her for sexually suggestive photos and referred to her body parts with “pet names.” Ava claimed that the first time they Skyped, he was naked when he answered; the two never met in person. In a statement from his lawyer, Adams denied that he “ever engaged in inappropriate online sexual communications with someone he knew was underage,” pointing to photos in which he believes Ava looked “approximately 20” at the time of the alleged texts.
The Times reports that the FBI will seek to interview Ava, now 20, and obtain the messages in question as well as any other evidence; both her and Adams’s cell phone records could also be subpoenaed. The agents will also seek to interview Ava’s friends and family to corroborate her allegations. A lawyer for Ava declined to comment to the Times about the FBI investigation, as did an FBI spokesperson. Adams’s lawyer tells the Times that he has not been contacted by law enforcement but gave no further comment.