A woman who claims to have had an illicit relationship with Steven Tyler in the Seventies when she was a minor has filed a lawsuit against the Aerosmith singer, accusing him of sexual assault, sexual battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit was filed following California legislation that temporarily waived statutes of limitations for childhood sexual abuse allegations.
In the suit filed in Los Angeles and obtained by Rolling Stone, the plaintiff Julia Holcomb alleges that Tyler convinced Holcomb’s mother to grant him guardianship over her when she was 16 years old, which consequently allowed her to live with him and engage in a sexual relationship. She claims they were together from 1973 until about three years later. The suit itself doesn’t name Tyler, naming the defendants as Defendant Doe 1 and Does 2 through 50. But Holcomb — who Rolling Stone mentioned in a 1976 profile of the band in reference to Tyler’s romantic life — has been public about her experience with Tyler in the past, and the lawsuit directly quotes from Tyler’s own memoir. In his book, without stating a name, Tyler similarly says he “almost took a teen bride” and that “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.”
In the suit, Holcomb alleges that she “was powerless to resist” Tyler’s “power, fame and substantial financial ability, and that Tyler “coerced and persuaded Plaintiff into believing this was a ‘romantic love affair’”. Holcomb alleges that she met Tyler (who would’ve been 25 at the time of their meeting) just after her 16th birthday when Aerosmith played a concert in Portland, Oregon, in 1973. Tyler, according to the suit, took Holcomb back to his hotel room, where they discussed Holcomb’s age. After he allegedly asked why she was out all night by herself, Tyler and Holcomb talked about her troubles at home. He then “performed various acts of criminal sexual conduct upon” her before sending her home in a taxi the next morning, the lawsuit states.
Tyler also allegedly bought Holcomb her own plane ticket to his next Aerosmith show in Seattle since she was a minor and could not legally travel with him across state lines, the suit says. After the Seattle show, Tyler allegedly performed more sexual acts on her, and Holcomb flew back to Portland the next morning.
By 1974, as the suit alleges, Tyler convinced Holcomb’s mother to allow him to become her guardian, which would allow him to more easily travel with her without criminal prosecution — a timeline that matches Tyler’s own comments from his 2011 memoir. Tyler allegedly told Holcomb’s mother he would provide better support than she was getting at home, promising to enroll her in school and give her medical care. Tyler “did not meaningfully follow through on these promises and instead continued to travel with, assault and provide alcohol and drugs to Plaintiff,” the suit claims.
Holcomb further alleges that she was pregnant with Tyler’s son in 1975 when she was 17 years old but got an abortion after Tyler insisted she terminate the pregnancy following an apartment fire. In making the argument, he cited smoke inhalation and lack of oxygen to the baby. Though the suit claims a medical professional told her the unborn baby was not harmed by the fire.
According to the lawsuit, Holcomb was hesitant about going through with the abortion, but Tyler had threatened to stop supporting her if she didn’t proceed with the procedure. After the abortion, she allegedly left Tyler and went back to Portland to change her life. She became a devout Catholic, met her husband, and buried her previous experiences with Tyler until he wrote about them in his book.
Holcomb says in the suit that her life was further disrupted with the publication of Tyler’s memoir, which, without Holcomb’s consent, referenced his time with an underage girl and subjected her to “involuntary infamy” while framing the alleged abuse as a “romantic, loving relationship,” the suit says. Tyler has also spoken of a relationship with an underage girl both in his own memoir and in Aerosmith’s autobiography. The Aerosmith autobiography, published in 1997, references the relationship, the apartment fire, and abortion, but Tyler refers to the girl as Diana and said she was 14 at the time they met. In his memoir, however, he says she was 16, and he writes about the fire but not the abortion. In the suit, Holcomb says she’s mentioned in the memoir’s acknowledgments which further removed her anonymity. (The book’s acknowledgments include Julia Halcomb, which could be a misspelling of her name.)
“She was sixteen, she knew how to nasty, and there wasn’t a hair on it,” Tyler wrote in his memoir before saying he became the girl’s guardian to avoid getting arrested if he took her out of state before detailing their sexual endeavors a few pages later. “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. She was a cute skinny little tomboy dressed up as Little Bo Peep. She was my heart’s desire, my partner in crimes of passion.”
The lawsuit isn’t the first time Holcomb has shared these details about her alleged experience with Tyler. Prior to the complaint, she detailed many of the same allegations in 2011 for the far-right, anti-abortion website Lifesitenews, and she has gone on programs like Tucker Carlson’s show to share her experience as fodder against pro-choice advocacy. Holcomb also spoke of the experience in the 2021 documentary Look Away, which focused on sexual abuse in rock music culture.
“I became lost in a rock and roll culture. In Steven’s world it was sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but it seemed no less chaotic than the world I left behind. I didn’t know it yet, but I would barely make it out alive,” Holcomb wrote in 2011. “I could not believe he was even asking me to have an abortion at this stage. He spent over an hour pressing me to go ahead and have the abortion. He said that I was too young to have a baby and it would have brain damage because I had been in the fire and taken drugs. ”
Holcomb’s suit comes in the final days of California’s Child Victims Act, a 2019 piece of legislation that lifted the statute of limitations and granted a three-year lookback period for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to come forward with their allegations. The deadline to file a lawsuit is December 31, 2022.
A rep for Tyler did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
New York has similar legislation with the Adult Survivors Act, giving New Yorkers a year to file lawsuits over sexual misconduct they allegedly experienced in adulthood, regardless of when the claimed incident occurred. Since taking effect last month, two women have accused the late record executive Ahmet Ertegun of sexual assault in the 1980s and 1990s. California also passed legislation lifting the statute of limitations on adult sexual abuse cases for a year starting on January 1st, 2023.