Steven Tyler will have a hard time overcoming his own words in the child sexual assault lawsuit he faces, experts say
A woman sued Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, alleging he sexually assaulted her when she was a minor.
Legal experts say evidence from Tyler's own memoir will likely be used against him in court.
The evidence against him is unusually compelling, experts say, leaving him an uphill battle.
Legal experts say the lawsuit against Steven Tyler for alleged sexual abuse is an unusual one — and one in which his accuser, Julia Misley, will be able to use his own words against him.
The fact that Misley's lawsuit is even making it to court without being settled is uncommon, they say. And so is Misley's long history of speaking publicly about Tyler's alleged sexual abuse. Combined with words from Tyler's own memoir, it amounts to powerful evidence a jury may find hard to dismiss.
In the final days of the legal "lookback window" for California adults who were sexually abused as children, Misley filed a lawsuit accusing the Aerosmith singer of sexually assaulting her when she was a minor in the 1970s.
In the weeks since, the LA Superior Court has granted approval to formally name Tyler — who was previously characterized as "Defendant Doe 1" — in the lawsuit, and Misley has demanded a jury trial, as well as to be compensated with unspecified damages.
"It's somewhat surprising that it's even in the court system to begin with," Ann Olivarius, an attorney with the firm McAllister Olivarius who frequently represents survivors of sexual assault and harassment, told Insider. "We find that it does tend to be the most powerful men who wish to settle things, and they just don't want this to go on."
Misley alleged in her lawsuit that she was 16 years old when she met Tyler at an Aerosmith concert, and that he "performed various acts of criminal sexual conduct upon" her afterward, all while being aware of her age. She also alleged Tyler was granted guardianship over her, allowing them to live together and travel across state lines, all while Tyler committed sexual assault, sexual battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Misley's allegations are partly corroborated by Tyler himself, who wrote in his memoir of a 16-year-old girl he described as "barely old enough to drive and sexy as hell." Tyler called the 16-year-old his "partner in crimes of passion," and said he "almost took a teen bride."
Tyler also described convincing the 16-year-old's parents to sign over custody papers for their daughter "so I wouldn't get arrested if I took her out of state. I took her on tour with me." As Misley's lawsuit noted, Tyler's memoir even named Misley in the acknowledgments.
Tyler and his legal team have not yet responded to the allegations, either in court or otherwise, and a representative for the singer did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Tyler likely 'could have ended this if he wanted to'
Experts agreed Tyler's recounting of the relationship was a shocking piece of evidence. Child sexual abuse allegations — particularly those involving decades-old allegations — can be difficult to prove due to the lack of physical evidence, but Misley's allegations have the makings of a convincing case.
"That statement is absolutely something they can use to cross-examine him in court," said Debra Greenberger, a New York attorney whose firm handled many cases under New York's Child Victims Act, including two cases that will soon head to trial.
The vast majority of child sexual abuse cases — including those filed under laws like California's and New York's Child Victims Act that grant temporary windows to sue over years- or decades-old allegations — never make it to a courtroom, let alone a trial, Olivarius said. Instead, most cases are quietly settled between both parties' lawyers.
Even Virginia Giuffre's high-profile sexual abuse case against Prince Andrew, filed under New York's Child Victims Act, was ultimately settled, though Andrew is reportedly seeking to overturn the settlement.
Greenberger said there are generally two possibilities when it comes to strong claims of sexual assault that make it to court: either the parties' attorneys couldn't come to an agreement over a private settlement first, or the accuser is demanding a "public reckoning" over the alleged abuse, and doesn't wish to privately settle.
"He's got an admission on record. So he's obviously proud of it," Olivarius said. "He could have ended this if he wanted to. And he hasn't done that."
Greenberger also said Misley will likely be able to use the oldness of her allegations to her advantage, rather than her detriment. Greenberger said survivors who can describe the way their abusers have altered the trajectory of their lives, over a period of decades, are often in a much better position to sway a jury to their side than survivors who have recently experienced abuse.
"It's very powerful for the jury to hear and to think about compensation when they're realizing the impact of this abuse is not light. It's not something that leaves after a month or even a year or two," Greenberger said. "It's lifelong, and it's decades later that the survivors can testify really powerfully about grave impact of child sexual abuse."
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