When TikTok singer Olivia McCraw met up with popular cover artist Rodger Cleye in her home state of Maryland, she thought it would be a fun opportunity to sing with a wildly popular TikTok creator. She’d responded to a TikTok Live in which he offered a free ticket to see Taylor Swift; then, he DM’d her saying the ticket was no longer available, but asked if he could visit her and sing together instead.
“I had been a big fan of his and I always thought he was just so funny. I really wasn’t expecting him to respond,” McCraw tells Rolling Stone. “He just kept talking about how beautiful I was and everything. Eventually, the conversation went back and forth and he said, ‘I would love to get to know you. Would it be possible for me to fly down [to see you] and sing together?”
She agreed. A few days later, the two sang together on TikTok Live from Cleye’s hotel room, broadcasting to his 3 million followers.
During the live stream, which is no longer available, Cleye and McCraw sat close together to fit into the frame of the camera, and as they sang, people in the comments began asking who she was. A girlfriend? Cleye’s daughter? An Instagram post Cleye had made earlier in the night confused fans even further: a selfie of the two of them next to each other captioned “So beautiful… and the landscape aint bad either.’”
Amid growing rumors, both Cleye, 58, and McCraw, 19, denied that anything romantic was going on. “You should be ashamed of yourselves,” Cleye wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post. “Singing is not a crime at any age.” But according to McCraw, what she saw as an opportunity for a friendly collaboration between TikTok artists ended in unwanted come-ons, harassment, and a wave of internet shaming that made her feel discombobulated, overwhelmed, and guilty.
“I’m reading comments here and there and I’m blaming myself,” McCraw says. “I know I shouldn’t, but I am, and I feel guilty, just because I put myself in that situation. And I’m just overwhelmed.”
While Cleye isn’t a household name, he is a popular creator on TikTok with 3.1 million followers, best known for his amateur covers of popular songs. Late last year, he also became the face of a viral point-of-view trend on the app, where viewers would superimpose a video of him singing (sometimes off-key) songs into relatable situations to represent being unbothered: like staying up late on a school night or fantasizing about a boy on vacation you only made momentary eye contact with. In a 2022 interview with Rolling Stone, Cleye said that he continued his TikTok account — sometimes posting between four and 10 videos a day — because his viral fame exposed him to new songs and new people.
But while that same wholesome energy inspired McCraw to first comment on one of Cleye’s live streams, that’s not what she says she encountered when they met. Instead, she details the in-person meeting last week in Maryland that she said left her feeling “scared” and intimidated. According to McCraw, Cleye went to the bathroom with the door open and changed his background to a photo of them he had taken hours earlier.
“I was just like, ‘Okay, that’s a little weird,’” McCraw tells Rolling Stone. “I probably should have been like, ‘Hey, I gotta go,’ or something like that. But I felt like that was disrespectful for me as he’s came all the way up here and is giving me the opportunity to sing.”
But during the live stream, McCraw says she got even more uncomfortable when Cleye began to touch and rub her back. According to McCraw, she moved away, but it continued. And when she went to leave at the end of the night, he kissed her. McCraw says she kissed him back because she felt obligated. “I didn’t know, really, what to do,” she says. “I regret it so much.” But after telling Cleye through messages the next day that she was uncomfortable and wouldn’t entertain him any longer, McCraw said the messages started coming in faster — and didn’t stop.
“I would go to bed and then I’d wake up and there would be multiple messages back to back,” McCraw tells Rolling Stone. “He was very angry. I was scared and at times, it was just [a] very uncomfortable experience.”
So she spoke out. In a public four-minute video first shared on TikTok, McCraw described her experience with Cleye, saying she was not trying to ruin his career, but rather wanted to speak her truth. “Please know it is not ok for these things to happen,” she captioned it. “ I have many receipts and videos and am willing to share. I will not utilize slander. I will not hurt someone else. But I will not let someone’s ‘career’ affect me from telling a TRUTH.” The video has 7.2 million views.
In screenshots of messages reviewed by Rolling Stone, Cleye appears to continuously message the 19-year-old, referencing their “relationship,” “age gaps,” and “sugar babies,” and continuing even after McCraw messaged back, “I’m just uncomfortable.”
“In my opinion, the eve we spent together was nothing short of magical,” Cleye writes in one of the messages. “Imagine if that was EVERY day!” According to McCraw, when she declined to start a sexual relationship, the messages increased in frequency and began to take a more aggressive turn, with Cleye accusing her of abandoning him after he came to visit. At one point, Cleye also allegedly took umbrage with her singing on TikTok Live after she told him she was taking a break from the app, accusing McCraw of trying to entrap him because of his fame.
Cleye did not respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment. But in screenshots of now-deleted comments made on both Instagram and TikTok, he claimed that McCraw had tricked him into visiting by lying about her age, saying she was 21 years old. He also said that she was a “desperate” teen mom trying to catfish and manipulate him because of his fame, and was “extremely flirtatious” before he agreed to go visit her — calling her statements “deplorable.” (McCraw says she is not a mother.)
McCraw tells Rolling Stone that in their initial conversations over DMs, she told Cleye she was 21, but clarified that she was 19 when she realized how serious he was about visiting. Following several attempted TikTok Lives on his page, where multiple comments asking about McCraw were deleted as they were posted, the singer deactivated his TikTok account. But on Instagram, he’s continued posting his usual content. Since McCraw’s video, he’s posted four-second covers of “Lies” by Thompson Twins, “Vampire” by Olivia Rodrigo (specifically the line “fame fucker”), and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. Commenting has been disabled on his posts.
While McCraw has seen a wave of support for “speaking her truth,” the concurrent blame and slut-shaming she’s received online has been hard for her. On at least three TikToks she’s posted about her interactions with Cleye, hundreds of comments accuse her of placing herself in the situation. “Just seems like a lonely man to be honest,” one reads. “There’s always that block button but you wanted more out of him.” “He was in the wrong, but so were you by not using common sense.” And at least a dozen comments refer to McCraw’s experience as a lesson about safety that she and other young women should take to heart, most along the lines of another comment left underneath her videos: “Why did you go see a grown ass man in a hotel room?”
McCraw says that while she initially tried to respond to negative comments, the overwhelming amount of them soon left her also blaming herself. “That’s what made me feel all the guilt because I did put myself into this situation,” McCraw says. “But I shouldn’t be put down because of how it made me feel. People should be able to talk about their experiences. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
And while the negative comments, shaming, and ostracizing have continued, McCraw tells Rolling Stone people in her comments willing to stand up for her has helped. “It’s kind of built this wall, where if there is negativity, I have these people that are fighting for me and the [negative comments] can’t get through,” she says. “That really helps me get through the days, knowing that people have my back. I think moving forward, I’m just going to be focusing on my music. This is kind of the end of my posting about everything, but it’s just gonna be my music from now on. Music is like my therapy. It’s been there for me since I can even remember. It’s helped me through every situation, every obstacle that has come my way.”