Another Artist, Former Webster PR Staff Make New Allegations Against Kirt Webster
A second aspiring country artist, as well as numerous former Webster PR staff members, have spoken out following Austin Rick's sexual misconduct allegations against Kirt Webster. Some describe a toxic work environment at the Nashville PR firm, while others report more vulgar behavior and unwanted sexual advances.
Nashville's Tennessean newspaper, Taste of Country and the Nashville Scene -- the latter of which originally broke Rick's story on Tuesday (Oct. 31) -- have all published stories detailing accounts from ex-Webster PR employees, both men and women. In all three stories, the employees asked to remain anonymous due to fear of retribution.
“There was so much verbal and emotional abuse. I witnessed some of the worst behavior you can imagine,” one woman tells the Tennessean. A male former employee tells Taste of Country, "There was plenty of groping going on, I'll tell you that -- butt grabbing, that sort of thing. Kinda chuckling about it. It was a common occurrence."
One former Webster PR staff member shares with the Tennessean that Webster had "bragg[ed]" about "tak[ing] advantage of" Webster PR client Dolly Parton's gay fan base, exchanging sexual favors for meet and greets and sharing photographs in the office. Others claim to Taste of Country that Webster's behavior had gone on in front of clients; The Boot has reached out to some of the artists listed on Webster PR's client list, but as of publication time, none had responded or responded on the record.
On Wednesday (Nov. 1), Webster left his namesake company "to focus on combating the egregious and untrue allegations made against him." Webster PR has re-branded as Westby PR, and according to a statement sent to media, "the company's work on behalf of its clients will continue under the leadership of Jeremy Westby, Kirt's longstanding colleague." However, numerous artists have since severed ties with the firm.
Webster PR's re-branding and Webster's departure came than 24 hours after ex-country artist Rick accused Webster of sexually molesting and abusing him, paying Rick to keep quiet and threatening to sabotage Rick's career if he didn't in the late 2000s. In a statement via a spokesperson, Webster denies Rick's claims, noting that Webster, "as a single adult ... has had multiple relationships over the course of his professional life, all of which have been consensual ... includ[ing] a brief relationship with Mr. Rick."
For their second story on the situation, however, the Scene spoke with another male singer who claims Webster displayed toward him behavior similar to that which Rick describes. The artist alleges that Webster coerced him into sexual situations numerous times; the last incident occurred in Webster's office.
"He said to pull my pants down. I said, ‘Kirt, I’m tired of doing this,’ and he’s like, ‘If you’re not going to work with me, I’m not going to work with you.’ And I was like, ‘I really don’t want to make a music career doing things like this, it’s embarrassing,'" the artist recounts to the Scene. "He wanted to give me a blow job, and he kept going on and on, and I let him that night. And that was the last time. And I haven’t seen him since.”
Although Rick cannot press criminal charges due to a statute of limitations, others who have made allegations could, and he could still file a civil lawsuit.