Thursday, November 2, 2017
– Webster Public Relations has lost many clients, including Kid Rock, Dolly Parton and Billy Ray Cyrus, in the wake of allegations that Kirt Webster, who headed the firm, engaged in sexual misconduct.
Webster, a key player in the country music PR field, was accused by a former client Austin Rick, who performed as Austin Cody, of sexually forcing himself on the young singer about nine years ago. Webster also was accused by unnamed staffers in published reports of operating a toxic work space and inappropriate touching and comments by others.
The Tennessean reported today that a total of 13 people have brought accusations against Webster. The newspaper said that three more people came forward in the past day, including a former household contractor who claimed that Webster molested him during a job interview in 2009, a former office manager who claimed Webster twice groped him in 2014 and a former personal assistant who alleged he was subject to unwanted touching and verbal abuse in 2015.
Rick went public on Oct. 27 on Facebook with a detailed account leveled at Webster that he engaged in pressured and unwanted sexual relations. Rick said, "He sexually assaulted me repeatedly, he drugged and sexually violated me, he offered me publicity opportunities and magazine columns in exchange for sexual acts. He paid me to keep my mouth shut. And he did everything under threat that he'd make sure nobody in the industry ever heard my name again. It took me a year to escape from him and get away to where he couldn't find me or reach me any longer - although he still continued to harass me via phone and text messages." Webster denied the allegations.
In a post on her Twitter account Thursday night, Parton said, "I've worked with Kirt Webster for many years and he has done a wonderful job. I am hoping that the accusations are not true."
The USA Today Network reported that Webster "traded explicit photographs of individuals and sexual favors for passes to meet-and-greet sessions with Parton."
Webster PR's web site no longer lists any clients with which it is working. There are news articles about Kenny Rogers, the Bellamy Brothers, Parton and Cyrus from earlier this week.
Webster's name has been excised from the web site itself, and while the site listed staffers yesterday, it no longer does today.
Other Webster clients included Big & Rich, Aaron Lewis, Janie Fricke, Hank Williams Jr., Bill Anderson, Crystal Gayle, Deborah Allen, Don McLean, Jeannie Seely, Jimmy Fortune, John Conlee, KC and the Sunshine Band, Kenny G, Locash, Lucas Hoge, Olivia Lane, Sam Moore, The Oak Ridge Boys, Tim Rushlow, William Michael Morgan, Wanda Jackson and Randy Travis.
In the wake of the allegations by Rich, Webster was said to be taking a leave from the company, which was being rebranded as Westby PR. Jeremy Westby worked at Webster PR.
On its web site, Westby listed its clients as The Oak Ridge Boys, Roy Clark, KC & the Sunshine Band, Kenny G, Allen, McLean, Conlee, Jackson, Moore, Hoge , Jackson and NRA Country.
Cyrus is now with Adkins Publicity, just launched by Scott Adkins, who had worked for Webster as a vice president.
Megan Gill, who works at Webster, acknowledged in an email that she was no longer working with Cyrus, but did not answer a question about who she is working with.
Rick has launched a GoFundMe campaign for legal and PR purposes as he has said he is expecting Webster to file a civil suit against him.
Police said on Thursday they would not pursue charges against Webster due to a statue of limitations, according to The Tennessean.