Nashville Publicist Kirt Webster Hints at Return After Sexual Harassment and Assault Allegations
Kirt Webster — who built an empire as one of country music's most influential publicists before resigning his own company in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault in 2017 — has launched a new website and hinted that he's returning to work.
Webster has launched a new website that touts his career achievements, and he tells Nashville's Tennessean newspaper that "things and projects are happening already."
"With the advent of news from the fall of 2017, you might ask: 'What's next for Kirt Webster?' Be assured it will be visionary, unexpected, larger than life, and filled with newsworthy answers to that very question," his new website reads.
Webster built a career over several decades as one of Nashville's biggest power brokers, whose client list boasted country icons including Charlie Daniels, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, the Oak Ridge Boys and more, as well as younger acts including Justin Moore, Kid Rock and others.
He stepped down from Webster Public Relations and shuttered the business in 2017, after the Nashville Scene broke explosive allegations from former aspiring country singer Austin Rick, who performed under the name Austin Cody. The singer alleged that Webster had sexually assaulted him over a period of two years, intimidated him into accepting oral sex and more by holding his career future over his head. Rick says it ended with an instance in which he was drugged at a party at Webster's home and woke up in Webster's bed with the publicist hugging and kissing him, after which the then-21-year-old left Nashville and abandoned his country career.
Within days of Rick's initial allegation, more than a dozen of Webster's former employees stepped forward to paint a picture of what they said was Webster's well-known penchant for sexual predation. They described a man who routinely employed young people straight out of college who had no work experience or economic or social power, then subjected them to a range of alleged abuses, from daily verbal humiliation to outright sexual assault in a hostile work environment that many Nashville insiders refer to as "publicist boot camp."
One former staffer described it to Taste of Country as "the most difficult job I've ever had," while another called working for Webster "the darkest period of my life," calling his office a "very hostile work environment. It was just toxic ... 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."
Webster ultimately faced no charges in Austin Rick's allegations after police concluded the statute of limitations had passed, and it has been rumored over the past year that he was involved in various projects, though never announced publicly.
"Contrary to speculation, I have never gone anywhere," Webster tells the Tennessean. "I am alive and still living in Nashville, Tennessee. I am blessed to have many friends in the music business, many whom have opened their hearts and businesses to me."
"It's been an interesting 15 months," he adds. "Always remember, haters will hate no matter what the reality is. I am living life to its fullest and helping a lot of people along the way."
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