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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – One of the best known publicists in Nashville is stepping away from his company to fight allegations of sex assault.
Kirt Webster faces accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct from a former client, an aspiring country singer.
Austin Rick, whose stage name was Austin Cody, wrote on Facebook last Friday he was introduced to Webster when he moved to Nashville at the age of 18.
Rick alleges Webster victimized and sexually assaulted him, saying the publicist offered him publicity in exchange for sexual acts and further threatened to ruin his career to keep him from telling anyone.
In his Facebook post, Rick wrote:
In 2008, Kirt Webster, the CEO of the powerful “Webster Public Relations” did terrible, terrible things to me. 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.
News 2 also learned Metro police is trying to reach Rick regarding his allegations. Police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford says, “We do not have any complaints about Webster. But we are reaching out to the alleged victim to see if he would like to make a report. We are encouraging anyone who feels they’re a victim of any sex crime to report to Metro police.”
Webster denies the allegations in a statement released Tuesday. It says, “As a single adult, Mr. Webster has had multiple relationships over the course of his professional life, all of which have been consensual. This includes a brief relationship with Mr. Rick. It saddens Mr. Webster that nine years later, after Mr. Rick’s music career has been stagnant, Mr. Rick has taken the opportunistic approach of mischaracterizing that relationship and posting untrue allegations.”
After the allegations came to light Tuesday, the Webster Public Relations website was taken over by a statement saying the company was “no longer in business” effective Nov. 1, but later Tuesday, it was clarified the company is not shutting down but now operating under a new name.
Earlier today, it was mistakenly posted on the Webster Public Relations’ website that the firm has been closed. This was stated incorrectly. Webster Public Relations will continue operating – but under the name Westby Public Relations – while Kirt Webster takes some time away from the business to focus on combating the egregious and untrue allegations made against him. The company’s work on behalf of its clients will continue under the leadership of Jeremy Westby, Kirt’s longstanding colleague.
Webster has represented some legendary artists such as Dolly Parton and Charlie Daniels, along with Conway Twitty, Brenda Lee, Hank Williams Jr, Kenny Rogers, and KC and the Sunshine Band. Some of his clients include Tootsie’s, Rippy’s, and Tequila Cowboy.
Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys says, “Kirt has been a good friend who has helped us a lot and I am very sad for him at this time.”
As part of the fallout of the allegations, News 2 learned Aaron Lewis, formerly of Staind, left Webster on Tuesday following the allegations. Kid Rock’s record label also confirms Webster no longer represents him as of Wednesday.