More Alleged Victims Come Forward With Kirt Webster Sexual Assault Claims
Days after a former aspiring country singer made sexual assault allegations against one of Nashville's most prominent executives, several more alleged victims have come forward to share their stories.
Austin Rick was just 21 when he moved to Nashville in 2007 to pursue a country music career, and after meeting and beginning to work with Kirt Webster, he alleges the powerful Nashville publicist who headed up Webster PR repeatedly sexually assaulted him while threatening his career to get him to stay silent.
Now a former Webster PR employee has come forward to share his own stories of what he says was sexually harassment by Webster after he was given an internship in 2010. Then 26, Cody Andersen thought at first that Webster had taken a special interest in him because of his work ethic, but tells Fox News that after he revealed that he is transgender, things turned "uncomfortable."
“After I told him I was trans, he told me he was gay,” Andersen recalls. “And one day he followed me [into] the bathroom and he was like, ‘Do you want to?’ I was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘F--k.’ And I was like, ‘No, no.’”
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Andersen adds that Webster spoke openly in a sexually graphic way, boasting that he owned a 24-carat gold sex toy and telling sexually explicit stories about employees. He also says he spoke to Webster's human resources department more than once after Webster asked him to get in a hot tub with him naked, but his complaints got no results.
Three more former employees spoke to Nashville's Tennessean under the condition of anonymity. One household contractor says Webster sexually assaulted him during a job interview in 2009, and a former office manager alleges the executive groped him twice in 2014. A former assistant personal assistant also claims he was subject to inappropriate touching and verbal abuse. The Tennessean has spoken to 13 different people who have shared stories about Webster in the days since Rick's allegations became public.
Taste of Country also spoke to a number of former Webster employees, who portrayed his office as a "toxic environment" in which verbal humiliation was a constant and sexual assault was commonplace.
"It was the darkest period of my life," one man told us, adding, "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."
"After I would go to the salon, I'd be on the plane with high-profile clients and he'd say, 'Oh, did you get a Brazillian wax today on your vagina?'" a female former staffer says. "He would grab me by the hair and air hump me, he would caress me."
The Nashville Scene has spoken to another young aspiring country artist who alleges that Webster sexually assaulted him in a manner very similar to Rick's allegations. Webster has denied Rick's charges. On Wednesday (Nov. 1), it was announced he was stepping down from the firm and that Senior Vice President Jeremy Westby would be continuing the business as Westby Public Relations.
Austin Rick was openly skeptical about that move in an interview with Taste of Country, calling Westby "Kirt’s yes man. Kirt isn’t leaving Jeremy in charge. Not for one second. Kirt Webster doesn’t relinquish anything, ever. This is a facade wherein Kirt runs everything vicariously through Jeremy, while attempting to alter the optics of a failed enterprise."
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