The burgeoning cascade of sexual harassment charges being leveled against entertainment industry professionals looks to have enveloped someone prominent in the Nashville country and bluegrass scene.
Kirt Webster, whose Webster Public Relations agency represents a number of familiar bluegrass acts, has been accused by a young man named Austin Rick of drugging and sexually violating him over several months about nine years ago. He further alleges that Webster had been paying him to stay silent about this.
Webster admits to a relationship with Rick but insists it was completely consensual, and denies the more prurient allegations of abuse.
When we contacted the agency this evening, they shared this statement…
“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.”
Austin has launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for what he expects will be a legal battle with Webster over these charges.
News4 TV in Nashville says that they have spoken to a former Webster employee who raises similar charges.
Webster PR represents a large number of clients, including country and pop superstars Dolly Parton and Charlie Daniels, and bluegrass artists like Rhonda Vincent, Carolina Road, Nu-Blu, and Bradley Walker. In the past, Webster had brought suit against The Grascals when they left the agency in 2012.
We have reached out to his bluegrass clients but have received no comment to date.
UPDATE 11:00 p.m. – We just heard from Nu-Blu, who offer support for Kirt.
“Kirt has not only been our publicist since 2013, but also our friend. He has opened many doors for us, providing not only countless firsts for Nu-Blu, but also many firsts for the bluegrass genre. We now support him as he has continually supported and believed in us. That’s what friends do.”
Daniel and Carolyn Routh, Nu-Blu