Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers among stars dropping PR agency after sexual assault allegation
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) — Several artists, including Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, have apparently dropped Webster Public Relations as their agency after the company’s founder Kirt Webster was accused by a former artist of sexual assault.
Artists such as Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Kid Rock, Billy Ray Cyrus, Big & Rich, Bill Anderson and Kenny G have dropped the company as their publicist, according to a check of artists posted on the Webster Public Relations website.
Artists who have been removed from the site – as of 10:45 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2 – since the allegations were reported are Aaron Lewis, Big & Rich, Bill Anderson, Billy Ray Cyrus, Cyndi Lauper, Deborah Allen, Denny Strickland, Dolly Parton, Don McLean, Gene Watson, Hank Williams Jr., Jeannie Seely, Jimmy Fortune, John Conlee, Johnny Lee, KC and the Sunshine Band, Kenny G, Kid Rock, Keifer Sutherland, Lacy J. Dalton, Lee Greenwood, Leroy Van Dyke, Locash, Lucas Hoge, Moe Bandy, Olivia Lane, Roy Clark, Sam Moore, Sylvia, Tanya Tucker, The Oak Ridge Boys, Tim Rushlow, Wanda Jackson and William Michael Morgan.
On Wednesday Webster Public Relations had announced its closing with this statement on its website.
Later in the day, the agency released a statement.
Earlier (Wednesday), 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 long standing colleague.
In a Facebook post last Friday, a man has accused Webster of sexually assaulting him in 2008. In a statement to News 4 on Tuesday, Webster denies the allegations.
“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 Rick claimed he was drugged and sexually assaulted. Rick said Webster offered him publicity opportunities and magazine coverage in exchange for the sexual acts.
Rick claims Webster paid him to stay quiet and threatened he would make it so nobody in the country music industry ever heard his name again.
At the time, Rick was an aspiring country music artist who opened for big names and once performed at the Grand Ole Opry.
Webster has not been charged with a crime, and one legal analyst said it’s unlikely he could face charges stemming from Rick’s allegations.
“The question is what can the law do about this after so many years?” said defense attorney David Raybin.