Nashville Firm Webster PR to Change Name After CEO Accused of Sexual Assault

Kirt Webster of Webster Public Relations denies “egregious and untrue” allegations by former country singer Austin Rick

Kirt Webster
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Webster Public Relations will change its name and CEO Kirt Webster will step down after being accused of sexual assault by a former client.

The head of the Nashville-based PR firm, whose client list includes Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and Kid Rock, was first accused of assault by former country singer Austin Rick in a Facebook post on Friday.

The singer, who performed under the stage name Austin Cody, wrote that Webster “sexually assaulted me repeatedly, he drugged and sexually violated me, he offered me publicity opportunities and magazine columns in exchange for sexual acts.” The alleged abuse took place in 2008 when he was 18, shortly after he moved to Nashville to pursue a music career.

“I trusted him completely, and he wanted to make me a star just long enough to sexually molest and abuse me,” Rick said in an interview with the Nashville Scene published on Wednesday. “And I remember one time he told me, ‘I want there to be fireworks in your career, but only if there’s fireworks between us.’ And that was like pretty early on in our relationship.”

In a statement through a spokesperson, Webster denied the allegations and said his “brief relationship” with Rick was consensual. “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,” the statement said.

On Wednesday, Billboard reported that the website for Webster PR appeared to say that the company was “no longer in business,” but a spokesperson later clarified that the notice was posted by mistake. The company will instead be renamed for Senior Vice President Jeremy Westby as Webster “takes some time away.”

“Earlier today, it was mistakenly posted on the Webster Public Relations’ website that the firm has been closed. This was stated incorrectly,” the statement said. “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.”