Former Webster PR Employee Says Some Alleged Sexual Assault Victims ‘Were Paid Off’
As more victims have come forward with allegations of sexual assault against Nashville publicist Kirt Webster, a former employee of Webster PR says that some of Webster's alleged victims were offered cash in exchange for their silence.
A former bookkeeper for Webster's public relations firm tells the Tennessean that Webster PR had paid settlements to multiple individuals in an effort to keep Webster's inappropriate behavior out of the public eye.
“I’ve sat in meetings where people were paid off to be quiet and we signed non-disclosures to never speak about the stuff that they had done to them,” the employee claims. “There are people that did speak up, did come forward, and they were paid off and they went away.”
Shortly after former country artist Austin Rick shared his own account of Webster's alleged sexual abuse, Webster PR announced Webster's departure from the company "to focus on combating the egregious and untrue allegations made against him." At that time, it was announced that the company would re-brand as Westby PR, and that "[t]he company's work on behalf of its clients will continue under the leadership of Jeremy Westby, Kirt's longstanding colleague." A number of the PR firm's clients have severed ties with the company.
While Rick can't file criminal charges against Webster because the statute of limitations has expired, he could pursue relief in civil court. However, some other alleged encounters fall within the eight-year time limit, so those victims could pursue criminal suits.
A former employee tells the Tennessean that Webster PR had no internal human relations department, and that Webster had told employees to direct any complaints to his assistant. According to legal experts, failing to "proactively prevent a harassing environment" could open Webster up to a lawsuit.