Police: No Charges Against Kirt Webster After Sexual Assault Claim
Nashville's Metro Police will not pursue sexual assault charges against prominent country music publicist Kirt Webster due to an expired statute of limitations.
Nashville's Tennessean newspaper reported Thursday (Nov. 2) that Webster will not face criminal charges after former country singer Austin Rick alleged that the powerful Music City executive sexually assaulted him multiple times from 2007-2008, when he was a client of Webster's while pursuing a singing career under the name Austin Cody.
"The conversation with this individual contained allegations that cannot be acted upon from a criminal standpoint due to the number of years that have elapsed," reads a statement from police. "The statute of limitations would not allow for the allegations from this individual to move forward."
The statute of limitations for a sex crime violation is eight years, Metro police spokesman Don Aaron says.
Rick has alleged that Webster forced oral sex on him, fondled him, asked him to sit on his lap while he watched hardcore pornography and drugged and assaulted him during the period they worked together. Webster has denied the allegations in a statement, but on Wednesday (Nov. 1) he announced that he was stepping down from Webster PR and that the firm would become Westby PR under the direction of former Senior Vice President Jeremy Westby. On Thursday, Westby told Variety that he is starting over with a whole new firm.
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The announcement Thursday doesn't mean that Webster is in the clear. Rick could still file a civil suit, and the Nashville Scene, which originally reported his explosive allegations against Webster, reports that another young singer has come forward with claims similar to Rick's. Those events allegedly took place in 2016.
More than a dozen former employees of Webster's have come forward in the days since Rick's allegations went public, sharing their own horror stories while in Webster's employ that returned again and again to the theme that Webster liked to hire young people out of college who had little power and no other workplace experience to compare his office to. Taste of Country spoke to a number of ex-staffers who portrayed Webster PR as a culture of emotional and verbal abuse in which wildly inappropriate behavior and sexual assault were commonplace, with one calling his tenure there "the darkest period of my life."
Former Webster PR intern Cody Andersen tells Fox News that after Webster found out Andersen was transgender, 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.’” He alleges Webster frequently used sexually explicit language in the workplace and asked him to join him in the hot tub naked, and repeated complaints to human resources were unresolved.
He's the only accuser besides Rick who has revealed his identity so far, with sources citing fear of retaliation from the powerful executive as their reason. One former employee tells us people were so cowed by Webster that they feared he might have them followed, and another stressed repeatedly to Taste of Country that their identity could never be divulged, saying, "I am honestly afraid for my reputation, even my life, if he's not convicted."
Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, the Oak Ridge Boys, Billy Ray Cyrus, William Michael Morgan, Aaron Lewis, Kenny G, Big & Rich and more top stars have left Webster PR's client roster in the days since the news of Rick's allegations broke.
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