NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The lawyer for a former country music artist says she’s prepared to help him seek justice against publicist Kirt Webster.
“He’s Nashville’s Harvey Weinstein, and it’s very disturbing to me,” said attorney Rose Palermo. “If these allegations made against him are sustained, they are reprehensible and he doesn’t need to be in Nashville.”
Last week, her client Austin Rick, who once performed under the name Austin Cody, wrote on Facebook that Webster sexually assaulted him and offered publicity in exchange for sexual acts early in his career.
Since then, Webster has denied the allegations, saying he and Rick had a consensual relationship.
But Webster has stepped down from his public relations firm and many big-name stars who have worked with him have parted ways with the publicist, including Dolly Parton and Kid Rock.
Palermo says since Rick came forward, she has received calls from multiple people with similar stories surrounding Webster.
“When other people come out and you realize that you’re not the only one that’s been a victim, it gives you the strength to come forward and say ‘me too’,” she said.
Since Rick’s accusations stem from 2008, a criminal case can’t be pursued. Metro police say the statute of limitations has passed.
We asked Palermo why Rick waited so long to come forward.
“He had a lot of emotional problems as a direct result of what happened to him,” Palermo said. “Austin Rick has one goal and it’s why he came forward: he wants to make sure no one is put through what he’s been put through.
“He’s been put through hell and back as a result of this. He was an impressionable young man when he moved to Nashville to try to be in the music business and the things that happened were so distressful that it’s caused him a lot of problems in his life.”
No lawsuits have been filed against Webster. We reached out to Webster’s attorney but haven’t heard back.