Dolly Parton has come under fire from the country singer who has accused her disgraced former publicist of sexual misconduct.
Austin Rick is among many former clients who have accused Nashville, Tennessee PR guru Kirt Webster of inappropriate behaviour, forcing the publicist to shut down his agency, Webster PR.
Rick alleged Webster performed oral sex on him and drugged him, so he could assault him at a party.
Dolly, who was one of Webster’s biggest clients, has yet to attack the publicist for his alleged actions, releasing nothing but a statement that reads: “I’ve worked with Kirt Webster for many years and he has done a wonderful job. I am hoping that the accusations are not true.”
Rick is appalled Parton hasn’t gone further, insisting her remarks merely suggest she hopes he’s lying about his encounter with Webster.
“For all the good she’s done during her career, it’s ironic to me that she draws her morality line at sexual abuse,” he writes in a letter published by the Nashville Scene. “Apparently that’s not important enough for Dolly to want to get to the bottom of.
“The only comment she’s given is to say that she hopes I’m a liar. She hopes that myself and Kirt’s at least 24 other victims are all conspiring to peddle terrible falsehoods – all so that she doesn’t have to think any differently about her ‘friend’ – who has been maliciously exploiting her all along to get his twisted jollies off.”
Rick also urges other musicians and executives to take sex crimes in the industry more seriously and face them head on, adding, “I’m p**sed off – both at what happened to me and at the shameful industry response to it. A few white roses and a song or two, while probably 100 per cent well-intentioned, aren’t going to cut it.
“Everything stems from the top, and by that I mean Music Row – label heads, publishing execs, CMA (Country Music Association) and ACM (Academy of Country Music) directors and board members. These women and men need to step up and start speaking explicitly about this issue. Until this occurs, there’s no opening for long-term culture change.”
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