Billy Ray Cyrus and More Drop Webster PR Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Kirt Webster
Billy Ray Cyrus and more artists are ending their working relationships with Webster PR (now Westby PR) as allegations of sexual misconduct continue to be made against the company's president and CEO, Kirt Webster. Former clients including Cyrus, Dolly Parton, Big & Rich, Justin Moore, Tanya Tucker, Olivia Lane and more have disappeared from the company's website on Thursday (Nov. 2).
More than two dozen acts -- including the aforementioned artists, as well as Bill Anderson, Crystal Gayle, Gene Watson, Hank Williams Jr., Kenny Rogers and more -- have been removed from the list of artists on Webster PR's website. Representatives for Moore, Kid Rock and Lane have officially confirmed that the artists have severed ties with the company; The Boot has reached out to others for comment as well.
Cyrus, meanwhile, announced via a press release that he has signed with Adkins PR, owned by former Webster PR Vice President of Publicity Scott Adkins. Adkins resigned from Webster PR in the wake of the allegations against Webster; he has also signed Naomi Judd, another former Webster PR client, to his roster.
“Scott is my quarterback and has been in this game with me for awhile now! He’s always got my back, whether we’re in New York, LA, Nashville or anywhere in between," Cyrus says in a press relese. "I’m proud to continue working with him."
On Tuesday (Oct. 31), ex-country artist Austin Rick accused Webster of sexually molesting and abusing him, paying Rick to keep quiet and threatening to sabotage Rick's career if he didn't in the late 2000s. In a statement via a spokesperson, Webster denies Rick's claims, noting that Webster, "as a single adult ... has had multiple relationships over the course of his professional life, all of which have been consensual ... includ[ing] a brief relationship with Mr. Rick."
However, another artist and a number of former Webster PR staff members have come forward with their own allegations in the days since; although Rick cannot press criminal charges due to a statute of limitations, others who have made allegations could, and he could still file a civil lawsuit.
On Wednesday (Nov. 1), 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."
Despite a Fox News story reporting that Randy Travis fired Webster PR after the allegations -- which also include former employees' claims that Webster mocked Travis following his 2013 stroke -- Travis' new PR firm tells Taste of Country that the decision to switch representation was made before this news broke. 117 Publicity's Zach Farnum -- a former Webster PR employee -- says that neither he nor Travis was aware of the allegations on Friday (Oct. 27), when Travis' agreement with 117 was announced.