NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Webster Public Relations has changed the name it will operate under following recent allegations of sexual assault against its CEO.
The high-profile firm updated its website Wednesday, saying it’s “no longer in business;" however, those with the firm later said that was stated incorrectly and added they will instead operate under a new name.
The development came after former country singer Austin Rick accused CEO Kirt Webster of sexual assault.
Sources told NewsChannel 5 numerous clients were expected to leave the public relations firm as a result of the accusations.
"I decided that I want to shine a light on the monster that is Kirt Webster and I want to hopefully give a voice or at least some confidence and prevent anyone else from becoming his victim in the future," said Rick.
He said Webster continued to reach out to him for years, even sent text messages as recently as this summer.
Through a spokesperson Webster denied the allegations saying:
"As a single adult, Mr. Webster has had multiple relationships over the course of his professional life, all of which have been consensual. This includes a brief relationship with Mr. Rick. It saddens Mr. Webster that nine years later, after Mr. Rick's music career has been stagnant, Mr. Rick has taken the opportunistic approach of mischaracterizing that relationship and posting untrue allegations."
A statement was sent out on behalf of the firm later in the day on Wednesday clarifying the move to a new name and the reason behind it:
"Earlier [Wednesday], it was mistakenly posted on the Webster Public Relations’ website that the firm has been closed. This was stated incorrectly. Webster Public Relations will continue operating - but under the name Westby Public Relations - while Kirt Webster takes some time away from the business to focus on combating the egregious and untrue allegations made against him. The company's work on behalf of its clients will continue under the leadership of Jeremy Westby, Kirt's longstanding colleague."
117 Entertainment Group President & CEO Zach Farnum worked for Webster PR for about a year before starting his own firm, representing names like Jerry Lee Lewis and Randy Travis.
"A lot of publicists in town have gone through Webster, a lot of successful publicists. It's sort of the training ground of sorts for some publicists," said Farnum.
While he didn't want to touch on the work environment at Webster, he said that these allegations will have an impact, whether they're true or not.
"I feel for a lot of the people there, not only the employees, but the artists," said Farnum.
On Thursday, more than a dozen artists were no longer listed on Westby PR's roster, including Dolly Parton, Kid Rock, Tanya Tucker, and Justin Moore.