Universal Music Group executive Charlie Walk says the sexual assault allegations from a 2004 employee are absolutely ‘untrue’ and ‘upsetting’. Meanwhile, UMG and Fox’s ‘The Four’ have launched internal investigations — and more accusations are emerging.
Updated, Tues 4:30 pm PT: More accusations have now emerged against Charlie Walk, specifically to Bob Lefsetz of the Lefsetz Letter. In one email, Walk is accused of making sexually suggestive comments to a female staffer, then taunting her while commenting on her appearance — after she was laid off. “One time after I was laid off from Republic he twirled me in front of Joe Carozza, Republic’s head of PR, and said something like, ‘She’s so hot, look at her, I can say it now that she doesn’t work for us.'”
Another commented: “I have warned other women behind closed doors of Charlie Walk but I have never spoken publicly about how uncomfortable and inappropriate he was to me when I worked with him years ago. From repeatedly directing the conversation to my looks, my figure, my eyes and how attractive he found me (I am a married woman and business owner), both in front of people and when alone. He would take a perfectly normal business encounter and steer it toward objectifying me and completely disregard anything I had to say about work (which could be hugely embarrassing, awkward and degrading when said in front of other members of the company). He had also sent me inappropriate text around that time which left me to wonder, where did this man (who is married with children) think exchanges such as these were going to go exactly?”
Here’s our original story from earlier this (Tuesday) morning:
Universal Music Group executive Charlie Walk is fighting back against serious allegations of sexual assault and intimidation, labeling a lengthy accusation from 2004 as ‘untrue’.
Monday, January 29th: ‘Universal Music Executive Charlie Walk Faces Serious Sexual Assault Accusations‘
Walk declined to respond to Digital Music News, perhaps preferring the tamer platform of Billboard. Either way, this executive is swiping back:
“It is very upsetting to learn of this untrue allegation made by someone who worked with me 15 years ago, without incident,” Walk responded. “There has never been a single HR claim against me at any time during my 25+ year career, spanning three major companies.
“I have consistently been a supporter of the women’s movement and this is the first time I have ever heard of this or any other allegation — and it is false.”
No counter-response from Tristan Coopersmith, who worked with Walk during the 2004-5 timeframe when the alleged assault incidents occurred.
But maybe Coopersmith has already unloaded all of her ammo. In a lengthy and damaging open letter posted this week, Coopersmith outlined a systematic, daily routine of sexual harassment at the hands of Walk. Coopersmith alleges a torrent of overt sexual advances and physical attacks from the high-ranking exec — and suggest that she wasn’t the only one.
Coopersmith says she left a plum job at Columbia Records after just one year due to distress — with a fat cash settlement to keep things quiet.
All of which makes the idea of an ‘HR complaint’ pretty laughable — and a blunder in Walk’s response. After all, the HR department at a major corporation like Sony Music Entertainment is likely to protect its own, though that doesn’t make Coopersmith’s allegations true. Sadly, this report is tricky to confirm — especially given its occurrence more than 13 years in the past.
That doesn’t mean that UMG and Fox aren’t willing to try. Both organizations have issued statements promising a full investigation into the matter.
Currently, Walk is the president of Republic Group, a prominent subdivision of the world’s largest recording label. Accordingly, sources to Digital Music News said that Coopersmith’s letter was ‘read aloud’ amongst staffers, perhaps in a closed-door conference room.
Whether Walk is planning to address his troops — or, already has — is unknown.
Here’s UMG’s official response to the matter:
“While it appears this blog post relates to the period prior to Mr. Walk’s appointment to his position at Republic Records, we take the allegations very seriously and intend to conduct a full and complete review of this matter.”
Fox has also chimed in:
“We are currently reviewing this matter and are committed to fostering a safe environment on all of our shows.”
Interestingly, neither group has knee-jerk fired Walk. That is telling, and could indicate a growing backlash against a torrent of accusations against powerful men. In this case, like many others, the facts have not been verified. Sadly, a rush to judge has already ruined dozens of careers — even though in many cases, the facts weren’t quite sifted through.
More as this develops.