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Universal exec Charlie Walk accused of sexual harassment

By | Published on Tuesday 30 January 2018

Charlie Walk

Universal Music has said that it will conduct “a full and complete review” into allegations of sexual misconduct made against Charlie Walk, the President of its US-based label Republic Records.

The allegations were made by former Director Of Millennial Research & Marketing at Sony’s Columbia label, Tristan Coopersmith.

Writing on the website for the life coaching company she now runs, she wrote about the excitement she felt in 2004 after being headhunted by Walk – who was then EVP Of Creative Marketing And Promotion at the Sony division. However, she says, as well as providing her with “opportunities beyond my wildest imagination”, he “also made me feel sick to my stomach almost every day”.

“For a year I shuddered at the idea of being called into your office”, she writes, speaking directly to Walk in the letter. “You would stealthily close the door and make lewd comments about my body and share your fantasies of having sex with me. I was 27. No previous experience had taught me what to do in such a situation. So I laughed it off, gently reminded you that you were married with children, and tried to change the subject. But you were relentless. You would instant message me throughout the day making sexual remarks. Truly vulgar words and ideas. Pervasively”.

She goes on to say that she was often invited to dinners, where Walk would put his hand on her thigh and whisper sexual comments to her. On some occasions, she says, while his wife was also at the table.

Coopersmith goes on to allege that, on one occasion, at an event at Walk’s home, he “cornered me and pushed me into [his] bedroom and onto [his] bed” while his wife was in the next room. “You being drunk and me being six inches taller was my saving grace”, she writes.

After a year, she says that she worked up the courage to tell another Columbia exec about Walk’s actions. However, rather that repercussions for him, it triggered her exit from the company.

“He wasn’t surprised”, writes Coopersmith of her conversation with the other unnamed exec. “He told me that there was nothing I could do about it, but that he would help me co-ordinate a graceful exit if I wanted. I was paid to keep my mouth shut and my reputation intact. I’m ashamed of that piece but it’s a truthful part of my story. I took that dirty money and moved to LA”.

After this, Coopersmith worked as an Executive Director at talent agency CAA. However, she goes on, she feels that her success in the music industry was in part reliant upon keeping quiet about her experience of sexual harassment. Over time, she “saw there were so many Charlie Walks” and eventually decided to leave the industry altogether.

Walk, meanwhile, went on to become President of Sony’s Epic Records from 2005 to 2009. He joined Universal’s Republic Records Group in 2013, becoming its President in 2016. He is also a judge on new US TV singing competition ‘The Four: Battle For Stardom’, alongside Sean Combs, DJ Khaled and Meghan Trainor.

In a statement to Entertainment Tonight, Walk denied the allegations made against him, saying: “It is very upsetting to learn of this untrue allegation made by someone who worked with me fifteen years ago, without incident”.

He went on: “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”.

While Sony Music has offered no comment, Universal said that it would investigate despite the alleged incidents taking place before Walk joined the company: “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, which broadcasts ‘The Four’, said in its own statement: “We have only recently learned of these past allegations regarding Mr Walk. We are currently reviewing this matter and are committed to fostering a safe environment on all of our shows”.

As a result of the #MeToo movement, an increasing number of women have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and assault against men in the music industry, including several major label execs. In December, Warner Music in the US launched an investigation, following claims of misconduct by two senior members of staff. Meanwhile, a Warner exec in Sweden was fired earlier the same month. Prior to #MeToo, in May last year, Epic Records President LA Reid departed the company suddenly, seemingly following a harassment allegation.

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