Republic Records Group president Charlie Walk has been accused of sexual misconduct in a bombshell open letter written by Life Lab founder Tristan Coopersmith. Walk is currently starring as a judge on the Fox show “The Four.” Republic is home to Ariana Grande, Hailee Steinfeld, The Weeknd and Drake, among other hit acts.
In the letter, posted on her website, lifelabhb.com, Coopersmith says daily meetings with the record mogul and conversations peppered with lewd and suggestive comments made her feel “sick to my stomach.” She also describes an encounter with Walk during which, Coopersmith alleges, “You cornered me and pushed me into your bedroom and onto your bed. The bed you shared with your wife.”
A rep for Universal Music Group, of which Republic is a subsidiary, said: “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.”
A spokesperson for Fox, which airs “The Four,” said in a statement to Variety: “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.”
In a statement provided to Variety, Walk commented: “It is very upsetting to learn of this untrue allegation made by someone who worked with me 15 years ago, without incident. 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.”
Coopersmith, a former record company staffer who worked with Walk while he was an executive at Sony Music (Walk had long stints at Columbia Records and Epic Records, both Sony labels), is now a licensed psychotherapist helping others “heal and release past wounds,” according to her website.
In the letter, she tells her story of being a 27-year old with dreams of making it in the music industry and getting hired for a dream job heading her own department. Walk took her to backstage meet-and-greets, she writes, and introduced her to moguls like former Columbia Records head Donnie Ienner, YouTube music chief Lyor Cohen, and hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons (since accused by several women of sexual assault), as well as superstars like Prince. But the dream turned to “nightmares,” as she claims Walk made unwanted advances even as his wife was in the next room.
“For a year I shuddered at the idea of being called into your office, where 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,” she wrote. “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.”
The advances continued with invitations to dinners, sometimes with his wife at the table.
“You did it so that you could put your hand on my thigh under the table,” writes Coopersmith. “You did it so you could lean over and whisper disgusting things into my ear and I had to smile so that no one suspected anything. On multiple occasions your wife was sitting right across from us. … And then there was that event at your swank pad when you actually cornered me and pushed me into your bedroom and onto your bed. … You being drunk and me being 6 inches taller was my saving grace.”
After a year, she says she reported the behavior to Walk’s then “counterpart,” who wasn’t surprised, she notes, but offered her a graceful exit. Coopersmith says she took the “dirty money” and moved to Los Angeles.
She continues: “To you, Charlie Walk what you did was normal. It was a power you perceived to have earned, with a right to exercise it. But to me it was insulting, confusing and objectifying. And it was a secret that I held for a very long time, my experiences only spilling out in flashbacks and nightmares. And my silence paid off. I was able to flourish in the industry, but the more that I did, the more that I saw there were so many Charlie Walks. I walked away from the world of entertainment 8 years ago and never looked back.”
The open letter ends with a plea. “I don’t wish ill for you, Charlie Walk,” she writes. “Only the possibility of personal awakening, accountability and transformation so that you can use your power for good. I forgive you, Charlie Walk. I hope you can forgive yourself.”
Read the open letter in its entirety here.
“The Four” is wrapping its debut season with a final taping this week.
Sony Music declined comment.