Tristan Coopersmith, whose public accusations of sexual harassment against Republic Records president Charlie Walk have resulted in his being placed on leave from the company, spoke again about her motivations for doing so in a 1,500-word-long article published on Refinery29 Monday morning. Since she came forward, four other women have accused Walk of misconduct during his tenures at Columbia, Epic and Republic Records; he has denied those accusations.
“The Harvey Weinstein allegations unlocked a part of my life that I had left behind for 13 years,” Coopersmith begins. “When I left Columbia Records and moved away from New York in 2005, I never looked back… After the Weinstein allegations were in the news, I felt an unearthing of all the sh– I never dealt with.”
She then speaks of a therapist’s advice in November of last year to write a letter to Walk and not send it. But then, during the “profoundly impactful” January Women’s March in Los Angeles, “I got a very clear download that I was supposed to share this letter,” she writes. “And so the letter that I posted on my blog, outing my former boss, Charlie Walk, is actually the letter that I wrote just for myself as my assignment from my therapist, with no intention of sending it. Vulnerability is what heals us. The impetus for sharing it was just about continuing a conversation. I have a 6-year-old, and I don’t want him to grow up into a workplace where sexual misconduct is the norm.”
She claims she was surprised by the reaction the letter received because she was unaware Walk was a featured judge on the singing competition “The Four,” “let alone that it was the last week of taping. I also didn’t know that the Grammys were the night before because I’m pretty disconnected from the music industry these days. Two hours later, a friend called me and said, ‘You’re on Variety.’”
While she speaks of the “liberation” she felt after posting the letter and the “hundreds of messages on Facebook from women and men, some of whom I knew, but most of whom I didn’t, with really beautiful messages of gratitude. … because they had a similar story with Charlie or with somebody else,” she also singles out her former colleagues for their inaction.
“Every single person that I worked with at Columbia Records was a bystander. Every one of them, men and women, saw how Charlie behaved, and to my knowledge no one did anything, no one said anything. We tell kids in school all the time about bullies. We tell them, don’t be a bystander. It’s like if you see something, say something; if you hear something, do something, you know. That same concept needs to apply in the workplace. I got so many emails from men saying, thank you so much for coming out about Charlie. It was disgusting having to see him mistreat women all of these decades. And I’m like, you didn’t have to see him. You could have done something.”
She also spares no words for Walk. “When Charlie came out with his denial the day after I published my story, I was not surprised,” she writes. “Truthfully, my first reaction was to think, You’re so dumb, do you really think you’re going to get away with it? I knew I wasn’t the only woman. I had dozens of messages from women who had similar experiences with him. All he had to do was say, ‘I’m sorry, I f—ed up, how can I make it right?’ Part of the problem is that in our culture we tend to not be taught to say I’m sorry.
She adds that “I have not been threatened with legal action by Charlie Walk or anybody. I talked to one of their lawyers early on, as a just in case, but I haven’t needed that.
Going forward, she writes, “One of the conversations that I’m having right now is about filling in the gap. There isn’t anything for people’s psychological and emotional needs. How can we support women in that way? … I’m hoping to be able to be a thought leader in figuring that out,” although she does not specify any measures beyond “connecting with your inner voice, your intuition, listening to yourself, listening to your body, and then honoring that and being able to communicate your voice in all of your relationships. When something doesn’t feel right, what do you do about that? How do you speak up for yourself? It all comes down to having a solid foundation of feeling worthy of being heard.”
She concludes by saying, “For women who are thinking about speaking out about their experiences or naming their harassers: Sharing your story publicly is just one path, and if that feels like the most effective, most cathartic way to freedom, then my advice is to wholeheartedly go for it. Share your truth in its purest form. Let your story and the pain attached evaporate so it is no longer your weight to carry.”