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Claims of Extortion, Threatening Texts Circle Charlie Walk Controversy

While Universal Music Group conducts an internal review of Republic Records Group president Charlie Walk, who was accused of sexual misconduct by a former employee at Sony Music by way of an open letter published on the internet and circulated by industry blog The Lefsetz Letter on Jan. 29, a new claim by the executive points to an alleged extortion attempt.

The New York Post reports that Tom Gilligan, a veteran of Midwest radio, had been sending threatening texts to Walk purportedly promising to “use all of my powers … and blow your life up” and hinting, “The Me Too movement will be knocking on your door … Karma is tough.”

Walk’s legal team, according to the Post, went to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office requesting an investigation back in December. But the Feb. 5 report also brings into question whether the Gilligan threats were connected to the #MeToo outing.

However, the suggestion that Tristan Coopersmith, who wrote the blog post, titled “#MeToo An Open Letter to Charlie Walk,” and worked with Walk while at Columbia Records in the early 2000s, is connected to Gilligan or a conspiracy against Walk is one the Times Up Legal Defend Fund strongly denies.

“Tristan Coopersmith had never heard of Tom Gilligan and has never met him or discussed her story with him,” SKDK’s Hillary Rosen, who is representing Coopersmith through the Fund, tells Variety. “She stands by her story of Charlie Walk’s sexually harassing behavior with her and will not be intimidated by his lawyers suggesting she wants anything other than the truth to be told.” Walk has denied all of Coopersmith’s allegations.

According to an insider, Walk’s lawyers have yet to approach or make contact with Coopersmith. In addition, Walk’s legal team is weighing taking action against media outlets and websites publishing anonymous claims related to Walk’s alleged misconduct, sources tells Variety. Deadline reported on Tuesday that a representative for Walk had sent a letter to Lefsetz to that effect. The post remains on Lefsetz’s blog, which is read by thousands of music industry insiders.

Walk was put on leave from Republic Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group, on Jan. 31. Later that day, Walk withdrew from the finale of Fox competition show “The Four.” “Out of respect for the contestants, my fellow judges and everyone involved with the show, I have made the decision not to attend the finale of ‘The Four,’” he said in a statement provided to Variety. “I do not want my presence to be a distraction. Needless to say this is very upsetting. Although I continue to support the ‘Me Too’ movement, there has been an extreme rush to judgment against me in this particular case which is unfair and inconsistent with anything that even actually happened. I welcome any investigation so that in short order these unfounded and hurtful accusations can be put to rest.”

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