Dolly Parton‘s sister, country and gospel singer Stella Parton, turned to social media on Thursday (Nov. 14) to share that her superstar sister had been photographed with former Nashville powerhouse publicist and accused sexual predator Kirt Webster backstage at the 2019 CMA Awards in Nashville on Wednesday (Nov. 13).
Parton co-hosted the 2019 CMA Awards alongside Carrie Underwood and Reba McEntire on Wednesday, and Stella posted to Facebook on Thursday morning, writing, “I have noticed new photos from backstage at the CMAs last night and Kirt Webster the publicity person who had dozens of sexual assault allegations brought against him last year was front and center.”
“I saw photos of him in my sister Dolly’s dressing room standing with her smiling like a Cheshire Cat!” Parton adds. “These predators feel entitled to do the horrific things they do and even super stars like my sister, Billy Ray Cyrus, Tanya Tucker and others that he represented won’t say a word.”
Webster was one of the most powerful executives in Nashville whose client list included Parton, Kenny Rogers, Charlie Daniels, the Oak Ridge Boys, Kid Rock and many more before his empire seemed to crumble in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual assault and rampant workplace abuse that became public in November of 2017.
Former Webster client and country singer Austin Rick accused Webster of drugging and assaulting him at a party at Webster’s house, and after he went public with his story, other former clients and employees came forward with a number of similar allegations ranging from assault to verbal harassment that they say was well-known in the country music community.
They alleged a daily workplace environment rife with assault, verbal abuse and harassment so toxic that it was widely referred to as “publicist boot camp,” claiming that Webster routinely targeted young people who had recently moved to Nashville and held no economic or social power. Taste of Country has spoken directly to nearly two dozen former associates who claim assault, harassment and intimidation that was so bad that in some cases, they feared their conversations were being recorded and they were being followed.
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Dolly Parton fired Webster after the allegations about his conduct became public, but she stopped short of speaking out against him, saying at the time, “I’ve worked with Kirt Webster for many years and he has done a wonderful job. I am hoping that the accusations are not true.”
Webster stepped down and closed his business within days of the allegations, but rumors have swirled in Nashville that he has continued to work behind the scenes with powerful friends who shield him and give him work. In January of 2019, Webster announced he was getting back to work, adding that he hadn’t really been gone. In March he launched a new website announcing a new consulting business aimed at the very kind of young, inexperienced artists he has been accused of exploiting.
“It’s been proven that he never stopped working for one day after the scandal broke last year,” Stella Parton writes. “It is a shame on the artists who stay silent and the CMAs for condoning this man’s perverted acts. My sister’s management is just as complicit in this scandal.”
Webster tells Fox News in an emailed statement that he attended the 2019 CMA Awards as a guest of singer Janie Fricke, who was on hand to help present Kacey Musgraves with Female Vocalist of the Year. Fricke previously defended Webster against the allegations against him, saying he “is just a good person.”
Webster tells Fox News he was “overwhelmed with positive welcoming reactions” at the CMAs, adding, “We have all made mistakes and we have paid the consequences of those mistakes. We have all been accused of things (big and small) that we haven’t done. Life is a roller coaster, you have highs and lows, you just hope you have more highs than lows. Redemption is an amazing thing. God is good!”
Taste of Country’s partner site. the Boot, reached out to Dolly Parton’s management and the CMA for comment. The CMA confirmed that Webster was present as the guest of a presenter. Parton’s reps had not responded at the time of publication.
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