Music Exec and 'The Four' Judge Charlie Walk Accused of Sexual Harassment
In an open letter posted online Monday, Life Lab founder Tristan Coopersmith alleges Walk made lewd comments and unwanted sexual advances toward her during her time working under the Republic Records president.
Charlie Walk, the president of Republic Records who currently serves as a judge on Fox's reality competition series The Four, is the latest music mogul to be accused of sexual harassment.
In an open letter posted on the official site of Life Lab, a women's wellness studio and social club, founder Tristan Coopersmith alleges Walk abused his power during her year working under the exec.
Coopersmith, who was 27 years old at the time, writes that she took the opportunity to work for Walk with hopes of advancing her career in the music industry until things took a turn.
"You gave me a fancy office, an assistant and a budget. You took me backstage to shows and got me private meet 'n greets with the likes of Prince. You gave me opportunities beyond my wildest imagination," her letter reads. "But you also made me feel sick to my stomach almost everyday. 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."
Coopersmith details being harassed by the exec with "vulgar" comments via instant messaging and inappropriate touching in the presence of Walk's wife. She also notes one night Walk attempted to trap her in his bedroom while his wife was in the room next door.
"You invited me to dinners that in hindsight I had no business being at, but you did it so that you could put your hand on my thigh under the table, every time inching it closer and closer to my sacred place. 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," she writes. "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. The bed you shared with your wife… your wife who was in the room next door. You being drunk and me being 6 inches taller was my saving grace."
Coopersmith reveals in the letter that she confided in one of Walk's partners after "working in fear" for a year and "was paid to keep my mouth shut and my reputation intact."
The Life Lab founder concludes her message by forgiving Walk for his actions and calling on the music mogul to "use [his] power for good."
"To you, Charlie Walk what you did was normal. It was a power you perceived to have earned, with a right to exercise it," says Coopersmith. "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."
She adds, "I walked away from the world of entertainment 8 years ago and never looked back. Now I’m running a women’s sanctuary devoted to self-love, growth and empowerment. I find myself in a vortex of strength, courage and most of all morality. It’s where I belong so in some ways, perhaps I needed to endure you, to get here, so I’m deciding to be grateful for your part in my journey."
Fox Broadcasting Company is currently reviewing the allegations against Walk, according to a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
"We have only recently learned of these past allegations regarding Mr. Walk," the statement reads. "We are currently reviewing this matter and are committed to fostering a safe environment on all of our shows."
Republic Records' parent company, Universal Music Group, said in a statement obtained by Billboard on Monday, "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."
Meanwhile, Walk released his own statement to ET Online on Monday night.
"It is very upsetting to learn of this untrue allegation made by someone who worked with me 15 years ago, without incident," he said. "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's open letter comes in the midst of a wave of sexual harassment allegations sweeping Hollywood, the media and the music industry and the rise of the #MeToo movement.
Walk's allegations come a few months after music mogul Russell Simmons was accused of sexually assaulting multiple women. Simmons is currently being investigated by the NYPD.
Jan. 30, 9:22 a.m. This story has been updated to include statements from Walk and Universal Music Group.