Universal Music Group has placed Republic Records label head Charlie Walk on leave pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct, even as another woman has come forward to accuse The Four judge of inappropriate behavior.
This marketing executive alleges Walk sent her sexually explicit images and video via Snapchat and attempted to lure her into a Los Angeles hotel room. The exchange, she said, followed years of voyeuristic behavior and uncomfortable remarks made in front of colleagues at Republic Records. The woman requested anonymity because she still works in the recording industry and does not want her name associated with Walk’s conduct.
Universal issued a statement saying it is committed to a safe workplace environment where employees are treated fairly and respectfully. It retained an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation and has encouraged anyone who has relevant information to speak to the firm’s investigators.
“Mr. Walk has been placed on leave, and will remain in leave for the duration of the investigation,” the company said.
The marketing executive spoke with Deadline after Life Lab founder Tristan Coopersmith published an open letter, accusing Walk of misconduct while they worked together at Sony Music. She alleged he made lewd comments, sending sexually explicit text messages, groping her at business dinners and, on one occasion, attempting to push her into bed with him.
Walk issued a statement, calling Coopersmith’s allegations both “untrue” and “false,” which prompted the marketing executive to speak out.
“I cannot believe Charlie’s claims that this story is false when I worked for him at Republic … to many of the same patterns,” wrote the female executive. “I was not planning to share mine, but if it helps clear Tristan’s name (who I’ve never met) then I’m in.”
The woman said she quickly found herself a focus of Walk’s attention. Within months of arriving at the label, he invited her to accompany him as a guest at an industry charity gala.
Walk’s interest became increasingly personal and uncomfortable, she said. He requested permission to follow her private Instagram account and frequently commented on the photos the then-20-something woman posted of her and her friends, she said. He’d respond in ways she found weird and inappropriate for a senior-level executive.
“He started saying to people, in meetings, ‘Do you guys follow (her) in Instagram? Oh my god, she has the best Instagram. It’s so crazy, you have to follow her,'” said the woman.
One chance encounter in a hallway took on sexual overtones, she said, when Walk said he might have to consider unfollowing her “because I don’t think I can handle it.”
“When he said that to me in the hallway that confirmed my suspicions,” the woman said. “It was like ‘Ew, that’s gross, and you shouldn’t have said that.'”
The marketing executive found herself in a conversation with Walk on Snapchat after she had been laid off at Universal. She was attempting to keep in touch with an influential industry player. He apparently had other things in mind.
Walk reportedly invited her to meet him at the Wilshire Hotel. She asked what was happening there, thinking it was a party, and he responded with explicit photos of himself on Snapchat. The woman tried to put him off without offending him, joking, “Ha ha, you’re drunk.” Walk responded by streaming video of himself, laying in bed, the camera on his underwear and his hands down his pants, the woman said.
She quickly exited the app, saying she was staying with a friend and unable to meet the executive.
“I didn’t work there anymore, which doesn’t make it ok — but it does corroborate (Coopersmith’s) story. Yes he is a person who does these things,” the woman said. “At the same time I was so upset. Is this why I got laid off? Did I get laid off so you could ask me to sleep with you? That’s how I felt. It’s a very shitty feeling.”
A close friend, who accompanied the woman to industry events and has met Walk, corroborated the woman’s account — including the contents of the explicit Snaps.
A former intern, Alexandra Valenti, said a culture of misogyny radiated from the top down at Republic, and emboldened subordinates.
In an interview with Deadline, Valenti said one of Walk’s surrogates would berate her, hold her past her normal work hours — making her late for a waitressing job that paid the bills — an threaten to block her career path at the label.
Valenti said she felt powerless to complain because of fears that the subordinate was acting on Walk’s behalf.
“I went to work every single morning sick to my stomach and terrified,” Valenti wrote in a Facebook post. “I listened to that corner of the office objectify and ridicule women on a daily basis. I left that internship wanting to give up on my dreams of working in the industry.”
Since publishing her Facebook post, seven people contacted Valenti to share their experiences with Walk.
“I’m glad Tristan Coopersmith has found her voice,” Valenti wrote on Facebook. “Kudos for speaking up on behalf of the countless women Charlie …. [has] threatened to ruin. #TimesUpNow.”
Universal Music sent a letter to all Republic employees within a day of the original allegations against Walk, saying it had engaged the outside law firm of Collazo Florentino & Keil to speak with any current or former Republic employees who “have information of this nature they want to share about their Republic work experience.”
“Universal Music Group does not tolerate any type of retaliation against any employee for raising issues of concern,” wrote Saheli Datta, Universal Music’s head of global compliance. “If you have something to say we want to hear it.
Set to air again tomorrow on Fox, The Four: Battle for Stardom debuted on the net on January 4 to OK ratings. Judged by Walk, Sean “Diddy” Combs, producer DJ Khaled and singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor, the competition show’s grand prize is a recording contact with the Walk-led Republic Records