A senior music executive has been hit with fresh accusations of sexually harassing women in incidents said to have taken place over more than two decades.
Republic Records Group president Charlie Walk allegedly made sexual comments, sent unsolicited, sexually explicit pictures and videos, exposed his penis and touched women inappropriately both in private and public spaces.
All of the women interviewed by Rolling Stone as part of a month-long investigation were in their early twenties, were relatively new to the industry, and were employed as assistants or similar positions when they claimed the harassment began.
One woman, Kate Harold, had been working at Columbia Records as Walk's executive assistant for just over a year in 2006 when Walk allegedly invited her to dinner with him and some of his friends and business associates.
She claimed she had endured over a year of nearly-daily sexual harassment and inappropriate gestures, but felt as though she was unable to say no to her boss, so accepted.
“Shortly into the dinner, I went to the restroom,” she told Rolling Stone. “When I came out, he was standing right outside the restroom alone… Before I could do anything, he forced his lips on mine with a quick, hard kiss and then rubbed his crotch up against me, letting me basically feel that he had an erection.”
“I felt extremely dirty and ashamed. I was embarrassed. I just felt violated and gross.” One of her co-workers confirmed to Rolling Stone that Harold told her about the incident within 24 hours.
Walk categorically denied all of the allegations. “I did not do these things and this is not who I am,” he said in a statement. “Throughout my career I have always sought to conduct myself professionally and appropriately. It is upsetting to be presented with false claims from long ago that I know to be untrue and were never reported.
“I support the national discussion taking place right now because I believe fully in the importance in treating everyone with respect and dignity at all times.”
Walk was previously accused in January of sexual misconduct by former colleague Tristan Coopersmith, who wrote an open letter about his alleged behaviour. After her initial account, three more women came forward with accusations of sexual harassment involving the record executive.
Walk was put on leave by Universal Music Group shortly after the first allegations became public, and was cut from his position as a judge on The Four. Variety reports that he is being represented by lawyer Patricia Glaser, who is also representing Harvey Weinstein, to fight the claims against him.
A Sony representative responded to the article and said: “Sony Music believes in a safe, professional and respectful workplace and will not tolerate behaviour that isn’t within these guidelines."
Discussion of sexual harassment in the workplace has been the subject of intense discussion since news broke of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's alleged behaviour towards aspiring actresses and women working in the film industry; sparking the Time's Up and #MeToo movements.
In December last year the BBC reported that sexual abuse and harassment is “endemic” in the music industry and is blighted by “dangerous men” abusing their power.
Singer-songwriter Chloe Howl said she felt exploited by a number of men at the beginning of her career but was “one of the lucky ones”, adding that men in the industry are given “this untouchable power”.
Singer Paloma Faith, who has been a vocal supporter of the Time's up and #MeToo movements, told The Sun last year: “I see sexual exploitation constantly in the music industry... where women are made to feel [by men] that their main currency is their bodies.”