UPDATE: This story has been updated with quotes from Steve Stoute following the publication of this article.
Disgraced music executive Charlie Walk has re-surfaced in the music industry. The former Republic Group president, who “parted ways” with the company earlier this year after numerous women accused him of sexual misconduct, has now taken on a consulting role for industry vet Steve Stoute’s UnitedMasters. Launched in early November, the new company “provides premium music distribution services and facilitates unique partnerships between artists and the world’s biggest brands,” according to its website. Stoute confirmed Walk’s position to Rolling Stone. The news was first reported by Billboard.
In January, Tristan Coopersmith, Walk’s former employee at Columbia Records, posted an open letter accusing Walk of sexual misconduct. “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,” she wrote. Coopersmith accused him of putting his hand on her thigh without consent and “whisper[ing] disgusting things into my ear and I had to smile so that no one suspected anything. On multiple occasions your wife was sitting right across from us.”
Multiple women came out to Rolling Stone following Coopersmith’s letter, accusing Walk of behaving inappropriately toward them, including making sexual comments, sending unsolicited, sexually explicit pictures and video, exposing his penis and inappropriately touching them both in private and in crowded meetings. All the women who accused Walk of misconduct fit the same criteria: early twenties, relatively new to the industry and working as assistants or in similar positions.
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In March, Walk and Republic “agreed to part ways” following an internal investigation by Universal Music Group and the beleaguered exec has kept a relatively low profile since then. Walk has been working with singer Stefan Benz as a label contact, according to the vocalist’s social media profiles, though his exact role in his career is unclear.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Stoute stressed numerous times that Walk’s position was an at-will consultancy and not a full-time job. “”I hired him as a consultant to work on some radio strategy for us,” Stoute says. “I know Charlie and his wife Lauren really well. During the entire crisis, I’ve spoken to him. Before I considered bringing him on as a consultant, I sat down with his wife and my rationale was very simple: His wife stayed with him. She believes him. He denied it. Who am I to go any further than that? If there was anything more to it — like if his wife left him or whatever — I would’ve probably had a different point of view on it. I felt after talking to his wife that I wasn’t doing anything that was wrong using him as a consultant. It was fine. That’s what I assumed.”
Asked if he had read any of the reports about the multiple women who shared similar stories about Walk’s alleged behavior, Stoute says, “I read some of it. Obviously, there is concern anytime there’s women’s rights involved or anybody’s rights. I’m an African-American man. I don’t like African-Americans not being treated fairly. I don’t like women not being treated fairly. I don’t think gays and lesbians should be treated unfairly. I come from struggling to get my voice heard and get fair treatment. So certainly that gave me concern. Any inequality gives me concern.”
Walk did not immediately reply to a request for comment.