WOMEN
20/01/2016 17:41 GMT

Musician's Story Of Sexual Harassment Prompts Other Women To Come Forward

At least eight women have now accused a prominent music publicist of harassment.

Taylor Hill via Getty Images
Amber Coffman playing at Governor's Ball in 2013 with her band Dirty Projectors. 

The frontwoman for Brooklyn-based band Dirty Projectors, Amber Coffman, tweeted accusations on Monday night that music publicist Heathcliff Berru sexually harassed her at a bar in New York. 

Coffman told The Cut that she was hanging out with a group of friends Monday night when they started talking about their experiences with creepy dudes and sexual harassment. "I said, 'Why does nobody say anything?' And my friend just said people were scared and I was like, 'Well, I’m not scared,'" Coffman told The Cut. "So I just said his name." 

In a series of tweets, Coffman accused Berru, music publicist and CEO of Life Or Death PR, of groping her butt and biting her hair. 

Coffman tweeted that she was at a bar in New York with four of her guy friends when Berru came over to the group and proceeded to grope Coffman without her consent. 

The Huffington Post reached out to Coffman for comment but did not hear back before the time of publication. 

Coffman said she didn't take it public because she was afraid of the backlash she might receive.

"I told Domino Records and I told my friends and people who I knew but I guess I didn’t really think to take it public," she told The Cut. "And it wasn’t until now that I realized that I was actually kind of scared to in a way."

After Coffman came forward with her story, she quickly gained support from other women and fellow musicians. Shortly after Coffman came forward, more women tweeted similar allegations against Berru. Music publicist Beth Martinez was one of the first women to share her story after Coffman.  

Martinez accused Berru of allegedly putting his hand down her shirt as she repeatedly told him to stop. She also said Berru and "members of his crew" may have "roofied" her on multiple occasions. 

Martinez's account of Berru's alleged sexual misconduct: 

Other woman in the industry came out with their stories on Twitter, too, after Coffman and Martinez -- including Tearist frontwoman Yasmine Kittles, former MTV host Shirley Braha and Best Coast singer Bethany Cosentino.

So far, at least eight women have come forward with similar allegations of sexual misconduct against Berru. 

Below are some of the tweets from women who have accused Berru of some form of sexual misconduct.

A former drummer of multiple bands, Roxy Langetold Brooklyn Magazine on Tuesday that Berru sexually assaulted her in 2007. "He kept trying to force me to give him a blowjob in a cab and wouldn’t stop pushing my head into his lap forcefully, with his pants unzipped and penis out in the open," Lange said. "After I got out of the cab, he followed me up three flights of stairs and forced his way into my apartment, attempting to force himself on me but he was luckily too drunk and coked up to get hard so he gave up." (Read the rest of Lange's story here.)

Multiple musicians quickly started to tweet their support for the women and publicly cut ties with Berru's PR company Life Or Death on Tuesday. Some of the artists who cut ties with Berru included rock band Wavves, Brooklyn-based band DIIV and Speedy Ortiz guitarist Sadie Dupuis

Below are some of the tweets from the musicians.

On Tueday evening, less than 24 hours after Coffman's initial tweets, Life Or Death PR issued a statement which informed the public that Berru will step down as CEO of the company.

Life or Death has a zero tolerance policy for the type of conduct alleged in today’s online postings. We take these allegations very seriously... We are taking measures to ensure that the alleged behavior did not, and will not, make its way into company operations or impact our commitment to promoting art and assisting our clients.... We are grateful to Heathcliff Berru for all the work he's done to date and his creative vision at the company. We appreciate and support his decision to step down as CEO of Life Or Death.

Read Life Or Death's full statement here.

Berru also issued a statement later that Tuesday night to L.A. Weekly. Read Berru's full statement below: 

There have been several reports about my alleged inappropriate behavior which deserve a response. I am deeply sorry for those who I have offended by my actions and how I have made certain women feel. If I crossed the line of decency or respectfulness in situations when I was drunk and under the influence, there is no excuse of course. To be clear, while my conduct may have been inappropriate, I have never drugged anyone or engaged in that type of behavior.  Nevertheless, I do not want to be the type of person who would let drugs or alcohol take command of his life and compromise how he treats people. Yet I have been this person and it’s time to put a stop to all of this. Create a world with one less inappropriate man.

I have been fighting a losing battle against drugs and alcohol for many years and will be checking into a rehabilitation facility in the hope that I can improve my chances of winning that fight. A year ago, I was confronted by a peer and began to try to clean up and make things right with therapy and with an eye towards quitting the addiction. The shame and sadness feels as strong now as it did then and I am making an immediate change. 

I have already lost my wife, abandoned my family, and destroyed those I love as a result of my shameful, embarrassing, unacceptable behavior. I deeply apologize to them, as well. By no means do they deserve to feel the pain of my actions. Please give them the space they deserve. They were the light at the end of a dark tunnel. I was married during some of these years and hid my problems from everyone well. Especially her and her family. Totally inexcusable.

In no way do these allegations reflect on Life or Death PR, its staff, or anyone associated with the company. These are my issues, not theirs. I could not be more proud of the company and what it stands for. That being said I have stepped down as the CEO and relinquishing all responsibility to the current president, Nick Dierl. The company shouldn't have to deal with this distraction and I want Nick and the rest of the team to continue to do their good work while I take care of myself.

Coffman responded to Berru's statement with a tweet Wednesday morning.

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