Editor’s Note: I would first and foremost like to salute Amber Coffman for her bravery in speaking up about her personal experience that needs to be addressed as a public matter. Additionally, I would like to thank every woman that came forward following her revelation. I hope that these recent findings encourage more women across the world, inside and out the industry to confront this issue, begin healing and advocacy for victims of sexual predators.
We’ve reached out to several women involved in this and of the dozen or more identified, none responded to us. Of course they are within their right not to but it does disappoint me that a subject such as this is not continuously acknowledged across the board. As a man before anything and a man in the industry secondly, I manage artists that are women and because of that I will not waiver in my support for women who are preyed on by the evils of this industry.
– DDot Omen
Disclaimer: If you find this article offensive, chances are you are indeed a fuckboy.
What happens when a publicist needs a publicist?
One might be inclined to ask Heathcliff Berru – a publicist at the epicenter of scandal and former CEO of the PR company Life and Death – after a barrage of sexual assault allegations last week all named him as the assailant.
It began on Sunday, January 17th when Amber Coffman, lead singer of the band Dirty Projectors, sent out a series of tweets about Berru alleging that the publicist “RUBBED [her] ass and BIT [her] hair at a bar a couple years ago.” Unknowingly to Coffman, her brave decision to share her story would catalyze a public dialogue on sexual assault against women in the music industry.
It wasn’t long before Coffman’s story quickly gained traction. Her story ultimately caught the attention of other women who had been through similar experiences with Berru and prompted them to share their own stories. Among the many included Yasmine Kittles of the band Tearist:
As well as raising other important issues:
Clients of Life and Death like rapper Killer Mike and indie bands such as DIIV and WAAVES have since fired Berru, with many more choosing to distance themselves from the publicist. In a statement issued to L.A Weekly, Berru wrote
“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.”
Berru’s own statements proved unsettling for many. He’s accused of instrumentalizing his history of drug and alcohol abuse problems to garner sympathy, and maybe even absolve him of his responsibility in the assaults. It’s especially problematic because women who are assaulted under the influence are automatically told it was their fault. Even victims of date-rape drugs are told it was their responsibility to watch their drinks. Where is the sympathy for them?