Amber Coffman, Bethany Cosentino, Others Accuse Publicist Of Sexual Misconduct

Taylor Hill/Getty

Amber Coffman, Bethany Cosentino, Others Accuse Publicist Of Sexual Misconduct

Taylor Hill/Getty

Scroll down for the most recent updates to this story.

Last night, on Twitter, Dirty Projectors member Amber Coffman recounted an incident in which she was sexually assaulted by music publicist Heathcliff Berru, founder of Life Or Death PR & Management, whose firm’s roster includes artists such as Odd Future, D’Angelo, DIIV, Killer Mike, of Montreal, Speedy Ortiz, Cloud Nothings, and others:

Other women in the industry expressed their their support and shared similar stories, including Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino:

This morning, after her tweets were covered in stories from Brooklyn Magazine and The Observer, Coffman offered the following response:

We’ve reached out to Berru for comment, and we’ll update if we hear back.

UPDATE: Additional artists and people within the music industry have come forward with their stories:

Coffman also offered additional comment on the situation:

UPDATE 2: Wavves and Speedy Ortiz — two bands that are represented by Berru’s PR Agency — have responded to the assault allegations:

UPDATE 3: According to a statement, Heathcliff Berru is stepping down as CEO of Life Or Death. This action follows a number of public firings from bands on their roster, including Wavves and DIIV. Nick Dierl, president of the company, issued the following statement:

Life or Death has a zero tolerance policy for the type of conduct alleged in today’s on-line postings. We take these allegations very seriously.

The men and women who make up this company do not, and will not, condone or tolerate any conduct described in the on-line postings. Life Or Death is 3 men and 3 women who are committed to promoting art and serving the clients that we’re so privileged to represent. 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.

Dierl has clarified to Stereogum that “[Berru] will not be involved in the operations at all moving forward.” It is unclear at this point if Berru will still own and have a financial stake in the company.

UPDATE 4: Speedy Ortiz has severed ties with the company:

UPDATE 5: Coffman shared a more detailed account of the incident with The Cut:

I was introduced to Heathcliff in L.A. at an Unknown Mortal Orchestra show through a friend and he got us into the show. He was very friendly and he introduced me to his fiancée so I sort of thought, Okay, well this guy is not threatening. And then a week later I went to the same show back in New York and I ran into him backstage after the show and he said, ‘Hey, let me get your number.’ It seemed harmless to me so I gave him my number.

Then we go to the after-party and it’s like me and it’s a lot of my friends there just hanging out at this cocktail bar. We’ve probably been there for about an hour and I was with my friend and we had just ordered drinks and we were leaning on the bar, and across on the other side of the room I saw Heathcliff make eye contact with me. He walked over and I was like, ‘Oh, he’s coming to say hi,’ and as soon as I thought that he comes up to me and his hand goes straight to my ass. He was rubbing up and down and I totally froze up. I told my friend ‘I’ll be right back’ and ran over and grabbed three of my other guy friends and I said, ‘Hey, will you guys come back over with me, I ditched my friend and my drink’s over there but this guy just grabbed my ass.’

So I walked back up with three guys and Heathcliff was still standing there and he says to me, ‘Can I just tell you that you’re incredibly cute?’ And then he grabs my hair and starts biting it in front of all these guys. We just left immediately. One of my friends almost punched him in the face.

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. And it wasn’t until now that I realized that I was actually kind of scared to in a way.

And Beach Fossils and Kelela have also left Life Or Death:

UPDATE 6: Berru has issued a statement to LA Weekly:

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 [am] 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.

UPDATE 7: Killer Mike has responded, indicating that “Life Or Death is no more,” and noting that his day-to-day publicist has been and will continue to be LoD employee Duncan Will:

Here is his Facebook post:

Now that I’ve got everything in order, let me put this out here since my tweets didn’t convey my points/actions clearly.
Yesterday a.m. I read the story about Heathcliff. I called him immediately and ended our biz relationship. I also told him how wrong he was and how disappointed and ashamed I am of his actions and that he’s gotta take whatever’s coming. I also encouraged him to work on being a better human being.

I stand in solidarity with the women that have spoke out. No one should have to feel afraid for speaking out when wronged in any manner or feel like no cares about them. This is not ok. For the sake of clarity, I had no knowledge of any of this stuff prior to the story breaking yesterday a.m.

As for publicity moving forward- RTJ has always been repped by Biz3 and I will continue to work with Duncan Will (formerly of LoD) independently. He’s done nothing but be a great publicist to me.

Another point I want to make sure that comes across- Men have to be able to tell our friends and peers when they’re wrong. We cannot just say, it’s not my problem. We can’t expect ppl to improve if we’re not willing to hold them accountable and push them to be better.
Love and Respect.

UPDATE 8: According to a new statement (via The Fader) from (now former) Life Or Death president Nick Dierl, the current staff is leaving the company and will start a “new venture imminently that bears no ties to Heathcliff Berru.” Here’s the statement in full:

In light of recent events, the remainder of the Life or Death staff is leaving the company today.

We are saddened by the circumstances under which we are departing but are grateful for the opportunity we had together.

There will be a new venture imminently that bears no ties to Heathcliff Berru or the Life or Death name.

More soon from Bradley, Linda, Duncan, Emily and Nick.

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