This week Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman called out Life And Death publicist Heathcliff Beru for sexually assaulting her at a bar a number of years ago and was immediately met with vocal support by music publicist Beth Martinez, Best Coast‘s Bethany Consentino, musicians Roxy Lange and Chelsea Wolfe and music festival coordinator Martika Finch, who all claimed to have had similar experiences with this man.
After being dropped by Wavves, Killer Mike and DIIV among others following the allegations, Beru has come out with a formal apology and his official resignation saying, “I am deeply sorry for those who I have offended by my actions and how I have made certain women feel.”
The publicist who also represents big name acts like D’Angelo and Mac Miller, wrote in a statement to LA Weekly that he has, “been fighting a losing battle against drugs and alcohol for many years,” which has also seen him lose his wife and family.
He further said that he would be checking into a rehab facility to confront the problem. You can read the full statement here.
The events initially unfolded when Coffman took to Twitter to recount her experience, accusing Beru of sexual assault. “Was just re-telling/re-remembering a story abt how a very popular music publicist RUBBED my ass and BIT my hair at a bar a couple years ago,” she wrote. “I’ve been told many women have had scary stories about him for years but are scared to speak up. And dudes overlook it and keep hiring him.”
“Tired of sketchy ass dudes and sexual predators getting a pass from their ‘bros.’ Grow a spine and hold your friends accountable.”
According to Coffman, her label Domino ceased working with the agency and have not worked with them since.
Coffman tweeted after the apology, “Love that Heathcliff’s initial statement uses “alleged.” He knows damned well what he did. That’s what I call a half assed apology.”
Since, another woman, named Katie, has come forward to Brooklyn Magazine saying that back in 2012 at a hotel in Hollywood “an inebriated and coked up Heathcliff,” tried to pull her between his legs. Later, “he went for it again then proceeded to restrain me with his forearm to my throat against the bathroom stall, unzipped his pants and tried to repeatedly force my hand against his dick.”
“I screamed for him to stop, shoved him away and I resisted as best I could but he overpowered me and I so I stood there restrained at the neck and shoving his body away from me with my spare arm while he jerked off and came all over the bathroom floor,” she further wrote.
Katie explained that the assault led her towards a deep depression, which was the “tipping point” for a suicide attempt. She decided to keep quiet, “for personal safety amidst an emotionally dangerous period of my life”.
According to a statement issued to The Fader, all the staff at Life and Death PR will now leave the company to start a new venture, “that bears no ties to Heathcliff Berru or the Life or Death name”.
Killer Mike, who was represented by the agency and counted Beru as a friend, took to his own Facebook page to write, “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.”
You can view all Coffman’s initial tweets below. She is also retweeting and interacting with others who have had similar experiences with Beru which you can read here.
Many others have also voiced skepticism following Beru’s apology, including aforementioned publicist Beth Martinez, who told LA Weekly: “I have the utmost sympathy for drug and alcohol addicts. I have been through addiction counseling and attended AA. I know and am friends with many addicts. Addiction does not turn you into a rapist. This is not an excuse for ten years of unwanted aggressive sexual advances towards women.”
She continued: “The behaviour that Heathcliff apologized for is not ‘offensive’. Trying to place your penis in a woman’s mouth or vagina while she says ‘no’ repeatedly is rape. The stories I heard yesterday from women who are afraid to come forward describe these exact actions, and the stories range from happening ten years ago to just last month.
“…And this is emblematic of a larger problem within our society of the degradation of women through sexual assault. Women are consistently shamed and bullied into keeping silent. Only now with the rise of social media are we able to share our stories safely. Change is happening. You will be hearing more stories like this.”
Other high-profile industry figures and musicians to speak out against the embattled publicist following his statement include Sleigh Bells, Garbage and Pitchfork senior editor Jessica Hopper.
Check out some of their reactions, below.
— Best Coast (@BestCoast) January 20, 2016
Maybe the stereotype of women being "angry" exists because we have to fight/raise our voices for EVERYTHING + people still barely hear us
— Best Coast (@BestCoast) January 21, 2016
Props and support to the women speaking out against that darkness @Amber_Coffman @BestCoast
— SLEIGH BELLS (@sleighbells) January 20, 2016
@BestCoast @Amber_Coffman My love and solidarity to you both. Thank you for speaking up on behalf of those unable yet to find their voice.Sx
— Garbage (@garbage) January 20, 2016