Dirty Projectors’ singer and guitarist Amber Coffman came forward this week about being sexually harassed and physically groped by publicist Heathcliff Berru of Life or Death PR and MGMT.
Coffman has recounted being harassed at a party by Berru, who she says groped her and bit her hair. Multiple witnesses have attested that the incident occurred and Coffman’s brave announcement has prompted many other artists under the label to come forward with similar stories detailing Berru’s sexual misconduct and several more to end their professional relationships with Berru, who has stepped down as CEO of Life and Death PR and will reportedly be checked into rehab for drug and alcohol abuse which he alleges is the cause of his actions, though some of his accusers claim that Berru was not intoxicated at the time of their assaults.
In response to Berru’s public statement, he has been accused of shifting the blame for his actions to the fault of drugs and alcohol, and of not taking the accusations against him seriously. His statement begins:
“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.” You can read the full statement here.
In response to this statement, Coffman tweeted “Love that Heathcliff’s initial statement uses ‘alleged.’ He knows damned well what he did. That’s what I call a half assed apology.”
Especially evident via Twitter, Coffman has received an outpouring of support for coming forward about her experience, including many messages corroborating her story, and telling similar experiences. Rapper Killer Mike, who is a long-time friend of Berru, came forward to support Coffman in a long statement on Facebook as well, calling for all men to stand up against sexual assault and harassment. Killer Mike writes:
“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…
“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.”
Coffman also calls out to men to work to understand the sexual harassment that women also face, tweeting, “Guys- I challenge you to ask your female friends to tell their stories if they will.”
Coffman’s Twitter feed for the past two days since the story broke publicly has been an endless stream of brave words, retweets of others who have shared their stories, and responses to both her supporters and those excusing Berru’s behavior.
Thanks to Coffman for bravely sharing her story and heroically opening the door for others to do the same.