Music publicist offers semi-apology after multiple women accuse him of sexual assault

'Still makes me so damn mad thinking about it,' one of his alleged victims wrote.

Feb 29, 2020, 12:54 pm*

IRL

 

Marisa Kabas

Multiple women in the music industry have come forward to share their stories of Heathcliff Berru, a prominent music publicist, sexually assaulting them.

Amber Coffman of the band Dirty Projectors was the first to discuss her experiences with Berru, a publicist at Life or Death PR, tweeting on Tuesday evening about her inappropriate encounters with him.

https://twitter.com/Amber_Coffman/status/689241020769280000

https://twitter.com/Amber_Coffman/status/689241386038607872

https://twitter.com/Amber_Coffman/status/689243235986702337

https://twitter.com/Amber_Coffman/status/689287391081660416

https://twitter.com/Amber_Coffman/status/689287711878860800

After Coffman shared her story, the floodgates opened. Several other women replied to her tweets to confirm Berru’s reputation and share stories of their own.

Martinez then made even more serious accusations.

Rock duo Best Coast also responded to Coffman, offering their support and alluding to having had a similar experience with Berru.

As these women shared their stories, other women came forward to do the same.

Rock band WAVVES, who worked with Life or Death, announced that they would be severing ties with Berru in the wake of the accusations.

https://twitter.com/wavves/status/689544563636117504

Roxy Lange, a former professional musician, emailed Brooklyn Magazine to share her harrowing experience with the publicist.

Heathcliff Beru sexually assaulted me when I first moved to NYC in 2007, I was 21 years-old. 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. After I got out of the cab, he followed me up 3 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. He then pissed himself and fell asleep in my bed while I laid there, a very drunk 21 year-old experiencing NY nightlife for the first time and this happened to me. About a year ago, I ran into him while grocery shopping in Silver Lake with his wife and he hugged me, I wanted to throw up. I repressed this memory for so long and always assumed that I brought this upon myself because I was very drunk that evening but that’s not the case at all. He’s a disgusting, loser scumbag who doesn’t respect women. It pains me to know that there are others out there who have been violated by Berru, it makes me sick to my stomach.

After the onslaught of accusations, Life or Death, Berru’s employer, released a statement addressing the situation and announcing his resignation.

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.

Berru himself responded in a lengthy 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 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.

The situation is reminiscent of a similar episode in which porn performer Stoya accused fellow performer and ex-boyfriend James Deen of rape. Once Stoya broke her silence, a handful of others came forward with stories of their own.

While Deen has not yet appeared in court, the court of public opinion reached its own decision, and he lost endorsements, columns, and his wholesome reputation as porn’s boy next door. Unlike Berru, Deen has not yet admitted to any of his alleged misconduct.

Coffman, whose tweets sparked the outcry against Berru, was not impressed by his apology.

https://twitter.com/Amber_Coffman/status/689736463290740736

H/T Consequence of Sound | Photo via Heathcliff Berru/Facebook

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*First Published: Jan 20, 2016, 3:58 pm