Kirt Webster, the powerful Nashville publicist recently brought down by widespread allegations of sexual assault, has been named Publicist of the Year for 2017 by PR News.

According to Nashville's Tennessean newspaper, the announcement came during a luncheon earlier this week at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., which was organized by PR News, an industry organization for PR professionals.

As the head of Webster PR, Webster has been one of the most powerful players in the music business in Nashville for decades, with a client list that included Dolly PartonKenny RogersHank Williams, Jr.Tanya Tucker, the Oak Ridge Boys, Kid Rock, Justin Moore and many more. His empire collapsed in November after former aspiring country singer Austin Rick accused Webster of repeatedly sexually assaulting him from 2007-2008, when he was a client of Webster PR.

These Artists Left Webster PR Amid Allegations

It's not clear if the winners were chosen before or after the news broke of the allegations against Webster. A press release about the awards currently does not include Webster's name or any mention of his win, listing only Publicist of the Year runner-up Lacey Haines in that category. Nashville's WSMV news tracked down the original post that listed Webster as the winner. Multiple calls Taste of Country made to PR News have not been returned.

After Rick came forward with his story, a long string of former employees shared stories of a "toxic" working environment at Webster PR that was rife with constant sexual assault and harassment, as well as other forms of abuse. A total of 22 people have come forward to accuse Webster of sexual harassment or assault since Rick's allegation came to light. Webster stepped down from the company in November, with many former staffers moving on to start their own firms.

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