Sexual Battery Complaint Filed Against Former Music Publicist Heathcliff Berru
Musician Yasmine Kittles has filed a criminal complaint against former publicist Heathcliff Berru, alleging sexual battery. Kittles, a member of the band Tearist, says she has a complaint against former Life and Death PR and Management CEO Heathcliff Berru, according to the L.A. Times. Kittles was one of several women who came forward accusing the Life or Death founder of sexual harassment earlier this year.
Kittles posted about the filing on her Facebook page, writing that she knew she had to do more than just talk about Berru's alleged behavior after seeing just how many women had stories about him.
He has to be stopped and others like him have to know that women will report them. We have to stop the cycle. It will not be easy, and it's scary as hell. But we have the power to change things... if we want to.
Kittles first spoke out about Berru on Twitter back on January 18, after Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman tweeted about a "popular music publicist" who she said had once rubbed her butt and bit her hair at a bar. She said that she'd heard several stories about the same guy from other women, but that everyone was too afraid to speak up or overlooked it. "Tired of sketchy ass dudes and sexual predators getting a pass from their 'bros.' Grow a spine and hold your friends accountable," she tweeted. Several other women—including Best Coat's Beth Cosentino, former MTV VJ Shirley Braha, musician Roxy Lange, and PR firm Danger Village's Beth Martinez—soon also spoke out against Berru. Martinez said she suspected him or someone in his group of slipping her roofies. Kittles responded with a story about an alleged encounter with Berru that occurred at her L.A. home.
The L.A. County District Attorney's office said that the complaint will be investigated by the LAPD, who may submit their findings to the DA's office for any felony charges, or the L.A. City Attorney's office for any misdemeanor charges, according to Billboard.
Berru resigned as CEO of Life Or Death on January 19, the day after Coffman's catalytic tweet. He also issued a statement in which he seemed to blame his alleged behavior on a drug and alcohol problem, and said he'd be checking himself into rehab. Berru gave a phone interview to Brooklyn Magazine from rehab in February, in which he called his behavior "wildly inappropriate, hurtful and terrible" but denied ever raping or drugging anyone.
Life Or Death PR and Management has since dissolved, with former employees starting a new company, Liberal Arts, on their own. Duncan Will, a former senior publicist with Life or Death, told Billboard that he had been unaware of any problems with Berru prior to Coffman's tweet.
No one has ever said anything to us before Amber [Coffman] came out, but I believe her and applaud her in doing so. That’s the point we became aware of it, and that’s when friends came to us and said, “Hey, there was actually this thing with me, and I never said anything about it.” Those stories -- from people I interact with a lot in the industry -- were horrifying to hear. I was really shocked.