MUSIC EXCLUSIVE: Tennessee Rap Legend Haystak Faces Attempted Sexual Abuse Charges
Haystak publicity photo from Global Alliance.
Haystak, 41, faces a felony charge of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse for allegedly trying to molest a woman at a concert in Iowa last month, according to police.
Despite the potential seriousness of the charge (he could face up to five years in prison if convicted) he intends to fight the allegations “tooth and nail,” according to his manager, Shawn Nunes of the entertainment company Global Alliance.
Haystak will return to Iowa when a court date is set and he plans to contest the charge through every step of the legal process, Nunes said.
“He is at home resting, enjoying himself,” Nunes said. “He is getting re-established and his feet back on the ground.”
The alleged victim couldn’t be reached for comment despite repeated attempts to locate her. Her name isn’t being released because it’s the policy of the Hard Knox Independent to not publicly identify the victims of alleged sex crimes.Haystack, a Nashville native, rose to prominence in the early 2000s along with other white rap artists such as Eminem and Bubba Sparxxx. His trademark blend of hip-hop, rock and urban country has helped define the Southern rap genre through hits such as “All By Myself” and “Nashville.”
Haystak’s legal morass began at a bar just outside Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he performed at a concert with several other artists, according to Lt. Dwayne Riche of the Pottawattamie County (Iowa) Sheriff’s Office.
During the show, Haystak allegedly tried to sexually assault a 31-year-old woman, Riche said.
“We cannot give out a lot of details,” he added, citing the need to protect the integrity of the legal process and the victim’s identity.
The company that staged the Iowa show, Pain Management Inc., described what happened at the show as “an unfortunate incident.”
“At this time we cannot divulge any specific details as there is an ongoing investigation,” the statement said. “What we can … say is that we are deeply saddened by the circumstances and have taken action to ensure that it is not repeated in the future. Once we were made aware as to what had happened, the situation was addressed immediately and in the best interest of all involved.”
Haystak had left Iowa by the time a warrant was issued for his arrest but it didn’t take long for the law to catch up with him after he showed up in Kansas City for a Nov. 20 concert.
Kansas City police officers had learned that Haystak was a wanted man and showed up at The Scene nightclub to take him into custody, according to police reports. Police found hydrocodone and Xanax pills in his pockets along with a pill bottle and he told the officers he had legal prescriptions for the drugs.
Haystak was jailed without bond in Kansas City pending extradition until his release this morning. Court records indicate that he was never charged in connection with the pills although the arresting officers had initially placed him under an “investigative hold for possession of a controlled substance.”
Nunes said no charges were filed because Haystak was completely within his rights to carry his lawful prescriptions with him. “He takes Norco for his pain,” Nunes said.
Haystak was scheduled to perform Nov. 23 in Knoxville at NV Nightclub in the Old City along with Jelly Roll and several other acts but the show was canceled at the last minute. For several weeks afterward, the only public statements about Haystak or his whereabouts came from his wife when she asked fans on Facebook to pray for his well-being and respect his privacy.
“This is a private matter and should be treated as such,” she said in a recent post. “He’ll poke his head out as soon as he can.”
a score of albums capitalizing on his image as a portly white rap artist who helped create the underground “hick-hop” movement.
Fueled by his struggles with poverty and violence, Haystak’s songs and videos have garnered controversy while attracting more than 30 million hits on YouTube. Songs like “All By Myself,” “Nashville” and “Bonnie and Clyde” helped him build a large Internet fan base despite the fact he’s rarely had major label support. “My First Day,” a track from the 2006 album Portrait of a White Boy, has become a recovery anthem due to its intimate depiction of opiate withdrawal.
The 2011 album Strictly Business, a collaboration with fellow Nashville rapper Jelly Roll, rose to 67 on the Billboard 200 Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart and peaked at 16 on the Top Heatseekers Album Chart, according to Allmusic.com.
Haystak also had a minor speaking role in the critically acclaimed 2005 film Hustle and Flow.
This isn’t the first time Haystak (whose real name is Jason Bryan Winfree) has run into trouble with the law. He isn’t shy, for instance, about describing his first arrest at the age of 15 for possessing pills and cocaine.
He was accused of statutory rape in Nashville in 1997 but the charge was later reduced to misdemeanor assault and he successfully completed a one-year term of probation, according to the Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk’s Office.
In May of this year he was charged with assault in Wilson County but was granted judicial diversion, which means the charge will be dropped if he stays out of trouble for a year, according to the Wilson County Court Clerk’s Office. It wasn’t immediately clear if the pending charge in Iowa will affect his diversionary status.By Mechi Matlock, urban music correspondent