General Sessions Judge Aaron Holt has dismissed the harassment and assault charges filed against country singer John Rich.
“I’m relived the story is now out there accurately. It’s a good feeling,” Rich said after Friday’s hearing.
The case centered on accusations lobbed by former Nashville Star contestant Jared Ashley who claimed Rich, who is one half of the country duo Big & Rich, belittled him and sucker-punched him at The Spot, Rich’s private bar on Lower Broadway.
He also claimed that ex-Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach and Rich left a harassing voicemail on his phone.
Rich took the stand in his own defense and gave a detailed account of the falling out he had with Ashley about five years ago.
“Mr. Ashley should have known not to have been in the building,” Rich said. “I did take a drink from Mr. Ashley’s hand and pushed him back, but at no point did I punch him in the jaw or stomach,” he testified.
Bill Ramsey, Rich’s attorney, had spent the better part of an hour trying to impugn the reputation of Ashley — portraying him as person only out to extort money from the musician.
He painted Ashley as pawn in a very bitter relationship between Rich and Chris Severe of Severe Records. Ramsey said Severe, who represented Ashley for a short time, is using Ashley as in his attempt to harm Rich’s character.
The country singer had more than a dozen witnesses prepared to testify including a flight attendant, a tour bus operator, Rich’s bodyguard and Fred “Two-foot Fred” Gill all took the stand to deny the alleged attack occurred.
Shawn Cooley who is a flight attendant, said “no punch was thrown.”
Colin Jason Somerville who is a member of The Spot and rents tour buses said, “Absolutely it did not happen.”
Judge Holt said Ashley had a stronger case on the harassment charge.
The key piece that led the dismissal may have been Ashley’s radio appearance where he said he thought it was cool that he was honored to get the call from.
“I don’t know who Sebastian Bach is,” Holt said. “I do know he doesn’t leave very nice voicemails, but it doesn’t look like Mr. Ashley was threatened.”