published Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Gun company cuts ties with reality TV star after child rape charges

  • photo
    This Aug. 27, 2014, booking photo released by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office shows reality television star Will Hayden after he was arrested in East Baton Rouge Parish on a charge accusing him of raping a child.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

BATON ROUGE, La. —€” A Louisiana firearms company at the center of the reality TV show "Sons of Gun" distanced itself from the program's star this week after he was arrested on charges of repeatedly raping a child.

Will Hayden was arrested Tuesday. As of Thursday, Red Jacket Firearms said that "with heavy hearts," it had legally cut ties with him but would continue to operate.

"We are the heart and soul of Red Jacket and will remain steadfast in our commitment to quality and our customers, for years to come," a statement on its website said.

An email request for information from the company was not immediately answered.

After the arrest, The Discovery Channel canceled the show, citing "the serious and horrific nature of the charges" against the star.

Hayden remained in prison Thursday morning, jail records showed, with bail set at $250,000. He was arrested on aggravated rape charges involving a child, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office said. He already faced child molestation and aggravated crime against nature charges stemming from an arrest Aug. 9.

Hayden began having sex with the child, then 11 years old, in 2013, according to allegations in an affidavit filed by sheriff's deputies. The latest rape, the report said, happened in July.

A guardian of the victim contacted deputies Aug. 16. The victim confided to the guardian after Hayden's Aug. 9 arrest, according to the report.

Deputies said they met with the child and guardian and took a statement.

According to the affidavit, the child told deputies Hayden took her virginity when she was 11 years old and that sex acts happened almost daily thereafter.

The report says Hayden coerced the victim into silence with threats of physical abuse.

"Don't tell them nothing because I'm all you've got," the affidavit says the 49-year-old Hayden told the victim.

The Associated Press generally does not identify potential victims of sexual assault.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Hayden had an attorney

"Sons of Guns" began airing in 2011 and followed Hayden's family-owned custom firearms business. Episodes often showed Hayden and his adult daughter, Stephanie, helping customers find weapons, including rifles. Other scenes showed the process of making the guns, images from firing ranges, and ammunition tips.

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