Jury finds former 'Sons of Guns' reality star guilty of rape
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A jury has found Will Hayden, former Sons of Guns reality TV star, guilty on rape charges. The jury took just over an hour to deliberate.
Hayden was found guilty on both counts of aggravated rape and guilty on one count of forcible rape. The verdict was unanimous and comes with a mandatory life sentence. Hayden is accused of raping two young girls over the course of two decades.
"At the end of the day, this is the survivor's day today," said District Attorney Hillar Moore.
One of the alleged teen victims said the incident occurred in the 1990s when she was around 12 or 13-years-old. The other victim claims she was 12-years-old at the time of the alleged incident in 2014.
One of the victims left the courthouse with her family members and while they were not willing to speak with the media, Moore said her testimony, which was at some points nearly unbearable to witness, told it all.
"This was a young child that was raped at a very young age and she chose to testify in front of the jury, in front of her abuser, and she actually threw up five times while testifying."
It's that powerful testimony, combined with the accounts of others close to the case, that Moore believes made the difference. "Too often nowadays we see people who do not want to get involved. They turn their heads and look the other way. That did not happen in this case," Moore added.
Once the star of the Discovery Channel show, Sons of Guns, Hayden was arrested back in 2014 when the allegations first surfaced. One accuser said he raped her in the 90s when she was 12 or 13. Another victim said she was just 12 when he took advantage of her in 2014. Moore says the damage to the families is beyond repair.
"How do you piece these families together again the way that this man fractured this entire family? I can't even imagine family events like weddings or graduations. Can you even have a wedding, can you even graduate with this on your mind," Moore asked.
During the final hours of the trial, the prosecution called their final witness, an expert in child abuse. That expert said she conducted a physical exam on the now 15-year-old victim and she didn't find anything "unusual or striking," that would neither prove or disprove physical abuse. However, the victim's genital area was consistent with sexual activity. She also noticed "self-inflicted cut marks on both victim's arms and lower right leg."
In her testimony on Tuesday, April 4, the now 15-year-old testified that Hayden "ruined her life" when he forced her into a sexual relationship. She also claims to have turned to smoking, drinking alcohol, and cutting to deal with the emotional pain.
The expert went on to say that is a common sign of someone dealing with turmoil. Attempts to speak with defense attorneys after the verdict was announced were unsuccessful.
Hayden is expected to be sentenced on May 11. He could face life imprisonment on at least two of the charges.
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