John Rich Stalking Case Sent to Grand Jury
Davidson County General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland ruled Wednesday (Jan. 8) that there was enough evidence to present to a grand jury in the case of Mark Christopher Sevier, who was arrested on June 23 and charged with stalking Rich after the singer claimed he had repeatedly violated multiple restraining orders.
He was arrested again on Sept. 4 and charged with aggravated stalking and criminal impersonation, after a 17-year-old employee at a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop claimed he had visited the store repeatedly and turned threatening when asked to leave.
Sevier was a practicing attorney until the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that he can’t practice law due to mental illness. Sevier suffers from PTSD as a result of his service in Iraq. He is currently in disability inactive status, but he chose to take the stand at Wednesday's hearing.
Nashville's Tennessean newspaper reports that Sevier engaged in a long, rambling series of musings about legal ethics, conspiracies and allegations of corrupt practices by lawyers, the Tennessee legal system and the media. Sevier has claimed that Rich has used his influence and wealth to persecute him because of their past differences.
The trouble between the two men goes back years, initially stemming from a lawsuit Sevier brought against Rich's corporate entities disputing ownership of two songs Sevier wrote with an artist named Shanna Crooks. That case was decided in Sevier’s favor, but then overturned in 2011 on appeal due to “abuse of discretion,” Taste of Country reports.
In court Wednesday, Sevier maintained that his repeated attempts to contact Rich centered on trying to resolve past litigation, and said that he was only trying to get in touch with the 17-year-old girl to offer her work in some videos a friend was producing for him.
“I believe that the standard of proof is not going to be met,” he said.
For his part, Rich testified Wednesday that he felt he had no choice but to prosecute Sevier after he allegedly mentioned the singer's children in an email.
“I said, ‘If you ever talk about my kids again, I will put you in jail,’” Rich said. “I had no farther back in the corner to step.”
A grand jury will now weigh the evidence in the case to determine whether it is sufficient to move forward with a trial.