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    Country's John Rich Charged in Nashville Smackdown

    John Rich, Big and Rich Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images

    John Rich claims he didn't punch the lights out of an aspiring star.

    But the latter half of Big & Rich was charged Thursday with assault and harassment for allegedly smacking a former Nashville Star contestant in the face.

    Jared Ashley sued Rich over the alleged smackdown and the country rocker countersued for defamation in April, claiming Ashley muddied the Rich name by accusing him of such a thing.

    Rich turned himself into Nashville police today to be booked on two misdemeanor counts of assault and one count of harassment, after which he was released on a $2,000 bond.

    The "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" singer said in a statement afterward that the charges are false and that he rejected a $2.9 million settlement offer from Ashley to drop his lawsuit.

    "I trust that the truth will come out through the process of our American justice system and that I will be completely exonerated at the end of the day," he said.

    Big & Rich have been on hiatus while Big Kenny tends to a nagging injury, giving Rich time to release his second solo album, Son of a Preacher Man, in March.

    Former Danzig bassist Jerry Montano sued the duo's beleaguered half in November, saying he suffered severe injuries in a fight with Rich the month before.

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