Last month, Will Hayden – star of the hit discovery show “Sons of Guns” – was arrested on juvenile rape charges. This week, a second alleged victim came forward.
Perhaps no one was more shocked than his co-star Joseph Meaux, the owner of the Red Jacket Firearms LLC, on which the show is based, and the holder of their ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) manufacturing license.
“At first it was very hard to believe… Somebody making these allegations to somebody that I knew, it was very shocking and very confusing at first,” Meaux told FOX411 in an exclusive interview. “Will vehemently denied them, said that [it was coming from] somebody with false allegations and there was no truth. I believed it. You don't want to believe somebody you have known over the last five years had the capability of doing that.”
Although Meaux says he had no prior knowledge of any alleged illicit activity involving minors, he has come to question Hayden’s character during their relationship.
“At one time I considered Will a friend, but looking back at it a lot of our interactions had ulterior motives from him -- manipulations and things. Seeing all the people stepping forward now, it really brings to light how much control he was trying to impart on everything around him,” the gun store owner continued. “Will had his on-screen persona and his off-screen persona. His off-screen persona tried to [live in] the reality show and that is what caused a lot of conflicts and problems. I wanted to have a true firearms manufacturing company. Will wanted to have a drama manufacturing company. Those two had a conflict.”
According to a TMZ report, Hayden’s eldest daughter Stephanie – who starred alongside her father on the now-defunct Discovery Channel series and initially came to his defense – will now go to the police to assist in his prosecution. She is set to appear on “Dr. Phil” on Thursday to share her story.
“Stephanie has some demons she has to work through right now, and I am going to be as helpful as I can because she needs that support and needs that room. I am fully behind her,” Meaux said. “I want to give my support to the people that have been damaged by Will. Especially the young ladies, they have had something taken from them that is irreplaceable. Will has damaged me but it is something I can get back. I am going to grow Red Jacket Firearms and we are going to continue as a company doing what we love.”
Meaux and his team at the Baton Rouge-based store are working overtime to ensure that both the company is not associated with the ongoing criminal investigation surrounding Hayden.
“Don't allow what Will Hayden has done to color the firearms industry or color Red Jacket Firearms. The family behind Red Jacket Firearms is still here, we are still doing all the cool stuff that you see on the show and more,” he said. “We have gotten out of the TV set building. The entire inventory is in one place; we will be able to continue forward with gunsmith workshops and other developments. No longer will we have Will Hayden’s drama.”
Hayden’s lawyer Frank Holthaus told FOX411 that he was not able to comment on any comments made by Meaux about their personal conflicts. Holthaus said unsubstantiated claims have been piling up against Hayden and he cautioned critics to “slow down and see what happens.”
He also referenced prominent rape cases which were proven to never have happened. Holthaus also pointed to the case of Dwayne Dail, who spent 18 years behind bars – convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl – but was released 2007 after new evidence proved he was not the attacker.
“Those are just the cases off the top of my head and the accusers were all vindicated,” he said. “Right now we have everyone piling up on Will Hayden, too.”
And despite the drama now plaguing the once successful Discovery program, Meaux isn’t ruling out a venture back into the reality television fold.
“We have had a lot of requests and interest with some more shows based around the team we have here. I am open to that and excited. It has been a big part of my life for the last five years,” he added. “Working on a reality show I have come to realize there is a lot of opportunity there. There are also a lot of problems that go with it but looking back I can see a lot of the manipulation and things Will was doing. Now that he is out of the picture, Red Jacket is going to be able to become a great company.”
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Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay