Former Democratic State Senator Joe Haynes pleaded not guilty Monday to one count of felony sexual battery, WKRN News 2 reports.
Haynes, an 80-year-old Nashville area attorney, was arrested in May for an incident in July 2016. The alleged female victim told Metro police she had hired Haynes to help her with the estate of her recently deceased mother. She told police that Haynes grabbed her buttocks and tried to French kiss her.
“I’m not guilty of the charge,” Haynes told WKRN after his arraignment Monday. “I have great faith in the judicial system and I look forward to being vindicated.”
Haynes’ wife, Barbara, a retired Davidson County General Sessions and Circuit Court judge, was by her husband’s side Monday.
Monday’s arraignment took place in a Cheatham County courtroom because all Davidson County judges recused themselves from the case, as well as District Attorney Glenn Funk.
Cheatham County Judge David Wolfe, who heard Monday’s arraignment, will preside over the entire case. The prosecutor is District Attorney Stephen Crump of the 10th judicial district in East Tennessee.
Jim Weatherly, Haynes’ defense attorney, told WKRN that he hopes the trial will still take place in Nashville. A trial date has not been set yet.
“This judge has been appointed to handle the case as a result of all the judges in Davidson County recusing themselves, but that does not move the venue or the trial location from Davidson County. We prefer that it be held there,” Weatherly said.
Haynes served in the state Senate from 1985 to 2012. He represented the 20th district, which includes part of Davidson County. He chaired the Senate Democratic Caucus and served on several committees, including Ethics and Finance, Ways and Means.
A Sumner County native and University of Tennessee graduate, Haynes has been involved in numerous community organizations and served for years on the Goodlettsville City Commission, including in the role of vice mayor.