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Singer Johnny Paycheck faces extradition for sex with minor

By
JACOB H. WOLF

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Country singer Johnny Paycheck, whose song 'Take This Job and Shove It' became a blue-collar anthem, faced charges today for having sexual relations with a 12-year-old girl in Wyoming last year.

Cole County Sheriff Wyman Basinger said Paycheck, 43, was arrested Sunday a few hours after giving a free concert at the Missouri State Penitentiary. He was released about midnight on $10,000 bond.

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Paycheck spent four hours in the crowded county jail, sharing a cell with four other prisoners after he was fingerprinted, photographed and booked on a warrant from Natrona County, Wyo., charging him with sexual assault of a minor.

'I can't get too specific, but he had some sexual relations with a female child about 12 years of age, at a home here in Casper,' Natrona County Attorney Burt Guetz said.

Asked if the alleged sexual act were voluntary, the prosecutor said: 'It would be closer to statutory rape.'

Guetz said the home belonged to a Casper resident and the alleged incident occurred last spring. Paycheck performed in Casper in April.

At the jail Sunday, Paycheck agreed to meet with a UPI reporter but refused to discuss the circumstances of his arrest.

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Wearing a gray county jail uniform and slippers, Paycheck appeared calm, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee as he talked. He said he was in the city with seven members of his group, and that, 'We had a good concert (at the penitentiary). We had a good one.'

Paycheck spent two years in a New Hampshire federal prison on desertion and escape charges in the 1960s. In the lean days before he made a name for himself as a singer and songwriter in Nashville, he was convicted of bouncing checks and theft.

He has spoken frankly in interviews about his troubles with drugs, drink and the law, and singing about them in songs like 'Cocaine Train,' 'Fifteen Beers' and 'Eleven Months and 29 Days,' about a sentence he served for forgery.

His most recent trouble with the law occurred on a plane from Denver to Wyoming that was halted on the runway so Paycheck and a band member could be ejected at a stewardess' request. A Frontier Airlines spokesman said she complained of 'physical contact with a flight attendant and indecent language.' Paycheck was questioned by police about the incident and released.

Patrolman Bob Riebold said two officers from the Wyoming Bureau of Investigation arrived in the city early Sunday to give the warrant to the Police Department.

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Police arrested Paycheck at a Holiday Inn about 6:30 p.m. Sunday, after he arrived on his luxury bus from the penitentiary. Authorities said the arrest was delayed until after the concert, which was closed to the news media and public, to avoid trouble with the inmates at the penitentiary.

The members of Paycheck's group told police that the singer has numerous problems with allegations because of his celebrity status.

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