Local News

Singer Pleads Guilty; Gets Probation in Bar Incident

Posted September 28, 2007 11:38 a.m. EDT
Updated September 28, 2007 6:41 p.m. EDT

— Country-rock-rap artist Uncle Kracker pleaded guilty Friday to misdemeanor assault on a female and was sentenced to a year of probation in connection with an incident last month at a downtown Raleigh nightclub.

Police arrested the singer, whose real name is Matthew Shafer, on Aug. 17 at the Embassy Suites in Cary after a 26-year-old woman accused him of committing a sex act against her at the Ess Lounge at 326 W. Davie St. in Raleigh. He was charged with felony second-degree forcible sex offense.

Judge Craig Croom sentenced the entertainer to a 60-day suspended jail sentence, alcohol assessment and a $1,500 fine. Because of his career, Shafer, 33, will be allowed to travel. He will serve his probation in Michigan, where he lives.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Adam Moyers said Shafer, 33, who was in town for a performance at a downtown depot party, stumbled down some steps, put his hand under the woman's skirt and touched her "buttocks and vaginal area."

"She turned around, Mr. Shafer was standing behind her, they exchanged some words, and she slapped him, at which point, he slapped her back," Moyers said.

Police said the two did not know each other.

Known for songs such as the 2001 single "Follow Me" and a 2002 cover of the 1973 Dobie Gray single "Drift Away," Shafer was originally jailed under a $5 million bond after he told officers he would immediately leave North Carolina to avoid prosecution.

A judge later reduced the bond to $75,000, saying the higher amount was outside the guidelines for the charge Shafer faced.

Shafer's plea to the lesser charge is an Alford plea, which allows a defendant to plead guilty while still maintaining his innocence. It acknowledges that there is evidence against him for a judge or jury possibly to convict him.

"He didn't want this thing to drag on anymore. He maintains that he didn't do anything intentionally," Shafer's defense attorney, James Crouch, said. "He regrets the entire situation."