Former Oglethorpe County Sheriff William "Ray" Sanders and his son-in-law face assault charges for allegedly beating another man with a baseball bat last month at Sanders' daughter's home in Comer, Ga.
Sanders, 71, and Steven Bryant Hill, 34, each were charged with aggravated assault after an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith said.
The men surrendered to authorities at the county jail last week; Sanders was released on a $20,000 bond and Hill was released on a $40,000 bond, the sheriff said.
Smith would not discuss the case, explaining he once worked as a deputy under Ray Sanders - who did not run for re-election in 2000 after 16 years as Oglethorpe County's sheriff - and that he asked the GBI to investigate to remove any appearance of conflict of interest.
Jim Fullington, special agent in charge of the GBI's Athens office, only would say the investigation determined Hill had assaulted Justin Griffith of Lexington and that Ray Sanders was a "party to the crime."
According to a deputy's report, Griffith and his son were visiting with Ray Sanders' daughter, Dale, the night of May 15. Her husband and father showed up, and Ray Sanders pointed at Griffith and told Hill to "kill that son of a bitch," according to Griffith's account to deputies.
Hill struck him in the head with a baseball bat, Griffith said, and Ray Sanders grabbed Griffith's son, pulled him to the door and pushed him down steps, according to the report.
Griffith's son helped his father to their truck and they drove away, according to the report.
Dale Sanders and Hill were separated at the time of the attack, she said, when Griffith - a childhood friend whose mother had just died - asked if he could come over to talk.
After Griffith arrived with his son, her father and husband came to check on her, and Hill "pitched a fit" when he saw another man was there, she said.
Hill pummeled Griffith with his fists, not a bat, she said.
"My husband did have a baseball bat in his hand, but when he came around in the kitchen and saw Justin and me, he flung the bat down and started beating on him," Dale Sanders said.
"It's a lie that my daddy said to 'kill that son of a bitch,' " she said. "My daddy's the one who pulled (Hill) off Justin to keep him from killing him."
The former sheriff also didn't push the victim's son down the stairs, Dale Sanders said.
"My daddy grabbed him by the arm and said, 'Come outside, you don't need to be in there' " while Hill beat Griffith, she said.
Griffith's son drove him to Athens Regional Medical Center, where doctors treated him for a concussion, a broken nose and other facial injuries, according to the deputy's report. Someone at the hospital reported the assault to authorities the next afternoon.
Dale Sanders sent a text message to Griffith while he was in the emergency room, apologizing for the attack, telling him he should press charges against her father and husband, and warning him to stay away from her so that he didn't get hurt, according to the police report.
She sent Griffith an apology, Dale Sanders said, but didn't encourage him to press charges.
"I texted him to ask if he was all right and that I was sorry about what happened, and told him not to come back," Dale Sanders said.