Ex-councilman sues Aiken sheriff for arrest, incarceration

AIKEN – A former Aiken County councilman is asking for $20 million in damages in a lawsuit filed against Sheriff Michael Hunt and other county officials.

Russ Ferrara said he was falsely arrested and imprisoned in 2005 after a 13-year-old girl accused him of fondling her. The suit filed in Aiken County Court states that the Sheriff’s Office charges were false and malicious and lacked probable cause.

The 80-page lawsuit says Mr. Ferrara’s arrest was the “most shocking and alarming episodes of premeditated law enforcement and prosecutorial misconduct in Aiken County’s history.(…)”

The suit filed July 1 also names Prosecutor Brenda Brisbin, then-Solicitor Barbara Morgan and Charles Cain, a sheriff's investigator.

Mr. Ferrara also contends the Sheriff’s Office kept him in unhealthy conditions while in the Aiken County jail in 2006 and made him pay for his GPS monitoring while under house arrest for two and a half years. The system cost $498 a month.

In June 2005, the Savannah River Site engineer was arrested on charges that he committed a lewd act on a minor. A year later, he was again arrested on accusations that he fondled a tenant of his Aiken apartment complex near Banks Mill Road and asked the 23-year-old for sex in lieu of rent.

The state dismissed all charges in 2008 citing issues with the case, including credibility issues with the victim.

Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Capt. Troy Elwell said the office and Sheriff Hunt do not comment on pending lawsuits.

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