Sheriff speaks out after lawsuit, $35K settlement - FOX Carolina 21

Sheriff speaks out after lawsuit, $35K settlement

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LAURENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Almost a year after a lawsuit was brought against Laurens County Sheriff Ricky Chastain, the case has been settled, and the sheriff has shared his thoughts publicly.

Chastain released a statement Sunday describing what he said happened between him and a woman who he had an extramarital affair with who then sued him alleging discrimination, and apologizing for his actions.

"I deeply regret my actions. Unless you've been down this road before, no one will really ever know the personal pain it still causes me today."

The woman filed the lawsuit in June 2011, saying she was forced out of her job at the sheriff's office following her relationship with Chastain. Chastain admits they had a relationship between 2008 and 2010.

According to the lawsuit, the woman was pregnant with Chastain's child in July 2010, but he convinced her to have an abortion and drove her to a clinic in Charlotte where he paid to have it done.

The lawsuit also named other employees and the county, saying the County Administrative Staff knew of the relationship and should have prevented it.

Chastain maintains he did not force the woman out of her job, but his legal counsel decided to settle the case for $35,000 last week.

He admitted to using his sheriff's car to take the woman to Charlotte, but she did not have a medical procedure there. Chastain said the woman was given a pill to terminate her pregnancy, and that he is pro-life.

In response to using his county vehicle to take her to Charlotte, Chastain said, "It certainly is not one of the smartest decisions I have made, but it is one of those that I must live with. There is no criminal violation for the use of the vehicle."

In his public statement Sunday, Chastain apologized for his actions, which brought county  employees into the suit who had no knowledge of his relationship. He also said he did not force or discuss another abortion with the woman when she said she was pregnant a second time.

Chastain said he told his wife and family of his affair Oct. 9, 2010. He said his wife called the woman to tell her they would raise the child but in Nov. 2010, he received a text message from the woman that said she would have an abortion.

"In conclusion, let me state again, I, and I alone, take responsibility for my actions," said Chastain. "My staff and the County of Laurens had no role in my shortcomings."

Since the lawsuit was settled, no public comment has been made from the woman he had the relationship.

Chastain is running for re-election against several other candidates.

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