Local News

Ex-UNC Official Denies Assault Allegation

Posted August 4, 2004

— A former chairman of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors called the assault charges filed against him a case of mistaken identity.

Ben Ruffin, 62, has been accused of simple assault and battery for an alleged incident with a 16-year-old girl in a hotel elevator in Hilton Head, S.C.

Ruffin, the first African-American chairman of the Board of Governors, was staying at the hotel at the time as he attended a conference. But he said he never was in the elevator with his accuser.

According to the arrest warrant, the teenager told deputies she got on the elevator about 3:30 p.m. on July 28 and that a man wearing a black dress shirt, black dress trousers and black shoes also got on. She claimed the man made a comment about her breasts and then inappropriately touched her.

She later pointed out Ruffin as the man, and a hotel security officer followed him to his room.

Ruffin reportedly told detectives he had not been alone in an elevator with a young woman but that he had worn a black shirt, black trousers and black sandals during the day.

"I thought they were satisfied that they had the wrong person," he said in a published report.

Ruffin serves as a consultant for the campaign to elect Erskine Bowles to The United States Senate.

The Bowles campaign said in a statement released Tuesday that: "Ben Ruffin has done a great job for the campaign and will continue to do so."

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