Arrest made in assault


A man charged with the sexual assault and robbery of a college student was free on probation after being convicted of cocaine possession, records show.

Jamarriel Theron Ferrell, 21, of Nassau Street is accused of sexually assaulting a young woman Nov. 10 after demanding money from her on Coming Street, police said.

Officers arrested Ferrell on Wednesday afternoon at a West Ashley car wash where he works, police spokesman Charles Francis said. Ferrell, who ran from officers but was captured quickly, is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and armed robbery, he said.

Ferrell is being held without bail in the Charleston County jail on the sexual assault charge. Magistrate Priscilla Baldwin set bail at $250,000 on the robbery charge.

The victim told police she was walking on Coming Street about 10:10 p.m. when a man grabbed her from behind, forced her into a parking lot and placed an object to her back that she thought was a gun, according to an arrest affidavit. He demanded money and threatened to kill her if she didn't stay quiet, the affidavit states.

The robber punched her in the head and eye several times and choked her with his hands before forcing her to perform a sex act, an arrest affidavit states.

DNA evidence examined by the State Law Enforcement Division's crime lab linked Ferrell to the crime, police said.

Investigators waited until Thursday to announce the arrest because they first wanted to show Ferrell's photo to other potential victims before his image appeared in the newspaper and on television, Francis said.

Ferrell isn't charged in a second, similar attack that occurred a short time after the Coming Street assault. In that incident, a woman was walking on Radcliffe Street near King Street when a man grabbed her from behind. She fought off the attacker and ran away. She was not injured, police say.

Francis said that incident remains under investigation.

Ferrell's criminal record dates to May 2006, when Charleston police charged him with cocaine possession. It's unclear from SLED records whether he was convicted of that charge.

He was arrested again on a cocaine charge in August 2008, and a month later was among 19 suspects named in a sweeping drug investigation conducted by Charleston police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Ferrell landed in court in December and was convicted of the cocaine possession charge from the August 2008 arrest, SLED records show. He received a one-year suspended sentence and a year of probation. Prosecutors later dismissed the crack cocaine distribution charges that resulted from the police/DEA probe, records show.