CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) – The Citadel, South Carolina’s military college, released documents on Monday linked to a 2007 internal probe of child abuse allegations brought by a former Citadel summer camper against a camp counselor.
The Charleston-based Citadel, in the wake of unrelated accusations of child sex abuse at Penn State involving a coach, had said on Saturday that it investigated the accusations against the counselor but did not report them to police.
The Citadel said it was now sharing all its information with police, and had hired a consulting firm to review the college’s procedures in the matter and recommend improvements.
The man at the center of the Citadel allegations, Louis Neal “Skip” ReVille, was arrested last month on separate charges of abusing five boys in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Police said he had admitted to the crimes, and more charges were pending.
A graduate of The Citadel, ReVille had worked as a counselor at the school’s camp for three summers between 2001 and 2003. The Citadel closed its camp in 2006. ReVille had also worked elsewhere as a school principal and sports coach.
“I am saddened and sickened that someone so close has betrayed our trust,” Citadel President John W. Rosa told a news conference on Monday.
In 2007, a former Citadel summer camper said that five years earlier, when he was 14, ReVille had invited him and another camper to his room, showed them pornography on his computer, and that they had masturbated.
In answer to questions, Rosa said: “This should have been reported (to police) … We’re profoundly sorry, sorry that we didn’t pursue it more. We acted on what we thought was our best information … We’re all held accountable.”
CITADEL COUNSEL INTERVIEWED ACCUSER
Rosa said the 2007 abuse complaint came to his office, and that The Citadel’s in-house counsel interviewed the young man and his family. He said that at the time, he did not believe he was among those professionals required by state law to report child sexual abuse.
Mandatory reporters under South Carolina law include school teachers, school counselors and school principals.
“The way I understand the law, in 2006 and 2007 we were not required to mandatorily report,” Rosa said. “That’s certainly no excuse. The law has been changed. Today we are.”
“Mr. ReVille is responsible for what happened to other victims,” Rosa said. “By not doing enough, we play a critical role in the events.”
The documents released by the college include a 160-page interview with the camper, who told The Citadel’s attorney Mark Brandenburg that he and other campers used to hang out in ReVille’s room “and then one night, he pulled out a pornographic video and put it in and started masturbating”.
“He encouraged everyone in the room to join in. And they did. And I guess he made an agreement with these kids that he would keep buying them Chinese food and pizza and all these good things and give them privileges if they continued to come to his room,” the interview document said.
Rosa said after the initial investigation by the college there was a breakdown in communication with the family. “They didn’t want to be a part of the Charleston gossip,” he said.
“There was no touching,” he said of the incident. In answer to a question, he said he did not know if showing pornography to a child in 2002 was a crime.
Julie Moore, a Charleston attorney who represents the victim and his family, said it was a crime.
“When they went to The Citadel in 2007, they wanted to make sure that there were no other victims of Skip ReVille. They didn’t want any other family to go through what they went through,” Moore said. “They are distraught and devastated.”
“The Citadel is wrong. They were obliged to report, legally,” she added.
In 2006, The Citadel settled a civil lawsuit by child victims of sex crimes by another Citadel summer camp counselor, U.S. Marine officer Michael Arpaio, for $3.8 million, said Jeff Perez, vice-president for external affairs. Arpaio was court-martialed by the U.S. Marine Corps, Perez said.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston)
Mochila insert follows.