On Monday afternoon, attorney Mullins McLeod announced that he was filing six lawsuits on behalf of three victims who said they had been abused by former Mt. Pleasant teacher and coach Louis "Skip" ReVille, a Citadel graduate who was first accused in 2007 of sexually abusing boys at the school's summer camp. The defendants: ReVille, The Citadel, and school president Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa.
For ReVille, the lawsuits came after months of public scrutiny. He was arrested in October and has so far been accused of molesting 22 boys in the past 10 years, and the lawsuit comes on top of the 305-year maximum prison sentence he faces if convicted of five counts of second-degree criminal misconduct with a minor (up to 20 years for each count), 12 counts of committing a lewd act on a minor (up to 15 years for each count), and five counts of dissemination of obscene material to a minor (up to five years for each count).
But for the other defendants, the lawsuits outline new accusations: that Citadel officials knew about ReVille's behavior as early as 2002 and did nothing to stop or report him, and that Rosa knew about allegations of sexual misconduct by ReVille at Summerville's Pinewood Preparatory School in 2007. An earlier lawsuit against the Citadel was filed in December by a parent who said her child was sexually abused by ReVille in the fall of 2007 after the Citadel learned of other sex abuse allegations in May 2007. The school's attorney has filed a response to that lawsuit, but the case is still in its early stages.
"If you think about it, in the battle of childhood sexual relations, institutions — our daycare centers, our schools — they play an important role in the prevention," McLeod said at a press conference in the Mills House Hotel Monday. "Because predators don't raise their hands and say, 'Hey, I'm abusing children,' and children, studies show, remain quiet for fear of scorn, public humiliation, what have you, and in fact studies show that predators are able to pick the students or the children who they know won't tell — so it's the institutions that play a very important role in the defense against childhood sexual abuse."
Three of the lawsuits filed on Monday list the Citadel as the defendant, two are against Rosa, and a sixth is against ReVille and Major William Bates, the former director of the Citadel summer camp. Dawes Cooke, the school's legal counsel, represents the defendants in all six of the new lawsuits. He says that parts of the lawsuits are "inflammatory" and untrue, particularly the allegation that Rosa and the Citadel's administration knowingly covered up a sexual abuse scandal.
"Nobody at the Citadel had any idea of what ReVille was doing," Cooke says. The school conducted an internal investigation of the matter when a former camper came forward with accusations in 2007, but Cooke says the school could find no corroboration for the ex-camper's story.
According to McLeod, all three of the victims he represents were 10 to 14 years old at the time of their alleged abuse. In the complaints, their names are rendered as John Doe 1, 2, and 3 for privacy's sake. Here are the important points from each of the complaints:
These lawsuits were filed on behalf of a victim who was 14 years old in the summer of 2002 when, he says, ReVille sexually abused him and about five other boys at the Citadel Summer Camp in the summer of 2002. At the residential camp, which was in operation from 1957 to 2006, campers and counselors stayed in the dorms on the Citadel's campus. According to the victim, whose complaint was thoroughly detailed in a July 2007 inquiry by the school's in-house counsel, ReVille promised him and the other boys Chinese food and pizza if they would sneak past nighttime hall monitors and come into his room. Once they were inside, he says, ReVille showed them pornographic videos on his computer and pulled down his pants to masturbate. The victim says that when ReVille told him to masturbate, he at first stood up and said he was tired, but then he returned and complied. The school shared the details of the accusation with its insurance carrier, which is administered by a branch of the State Budget and Control Board, but it did not hand the details over to law enforcement.
A new accusation in the state lawsuit is that the school knew about ReVille's behavior long before 2007 — rather, the complaint says, ReVille confessed to Citadel public safety officers in 2002 that he had sexually abused children at the camp, and the school failed to have him arrested. Public safety officials are state-commissioned law enforcement officers and thus bound by the state's mandatory-reporter laws that require members of certain professions to report all accusations of child sexual abuse.
School attorney Dawes Cooke says that public safety officers from the time period claim there is no truth to the story of ReVille's 2002 confession. "It didn't happen, it wouldn't happen, and there's no record of that happening," Cooke says.
The state complaint accuses the Citadel of negligence for failing to institute or enforce safeguard policies after the school found out that another counselor, Marine Capt. Michael Arpaio, had abused campers from 1995 to 2001. The on-campus housing arrangements remained unchanged after the school found out about Arpaio's offenses in the summer of 2001. The Citadel is also accused of failing to monitor counselors' computer use.
According to the federal complaint, Major William Bates, who was director of the summer camp from 1998 to 2002, recommended or selected ReVille to become senior counselor at the camp in 2002. McLeod writes that, after the accusations against Arpaio arose in 2001, Bates "failed to properly respond to the sexual abuse that was occurring and demonstrated a deliberate indifference to or tacit authorization for Plaintiff to be sexually abused by ReVille." He also writes that ReVille, then a state employee, violated the plaintiff's Fourteenth-Amendment right to due process by violating his "constitutionally protected right to bodily integrity."
These lawsuits are about what ReVille did after he stopped working at the Citadel in 2007. According to the complaints, a second John Doe victim was 12 years old when ReVille started showing him pornographic photos and videos. The plaintiff says ReVille later showed him how to masturbate and began frequently performing oral sex on him. John Doe 2 says that ReVille created a fraternity for young boys that he called the Killers, with each member being given a nickname based on the size and shape of his genitals. As part of the initiation into the Killers, the plaintiff says ReVille forced him to suck peanut butter off of his penis. All of this happened after the Citadel had heard the accusations against ReVille in 2007 (and heard ReVille's own confession in 2002, according to the lawsuit) and done nothing to report him or keep him from working with children at future workplaces. The plaintiff says ReVille sexually abused him over 100 times in the course of 18 months. He kept quiet about what happened for nearly four years, finally telling police and his parents about what had happened in late 2011 after the media started reporting on ReVille. In the intervening time, the plaintiff struggled in school, found it difficult to maintain close relationships with friends and family, had trouble sleeping, and became depressed to the point that he thought about taking his own life.
Records show that ReVille was a cadet at the Citadel from 1998 to 2002 and worked as a camp counselor there during the summers of 2000 to 2004. Later, ReVille signed a contract to teach in the school's Center for Academic Enrichment from August 16, 2006, to June 30, 2007, and on April 24, 2007, records show that the school had in its possession a handwritten note reading, "Skip was asked to leave Pinewood Prep (knowing look)." There is no indication of who wrote the note. The federal complaint says that ReVille was fired as a Citadel faculty member two months before his contract was set to finish, and it says Rosa and other Citadel employees tried to cover up the reason for his removal by classifying it as a "mutually satisfactory release."
The complaints allege that the Citadel violated not only state laws but its own internal policies in its failure to report the allegations of abuse. At this point in the complaint, McLeod writes that ReVille could have been stopped if Rosa had taken the same sorts of steps he took in his previous role as superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy, quoting Rosa in an interview from Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer in October 2003 about the Academy's sexual abuse reporting policy:
"You report a crime. That way, you have a victim. The commander — it's in the chain of command. The commander knows that we have a victim. We can preserve evidence, take care of that victim, preserve evidence so that as the trauma passes, we can bring the appropriate action to the alleged perpetrator."
When Rosa took over as superintendent at the Air Force Academy in 2003, he arrived in the wake of what courts showed was a systematic cover-up of the rapes of dozens of female cadets at the school. Citadel attorney Dawes Cooke says Rosa's record at the Air Force Academy makes him "the least likely person in the United States to cover up or condone sexual abuse."
In the federal complaint, Rosa is accused of offering John Doe Camper hush money after he came forward with accusations against ReVille in 2007. The Citadel's records do not indicate that this was necessarily the case. In fact, a transcript of a conversation between the Citadel's legal counsel and the camper's family shows that the camper's father, a Citadel alumnus, said he did not want to sue the school, but he asked if the school would help his son to enroll as a student after getting poor grades in high school.
"I think this young man deserves for the Citadel to take another look at him," the father said. Later, he added, "And — and that's — you know — but it's up to him. He's an adult. But for me, I think the Citadel was — was part of the root cause. I think that it can be part of the root cause to fix him. And, you know, I think it's a very inexpensive way for the Citadel to say, do you know what? We'll fix our own. We'll — we'll — we'll keep this within — within a family, and off we go."
According to these lawsuits, ReVille started grooming a third victim for "what became an escalating pattern of sexual abuse" when he was 10 years old — and as in the John Doe 2 case, John Doe 3 says he was abused after the Citadel let ReVille go. The plaintiff says ReVille showed her son how to masturbate after exposing him to porn. Things got worse from there, and she says ReVille did the following things to her son:
• played games of Truth or Dare in which he forced the victim to maintain an erection while watching homosexual pornography and while standing in a cold shower
• convinced the victim that if he allowed ReVille to perform oral sex on him, his penis would increase in size, making him more attractive to girls as an adult
• told the victim that if ReVille performed oral sex on him and his penis grew to a certain length by his eleventh birthday, he would be rewarded with a new set of skateboard wheels
• forced him to suck peanut butter off of ReVille's penis
In the federal complaint, Rosa is accused of working with other Citadel employees in a "conspiracy to conceal" the original complaint by John Doe Camper. As in the John Doe 2 case, the plaintiff says Rosa offered hush money to the camper's family, assured the camper that the school would investigate ReVille's actions and report him to law enforcement, and instead asked the school's insurance carrier how best to keep the allegations against ReVille out of the media spotlight. According to the complaint, Rosa kept silent about his knowledge of ReVille's abuse from 2002 until November 2011, when public pressure and a Freedom of Information Act request from The Post and Courier forced the school to release the records of its 2007 internal investigation.