Citadel Child Molestation Scandal

As if we needed another child rape scandal involving a famous institution of higher learning . . .

As if we needed another child rape scandal involving a famous institution of higher learning . . .

Reuters (“In wake of Penn State, another college reveals abuse probe“):

In the wake of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, another university, The Citadel military college in South Carolina, revealed on Saturday that it had investigated accusations against a camp counselor but took no action.

The man has since been jailed on separate charges of molesting five boys in Mount Pleasant, near Charleston, South Carolina.

“We regret that we did not pursue this matter further,” Citadel President Lt. General John Rosa and Board of Visitors Chair Doug Snyder said in a statement.
The Citadel said it investigated four years ago accusations of inappropriate conduct with children by Louis Neal “Skip” ReVille, who was a counselor at the military school’s camp.

ReVille is a graduate of The Citadel, the college said, and worked as a counselor at the school’s camp for three summers between 2001 and 2003.

In 2007, a former camper at The Citadel Summer Camp informed the school that five years earlier, when he was 14, ReVille invited him and another boy into his room where the three watched pornography on ReVille’s computer and masturbated, college officials said.

“Because of the seriousness of the accusation, The Citadel’s general counsel conducted an investigation immediately, including traveling to the individual and his family and conducting an interview,” the statement said. “A thorough review of Mr. ReVille’s records revealed no other complaints, and interviews indicated that he was highly regarded by those at camp. His file included a clean background check conducted by an outside organization. Unlike his admissions to current charges, Mr. ReVille strongly denied the accusation.”

After graduation from The Citadel, ReVille was a principal at Coastal Christian Preparatory School and had coached sports for years at several area schools and recreation centers, police said. He was arrested in October on the child molestation charges.

This is a thin report but it sounds like, unlike Penn State, the Citadel took the matter seriously and that their regret is based on subsequent evidence of ReVille’s crimes, not covering up the ones they knew about. That the incident involved one of their graduates and took place at a camp they sponsored is significant. But, unlike the Penn State situation–where a credible adult witness personally witnessed someone raping a child and all parties from the university president on down thought the right action was to cover the matter up and facilitate the rape of additional children–the Citadel case involves an allegation from a child after the fact and an investigation that couldn’t corroborate said allegation.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Education, Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ben Wolf says:

    @James

    Is it ever a struggle for you to maintain any faith or hope in humanity?

  2. John Burgess says:

    I wonder whether an institution is truly capable of investigating itself when heinous allegations are raised against it. Why did the university do its own investigation instead of calling in the police, local or state?

    By doing its own investigation, Citadel left itself open to allegation–after it cleared the counselor–that the investigation was really a whitewash. Having the investigation conducted from the start by law enforcement saves the university from that tarnish, deserved or not.

  3. @John Burgess:

    Having the investigation conducted from the start by law enforcement saves the university from that tarnish, deserved or not.

    On the other hand though, if you report every allegation, no matter how uncredible, to law enforcement you end up with “the boy that cried wolf” problem, where the cops miss the serious claims because of the 95 investigations they already went through that ended up coming to nothing.

    Not the mention it becomes incredibly easy to ruin the careers of any co-worker you don’t like by starting child molestation rumors.

  4. Etaoin shrdlu says:

    Mr. Burgess, you obviously have never worked in law enforcement. No police agency would ever wish, “don’t bother us with child abuse allegations because of our workload”. The fact is, seldom do adult men come forward to claim abuse by a specific person. A trained police investigator can ferret out the truth during an interrogation, probing for inconsistencies in the complainant’s story. Similarly, he would also question the second boy separately to see if there’s corroboration.

    The common thread running through the child abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts, and these schools is that their highest priority was protection of the institution’s reputation, not the child. By the Citadel having its own lawyer, whose first obligation is to protect his client, conduct a so-called investigation internally instead of promptly reporting it to local law enforcement and DOE (as required by law), they left open opportunities for further child abuse by this predator. In that, they are just as wrong as the Penn State officials and ought to resign.

  5. @Etaoin shrdlu:

    No police agency would ever wish, “don’t bother us with child abuse allegations because of our workload”. The fact is, seldom do adult men come forward to claim abuse by a specific person.

    You don’t think these two facts have something to do with each other? Of course, right now, police don’t mind child abuse allegations, because they rarely get ones that haven’t already been filtered by some other organization first. Do you think they would feel the same way if they were forced to investigate hundreds of cases that never went anywhere for each case that proved to be true? And even if they wanted to do all those investigations, do you think they’d actually notice the one real case amoung the noise?

  6. mike says:

    @Etaoin shrdlu: That is certainly how I see it. This is a no win situation for the Citadel. Even if this lawyer – qualifications to run an investigation of child sex abuse unknown – conducts a thorough investigation, the Citadel is always going to look like it did a cover up. The lawyer’s job is to protect his/her client’s interests. The lawyer should have known better and reported it and let the authorities sort it out.

  7. @mike:

    The lawyer should have known better and reported it and let the authorities sort it out.

    I’m pretty sure that’s grounds for being disbarred…

  8. mike says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Not if his client is the institution. His client is not the counselor. Your right, he has to do what his client wants which is the Citadel. I guess I should have clarified and said he should have advised his client to report – which maybe he did – we don’t have all the facts. His client, though, is not the counselor’s individual wrongdoing unless it was promoted or aided by the institution which I am sure it was not.

  9. @mike:

    It doesn’t matter if he has an obligation to the counselor, he still only learned about the situation via a protected communication with his client, which means he can’t reveal it to the police.

  10. jimzwife says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Lawyers are mandated reporters of child abuse. The only lawyer who was bound by attorney-client privilege was the lawyer for the counselor. The school’s general counsel was not the lawyer for the counselor. Therefore, he was required by law to report, as were the school administrators.

  11. @jimzwife:

    In Virginia, lawyers are not in and of themselves mandated reporters, although this particular lawyer may be one since they work for a university. I can’t figure out if the madatory reporter law in Virginia trumps the priveleged communications law for lawyers. Privelege explicitly trumps for clergy, mandatory reporter explicitly trumps for doctors, but for lawyers the law doesn’t say either way.

  12. jimzwife says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    You’re right; that’s confusing. Unless there is an attorney-client relationship, there is no privilege. General counsel in the instance of The Citadel did not have an attorney-client relationship with the counselor (and clearly backstroked the school away from him as quickly as he could paddle) and failed to report a crime. If I were the school administration, I would promptly get new general counsel.

  13. Mike Rogers says:

    First, no one knows all the facts or how the victim came forward five years later to report an incident. Does the law require there to be a complaint by the victim at age 19? Do you report to the police if the victim has asked for and received confidentiality? Does the victim have to make a written statement and testify in court. If the other “witness” refuses to cooperate, do you have a case? Why wait 5 years? No excuse for Mr. Reville and he will probably spend many years, if not life in prison, where he will not be treated very well. I think we should all wait and see how the rest of the story develops.

  14. The Olive Pimpernel says:

    Mr. Rogers is right on. I was a cadet at The Citadel when ReVille was there, always thought he was on the fresh side, that he was gay, but WOW. There are a lot of questions to be answered, facts to be sorted, etc., but in the interim, he’s confessed to something (not sure what exactly) but by his own admissions, he’s probably going to be guilty of a lot of the charges brought against him. As to why people wait? Who knows- I’ve never been in that situation, and hope never will be, but human psychology is a mystery. Maybe someone else came forward and so that opened the gate where the alleged victim felt it was time to break his silence. In any event, this doesn’t bode well for The Citadel, it’s cadets or its Alumni. In a way, it humanizes the institution when the institution likes to sell itself as demi-god by design. In addition to the victimes whose lives he’s altered/ruined, he leaves behind a wife and children (at least I’m informed of such). Tragedy to the *nth degree.

  15. Tim Pandora says:

    Run-on sentence.