Now the state military college is doing some very public soul searching over whether the school indeed did its duty by nine young boys in the Charleston area who say they were abused by a man who once was a counselor at the school’s summer camp.
As authorities prepare to prosecute ex-counselor Louis ReVille for crimes allegedly committed after he left the school, the Citadel’s
president has acknowledged that the college should have contacted police in 2007 when a former camper told Citadel officials he had been abused by ReVille five years earlier. Instead, the college conducted its own internal investigation — which a school attorney hoped at the time would prevent a criminal investigation or a lawsuit, according to emails — but did not tell police.
The college has hired an outside firm to review how it handled the complaint and has also asked state Attorney General Alan Wilson to appoint a special counsel to investigate how the accusation was handled.
“At the time we took what we thought were the necessary steps. It’s now clear we should have done more,” the Citadel’s
president, retired Lt. Gen. John Rosa, said last week.
The school’s response to the abuse allegation “is unfortunately pretty typical,” said Ron Hughes, a psychologist and social worker who is president of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.
He said whether it be Penn State, where former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly assaulted children over the span of 15 years, or the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, many organizations think they can avoid publicity and conduct internal investigations of a complicated issue. That’s always a mistake, he said, adding that attorneys or administrators are just not equipped to investigate sex abuse allegations.
He said they have a bias toward believing and supporting their own staff. In addition, organizations tend to underestimate the psychological sophistication of sex
offenders and overestimate the ability of attorneys or other staffers to conduct complex child abuse investigations.
ReVille, 32, a Citadel
graduate, is charged with molesting nine youngsters when he was a teacher and coach in Charleston area schools, recreation programs and churches after leaving the Citadel. He was arrested in October and authorities say additional charges are expected.
When news of the arrest broke, The Citadel did not release information about ReVille’s time as a counselor. But then there was an about-face at the college whose cadets live by the code that a cadet doesn’t lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do.
They later acknowledged that ReVille reportedly lured campers into his room with Chinese food and pizza where he showed pornographic videos and the counselor and campers masturbated together.