Citadel says it should have pursued abuse report

AP News
Posted: Nov 14, 2011 9:04 PM
Citadel says it should have pursued abuse report

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ The Citadel's president said Monday that South Carolina's state military college lost public trust by not aggressively pursuing a 2007 report of sexual abuse allegedly committed at its former summer camp by an ex-counselor.

"At the time we took what we thought were the necessary steps. It's now clear we should have done more," said the Citadel's president, retired Lt. Gen. John Rosa. Information was not turned over to police after an internal investigation but should have been, Rosa added.

"The Citadel has lost public trust," Rosa said, noting the information from that 2007 report has since been brought before police. "We're all accountable."

The college received a complaint that year about an alleged incident five years earlier involving a camper at the camp where Louis ReVille, a Citadel graduate who is now 32, was serving as a counselor, according to Rosa.

According to a redacted statement the school released Monday, the victim said the counselor lured campers into his room with offers of Chinese food and pizza. There he showed pornographic videos and the counselor and campers allegedly masturbated together, it added.

Rosa said a Citadel attorney tried in 2007 to contact other campers mentioned by the alleged victim, but they did not want to speak. He said ReVille had a clean background check, was a decorated Citadel cadet and denied the allegations.

ReVille later went on to work with hundreds of children as a teacher and coach in Charleston area schools, recreation programs and churches. He was arrested last month on five counts of allegedly sexually abusing boys whom he subsequently coached, according to authorities. ReVille is in jail on a $1 million bond and his attorney, Craig Jones, said at a bond hearing on those counts that his client is "extremely remorseful" for any pain caused.

Rosa said he doesn't think The Citadel incident is comparable to the child sex-abuse scandal involving a former assistant football coach at Penn State, Jerry Sandusky. Authorities say Sandusky allegedly assaulted eight children over a 15-year span. Sandusky's attorney said he's innocent.

"What they are experiencing at Penn State and what we are experiencing down here although similar, are much different," Rosa said.

Rosa was asked Monday if the school's failure to turn the information from the 2007 complaint over to police had harmed the other victims.

"Mr. ReVille is responsible for what happened to other victims," Rosa said. "But I can tell you by not doing enough we played a critical role."

However an attorney for the alleged victim at the Citadel camp, which has since closed, said that if the school had gone to the police, the other incidents would never have happened. The camp at one point hosted as many as 500 schoolchildren during the summer.

"The family I represent is distraught beyond description," attorney Mullins McLeod said. He said the family lives out of state and the victim's father was a Citadel graduate.

Rosa said the college was not required to report the incident to police at the time. But McLeod disagreed, saying a state reporting law has been in effect since 1981.