Poston was Arpaio character witness
The former Wando High School teacher who recently ignited a furor by showing a sexually explicit video clip to students previously served as a key character witness for a Marine accused of molesting boys at The Citadel's summer camp.
Christopher Poston was senior counselor at the military college's summer camp in 2001 when Charleston police came calling to investigate a molestation complaint filed against Marine Capt. Michael Arpaio, a volunteer with the program.
A 10-year-old boy had accused Arpaio of fondling him while they slept in the same bed in a campus room where Arpaio was staying.
Police interviewed several campers and counselors, including Poston, who shared a room with Arpaio for about a week and a half during the three-week session that year, according to police reports obtained by The Post and Courier through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Poston was not implicated in the episode, and Citadel attorney Dawes Cooke said the college never received any complaints about Poston's conduct or performance at the camp.
Poston refused to speak to the newspaper this week, and his attorney did not return messages Friday.
In an interview with police on July 17, 2001, Poston, then 25, spoke highly of Arpaio. Poston said he attended college with Arpaio and worked with him at the camp, where Poston ran the day-to-day operations.
"During my tenure at the camp, and also as a cadet, I had a strong relationship with Mike Arpaio," Poston told police. "Our friendship has lasted for seven years, and still to this day consider him a valuable friend."
Saw nothing improper
Poston told police he had never seen Arpaio do anything improper with a child. To the contrary, he said, Arpaio was so good with kids that he was considered "a cure" for homesick campers, according to police documents.
Poston told police Arpaio had taken the 10-year-old under his wing for that very reason, but the boy began to exhibit anxiety and peculiar behavior, becoming belligerent and jealous when he saw Arpaio talking to another camper.
Poston went on to say that he found Arpaio's presence at camp odd at times given his assignment with the Marines, but Poston said he didn't believe in his heart that his friend could be capable of committing lewd acts.
"It is my humble opinion, speaking from years of experience at the camp and as a school teacher, that Mike was acting with good intentions, caring for a child who from the beginning was starved for attention, something it seems to me to have been lacking," he told police. "Mike loves kids, helps them and would do anything to make people happy."
Police closed the investigation without an arrest, but the Marines later conducted their own probe and court-martialed Arpaio in 2003 for sexually abusing multiple boys who attended The Citadel camp.
Arpaio was sentenced to 15 months in the Navy brig, and The Citadel later paid out $3.8 million to settle lawsuits brought by five campers who were reportedly molested by Arpaio, including the 10-year-old whose family called police in 2001.
Also at the camp that summer was counselor Louis "Skip" ReVille, who would later be implicated in an alleged masturbation session with young boys on campus. ReVille went on to become a coach and teacher, and he now stands accused of molesting 22 boys across the region over the past decade.
It is unclear how long Poston remained at the camp after the Arpaio episode, but Cooke said Friday that the college never received any complaints about Poston's conduct or performance at the summer program.
Showing R-rated clip
Poston drew attention more recently for the controversy he sparked Feb. 14 by showing Wando students a snippet of the R-rated "Jackass Number Two," which featured a character with a puppet on his penis provoking a snake. The sociology teacher was substitute teaching in a Latin class at the time.
He also admitted showing a class a PowerPoint presentation that included "People of Walmart," an online collection of photos poking fun at shoppers in the discount store. Charleston County School District officials placed Poston on administrative leave the day after he showed the clips, when a parent complained, and they fired him Feb. 29.
Poston, a married father of four girls, appealed the decision and continued to receive his full pay and benefits. On Thursday he submitted a letter of resignation, and his lawyer said Poston hopes to find work as a teacher in Berkeley County.
A Berkeley County school spokeswoman could not be reached for comment Friday to determine if Poston had applied for or been offered a job with the school district.
Late Thursday or early Friday, Poston left a message with The Post and Courier stating he had nothing more to say about the episode. "I told my lawyer I do not want to comment any further on this," he said. "My family has been hounded by the press, and I just want it to be done."
A woman who answered the door at his Mount Pleasant apartment Friday said Poston was not home and was not willing to speak to reporters.
She referred all questions to his attorney, Jay Masty, who did not return a phone call or an email Friday seeking additional information on Poston, his work at the summer camp and his dealings with police on the Arpaio case.
Allyson Bird contributed to this report. Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or on Twitter at @glennsmith5.