SLED takes pass on investigating alleged strip search of ex-Citadel cadet
The State Law Enforcement Division has decided against investigating the alleged strip search of a former female cadet at The Citadel because it doesn’t appear a crime was committed, authorities said Thursday.
The military college had requested that SLED look into a complaint filed earlier this month by 19-year-old Jordyn Jackson, who withdrew from the school after filing a report with campus police about the March 8 incident.
SLED reviewed the matter and declined to investigate, SLED spokesman Thom Berry said.
“The information provided to SLED by the Citadel did not indicate that a crime had been committed,” he said. “We did inform the school’s leadership that if additional facts are uncovered that are violations of the state’s criminal statutes, we certainly would reconsider their request.”
Jeff Perez, the college’s vice president of external affairs, said the school treats all allegations of cadet mistreatment seriously and campus police will continue to investigate the matter. Their findings will be reported to the college’s administration, he said.
“If the investigation reveals evidence that a crime was committed, The Citadel will contact SLED again, and provide that information,” Perez said.
Reached by phone Thursday, Jackson said she was not surprised by the decision, She referred further questions to her attorney, Don McCune of Charleston, who did not return a message left at his office.
Jackson, who was a freshman “knob,” told campus police she was strip-searched in her dorm room at the direction of Col. Thomas Harris, an officer in the commandant’s office. The search was prompted by a smell of some sort, but Harris never specified what the smell was, she said.
Jackson told police that Harris and male cadets were in the room for some portions of the search, but left when she stripped to her underwear and was naked, the report stated. A female cadet was called in to observe that portion of the search. Jackson was not touched during the incident, the report stated.
Jackson told The Post and Courier the incident followed an ongoing pattern of racial harassment she was subjected to at the school. Among other things, upperclassmen addressed her with racial epithets and notes stating “KKK” and worse were hung on her door, she said.
Citadel officials have said federal student privacy laws prevent them from discussing any aspect of Jackson’s allegations or her departure from the school.
Paul R. Tamburrino, a Citadel graduate and a Miami=based consultant, said he served as Jackson’s unofficial mentor and many alumni find her allegations suspect. He said Jackson had repeated disciplinary problems at the school, including allegations of fraternizing with upperclassmen and using a credit card without permission, he said.
The Citadel previously released a police report filed by a former roommate of Jackson who said she accused Jackson of credit card fraud, resulting in an honor violation.
Jackson has said the credit card charge involved money she and her roommate spent on getting tattoos. Jackson said she paid her back and was not convicted of an honor violation.
Tamburrino said alumni are upset that Jackson has cast aspersions on the conduct of Harris, who is considered an outstanding officer with a sterling reputation.
Jackson declined to respond to Tamburrino’s statements.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.