A new lawsuit accuses Citadel attorney Mark Brandenburg of conspiring with others at the military college to conceal a complaint from a former summer camper about child molester Louis “Skip” ReVille.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of the military college’s release Friday of the results of an independent review on its handling of a 2007 complaint against ReVille by a former camper at its defunct summer camp. The report concluded that the school’s investigation into the complaint, while well-intentioned, was insufficient because it was conducted only by Brandenburg, the school’s lawyer. It said Brandenburg was “a single administrative staff member operating in a vacuum of policy and procedure.”
Mullins McLeod, an attorney who also represents four former campers suing The Citadel and its president, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, over their handling of ReVille, filed the lawsuit in federal court Monday. McLeod refused to comment on it.
The suit, brought by one of ReVille’s alleged victims, alleges that Brandenburg, Rosa and other unnamed employees and staffers at The Citadel conspired to conceal the 2007 complaint by a teen who accused former camp counselor ReVille of watching porn and masturbating with young boys at the school’s summer camp five years earlier.
The school closed the matter without notifying police, following an internal investigation that yielded no action.
ReVille, a Citadel graduate, went on to molest a number of boys. He is serving a 50-year prison term after he pleaded guilty in June to molesting 23 boys in the Charleston area.
The State Law Enforcement Division determined that there was no criminal wrongdoing on The Citadel’s part.
The latest lawsuit alleges that Brandenburg, a 1990 graduate of the school, conspired to conceal the complaint to avoid the negative publicity and lawsuits that the sexual abuse of young children by a Citadel employee would bring.
It also alleges that Brandenburg conspired to conceal information about ReVille by:
Attempting to offer money to a former camper in exchange for his silence.
Assuring the former camper that he would report ReVille to law enforcement officials, but only reporting him to the school’s insurance carrier.
Communicating with the school’s insurance carrier about the best ways to keep the allegations against ReVille from the media.
The independent review released by the school stated that Brandenburg treated the 2007 complaint as “a claim to be settled, not as a larger community issue.”
Brandenburg could not be reached at his office at The Citadel or on his cellphone Monday night.
But Dawes Cooke, a lawyer working for The Citadel, said, “It’s regrettable that McLeod has chosen to try cases in the media rather than in court.”
Cooke said he hasn’t yet seen the lawsuit because it’s not yet posted online. But any allegation that there was an attempt to conceal information about ReVille by Brandenburg or anyone else at the college is “completely false.”
He also said the timing of the lawsuit was curious because while the independent review found The Citadel’s investigation inadequate, it found no evidence of a conspiracy or cover-up.
“Brandenburg was exonerated from any intentional wrongdoing,” Cooke said.
He also said that the former camper who made the 2007 complaint was asking for compensation, and that The Citadel, as a state agency, couldn’t pay someone for their silence. All settlements would be a matter of public record, Cooke said.
The filing also claimed that by participating in the conspiracy, Brandenburg “facilitated the sexual abuse suffered by the former camper and played a substantial role in ReVille being allowed to remain undetected.”
The plaintiff is seeking a judgment against Brandenburg for actual, special and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury; reasonable legal fees; an all other relief the court deems proper.