Former female cadet at Citadel files assault complaint over alleged strip-search
A female cadet has withdrawn from The Citadel and filed an assault complaint with campus police in connection with a Friday incident in which she was reportedly strip-searched in her room at the direction of a ranking male commander.
Jordyn Renee Jackson, a 19-year-old freshman at the military college, filed the complaint on Monday, accompanied by her attorney, Donald McCune, and the mother of a classmate.
McCune confirmed Tuesday that his client had withdrawn from the school, but he declined further comment until he had a chance to speak with her.
Jeffrey Perez, The Citadel’s vice president of external affairs, said in a written statement that campus police have begun an investigation into the allegations lodged by Jackson, whom he described as a former cadet.
He cautioned that no one has been arrested or charged with a crime. He said school officials cannot discuss the incident in greater depth while the investigation is ongoing.
“At The Citadel, we treat with the utmost seriousness all claims of improper treatment of cadets,” Perez stated.
Jackson told police the incident occurred between 5 and 6 p.m. after she returned to her room from parade formation and prepared to hang Citadel blankets, a tradition for Corps Day.
A male human-affairs cadet entered her room and asked her to wait for Col. Thomas Harris, an incident report stated.
Human-affairs cadets look out for the welfare of other cadets and harassment issues, and Harris works as a battalion tactical officer in the commandant’s office.
Jackson told police that Harris, 64, asked her and her two roommates what they were doing and then inquired about a smell. He then searched her wardrobe but found nothing, the report stated.
The report does not specify what smell concerned Harris, and school spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells said federal law prevents school officials from elaborating because it involves a disciplinary matter.
After a male cadet inquired about what might be on her person, Harris reportedly instructed Jackson to remove her jacket, police said. As she had nothing on underneath, Harris and two male cadets stepped outside the room while Jackson removed the jacket and handed it to her roommate to pass to them, the report stated. Jackson told police Harris then returned to the room and ordered her to remove her pants. She did so while he and a male cadet stood by, which left her in a T-shirt, compression pants and underwear, the report stated. Jackson told police a 21-year-old female cadet then entered the room and had her remove her compression pants and pull down her underwear while Harris and the male cadets waited outside. No one touched her during the incident, the report stated.
After Jackson had pulled her pants back on, Harris returned to say “they were just checking and that everything was clear,” the police report stated.
Jackson told police she then called a female captain and the mother of a classmate to pick her up from campus and transport her to an off-campus home, the report stated.