The Citadel has filed a motion in federal court to dismiss a complaint alleging it knew one of its summer camp counselors was abusing children and did nothing about it.
A former camper, who is now 25, filed a lawsuit in December accusing the college and several of its employees of being aware that Marine Capt. Michael Arpaio was abusing children at the camp in the mid-1990s but doing nothing to stop it. The camper alleged he was abused 21 times between 1995 and 2001.
The lawsuit named The Citadel and Arpaio, as well as John G. Lackey III, Maj. William Bates III, Jennifer Garrott and Robert J. Lyons. Lackey, Bates, Garrott and Lyons were employed by The Citadel and worked at the camp.
In papers filed in court this week, The Citadel said that statutes of limitations on allegations against the school expired, in some instances, more than a decade ago. The school also said the state's Tort Claims Act protects The Citadel from some of the claims and that the school can't be held liable for acts of violence committed by an employee.
Citadel attorney Dawes Cooke said the military college should not be among those being sued because it is a representative of the state. He also said the allegations accuse the school of neglect, not sexual abuse, which has a longer statute of limitations.
The individuals named in the lawsuit either have not yet been served with a complaint or they still have to answer a complaint, he said.
This week's motion is another procedural step in a case that has been moving forward for more than 18 months.
Georgetown attorney Scott Evans, from the Bell Legal Group, which is representing the camper, said, "We find it curious the school would seek to dismiss itself." The statute of limitations for sexual abuse extends up to the victim's 27th birthday. That includes "any action for damages stemming from sexual abuse," Evans said.
The firm's next step is to "respond to the motion and see who the court rules with," he said.
Ed Bell, founding partner in the Bell Legal Group, also is representing another former camper who claims he was abused by Arpaio. And he represented five Arpaio victims who settled with the school in 2006.
The Citadel paid out $3.8 million to settle those claims resulting from Arpaio's sexual abuse of boys at the camp.
In 2003, Arpaio, then 29, pleaded guilty in military court to charges ranging from indecent assault to providing alcohol to minors. He was sentenced during a court-martial to 10 years of confinement, suspended to 15 months at the Navy brig in Hanahan, authorities said.
Cooke has said this case is the last case involving Arpaio of which he is aware.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.
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