The Citadel has reached a settlement with two men who claimed it should have done more to prevent abuse at its defunct summer camp.
The two former campers sued the military college, alleging it failed to protect them from abuse at the hands of former Marine Capt. Michael Arpaio, a Citadel graduate who volunteered at the camp, between 1998 and 2000.
The suits, filed in both state and federal court, were settled just a week before heading to trial.
The Citadel agreed to pay $525,000 to each of the two former campers, according to the college's attorney, Dawes Cooke.
"We appreciate the family having worked with The Citadel," Cooke said. "It was in everyone's best interest to resolve this case and put it behind us."
Scott Evans, the attorney representing the former campers, said they were concerned that even if a jury ruled in favor of the former campers, there was the possibility of years of appeal.
"This is something these individuals have been battling over 10 years so this is a step toward closure," Evans said.
Cooke said the school settled because these were the remaining suits pending against the college involving Arpaio, who molested the former campers.
In 2006, The Citadel settled five suits and agreed to pay $3.8 million involving claims from five other former campers that alleged abuse by Arpaio 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 said by settling the case, the college is not admitting any wrongdoing.
"There's no admission of responsibility," Cooke said. "It's a compromise resolution."
Cooke said the incidents were clearly criminal acts by Arpaio, who he said was trusted by many.
"Had we not settled the case, we would have had a very vigorous debate of whether The Citadel should have been aware of Arpaio's misconduct," he said. "The reason we settled is so we don't have to argue that point."
The former campers had argued in their complaint against the school that college leaders should have seen warning signs.
"Arpaio hid his misconduct was very effective of doing that," Cooke said.
The two former campers, who were 24 and 25 at the time the complaints were filed, were not identified in the suits.
One of them alleged Arpaio sexually abused him as a child 21 separate times, according to court records. The other camper alleged several incidents of abuse and inappropriate behavior by Arpaio, court records stated.
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.
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