The Citadel has shelved plans to hire an independent counsel to review its handling of a complaint about molester Louis “Skip” ReVille, saying the school is dealing with the matter in-house now that it has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing.
The college revealed the decision late Friday in response to questions from The Post and Courier. The move reverses, at least temporarily, a pledge the military college made in November to seek a transparent, third-party review of its actions and policies in connection with ReVille.
Plans to have the state Attorney General’s Office assist with the probe ended in April when State Law Enforcement Division investigators concluded there was no criminal wrongdoing on the college’s part, The Citadel said. The school now has no plans in the works to go forward with an outside review, its attorney, Dawes Cooke, confirmed.
“Throughout SLED’s investigation and after its conclusion, The Citadel has been reviewing its policies and procedures in order to improve our ability to make The Citadel a safe place to live, learn and work,” the college said in its statement. “This effort will remain an ongoing process.”
The Citadel’s approach stands in stark contrast to that of Penn State, which released a scathing, 267-page report Thursday resulting from former FBI director Louis Freeh’s eight-month probe into a similar molestation scandal at that school.
At issue in The Citadel case is the decision-making process that occurred in 2007 after a teen accused ReVille of watching porn and masturbating with young boys at The Citadel’s summer camp five years earlier. The school quietly closed the matter without notifying police following an internal investigation that yielded no action.
ReVille, a Citadel alumnus and former camp counselor, went on to molest a number of children. He is now serving a 50-year prison term after he pleaded guilty last month to molesting 23 boys in the greater Charleston area.
The Citadel endured withering criticism after acknowledging that it mishandled the 2007 complaint, and the college pledged to get an independent review to prevent similar problems in the future.
The college made that pledge the same month former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on molestation charges. Penn State trustees promised an outside review as well and brought in Freeh.
Over the next eight months, Freeh’s team interviewed more than 430 current or former Penn State employees and determined Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and other senior officials “concealed critical facts” about Sandusky’s abuse because they were worried about bad publicity.
Libby Ralston, director emeritus of the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center, said Penn State’s report provides “a wonderful opportunity” for society to begin shifting toward a culture where protecting children from abuse is the responsibility of all adults. What’s more, Penn State officials seem to be standing behind the report and accepting responsibility for what happened, she said.
“That is probably the greatest gift anybody could give to the issue of child protection,” she said. “I don’t know where The Citadel is with their report, but they have had multiple opportunities do the same thing and they have not, in my view, shifted away from the position of protection of their own organization.”
The military college initially indicated it would hire Guidepost Solutions, an international investigations agency, to review its handling of the case and recommend procedural changes. The firm is perhaps best known for its work on behalf of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, who was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York City.
The Citadel soon changed course, however, and asked state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office in November to spearhead the probe.
Mark Plowden, a spokesman for Wilson, said the Attorney General’s Office told the military college early on that state prosecutors aren’t in the business of reviewing and recommending policy changes for universities.
Wilson’s office offered to suggest possible candidates to take on the job once SLED had completed its criminal investigation of the ReVille case, Plowden said. But the attorney general never heard back from the school, he said.
“We would be happy to suggest one or more people for them to hire,” Plowden said. “But to date, we have not heard from them.”
The Citadel, which is being sued by former campers over its handling of ReVille, said the attorney general’s involvement in the case ended with SLED’s determination that insufficient evidence existed to warrant criminal prosecution against the school and its officials. SLED notified the school of the finding in an April 4 letter.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson had already announced a month earlier that no charges would be filed against the school because The Citadel had no legal obligation to share the camper’s complaint with law enforcement. But she also added: “We certainly hope that even when people don’t have a strict legal duty to report they would recognize a moral duty to report.”
ReVille told investigators he regularly invited campers to his room at The Citadel to watch porn and masturbate, but he denied the allegations when confronted in 2007. He claimed he later called a school attorney to change his story and admit the claims were true, but the attorney never called him back.
ReVille also claimed that he tried to turn himself in to campus police in 2001 but was turned away when he asked to file a report of sexual misconduct at the camp, according to statements he gave investigators.
ReVille, by his own admission, went on to molest dozens of boys over the next decade while working as a coach, teacher and youth group leader at various schools, a gym and a church. His deviant spree came to an end in October when a Mount Pleasant police investigation led to his arrest.
Mullins McLeod, an attorney who represents former campers suing The Citadel and school President John W. Rosa over their handling of ReVille, said the school needs to take the same steps Penn State did to find out what went wrong so it can be avoided in the future.
“In the battle to prevent child sexual abuse, it is critical for an independent third party to do exactly what was done at Penn State,” he said.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.