Legal papers allege Citadel covered up early warning signs of molester ReVille’s deviance

Louis 'Skip' ReVille is serving a 50 year prison sentence. (Photo: SC Dept. of Corrections)

A former Citadel camp director said in a deposition that she should have reported and fired serial molester Louis “Skip” ReVille after catching him rubbing ointment on a boy’s leg in his room in 2003 — a move that could have spared the boy and others from alleged abuse, according to court papers filed this week.

The revelation is contained in a motion to amend an ongoing lawsuit filed by an unidentified mother who is suing the military college for negligence over their handling of complaints against ReVille, a Citadel graduate and summer camp counselor who molested at least 23 boys in the region. He is currently serving a 50-year prison term.

The 90-page motion seeks to introduce new information gleaned from depositions and the legal discovery process, as well as add four Citadel officials as defendants in the suit. They are school President Lt. Gen. John Rosa; Jennifer Garrott, a former director at the now-defunct summer camp; school attorney Mark Brandenburg; and Joseph Trez, a former executive assistant to Rosa.

The court papers cite an Aug. 28 deposition in which Garrott reportedly conceded that ReVille should have been written up and terminated after she caught him alone in his dorm room with a camper, rubbing pain relief ointment on the boy’s leg — a violation of Citadel rules. She also agreed his firing would have spared the boy from subsequent sexual molestation by ReVille, the motion states.

Earlier this month, however, Garrott indicated that she wanted to change her answers to deny those admissions, Gregg Meyers, an attorney for the mother, said Thursday.

Dawes Cooke, an attorney for The Citadel, said Garrott, who still works at the college, “obviously feels very badly about what we now know about Skip ReVille through the benefits of hindsight,” but she misspoke when she said the incident would have been grounds for termination. It was not a firing offense, he said.

Kim Keelor, a Citadel spokeswoman, said Garrott and other school officials named in the legal action would have no comment on the allegations, and that Cooke would serve as their spokesman on the litigation.

The motion filed this week alleges that Garrott had caught ReVille in his dorm room with another boy a year earlier, in 2002, but also declined to document that episode.

Garrott is also accused of having the same camper involved in the liniment incident fired from his job as a junior counselor on trumped up charges in 2005 after he asked to speak to her about ReVille, the suit states. The boy felt compelled to report his alleged abuse by ReVille after attending a training session on child sexual assault, but Garrott wouldn’t hear him out, the suit states.

Cooke said the incident never happened and the camper in question was not terminated from his counselor position. “It’s just not true,” he said.

The camper involved in the incident has also filed a lawsuit against the Citadel, alleging that ReVille sexually molested him on several occasions during the summer of 2003. His suit, filed in September, mirrors other complaints filed against the school, alleging that its leadership knew about ReVille’s offenses, did nothing to stop him and tried to cover up the problem.

To date, seven lawsuits have been filed against the school or its officials in connection with the ReVille episode. Cooke said he would not be surprised to see additional cases given the number of victims ReVille has admitted to molesting and the likelihood that others will follow the lead of Meyers’ client, whose son had no affiliation with the school.

The woman, who has been identified only as Mother Doe A, contends that the military college’s inaction allowed ReVille to go forward and sexually assault her son on numerous occasions in 2007 and 2008 after they came in contact through athletic activity in Mount Pleasant.

A key 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 by Brandenburg that yielded no action.

ReVille, 34, went on to molest more boys while working as a coach, teacher and youth group leader in the Charleston region. His deviant spree came to an end in October 2011 when a Mount Pleasant police investigation led to his arrest. Though he pleaded guilty in June 2012 to molesting 23 boys, ReVille placed his actual victim count at 43, according to a sex offender specialist who counseled him.

The motion filed this week alleges that ReVille sexually abused at least 17 campers on The Citadel campus during his time there, and that he did so by violating established policies with the knowledge of Garrott and other school officials. The school has denied any wrongdoing, and Cooke said he has seen no evidence to support claims that 17 campers were abused there.

An independent review of The Citadel’s handling of the 2007 complaint against ReVille concluded that the school’s investigation, while well-intentioned, was insufficient because it was conducted only by Brandenburg.

The motion filed this week in the mother’s lawsuit alleged that Brandenburg, Trez, Rosa and Garrott conspired to cover up the incident in an attempt to shield the school’s image. Trez and Brandenburg allegedly met with ReVille about the allegations and told him to “lay low,” neglecting to report the incident to police, as the college’s policies and procedures dictated, the motion states.

Brandenburg acknowledged in a deposition that the alleged victim in the 2007 complaint identified a cadet who was a possible eyewitness to ReVille’s sexual misconduct, but the attorney made no attempt to contact him beyond sending an email that garnered no response. Brandenburg’s office was just a 5 minute walk to the cadet’s dorm room, the motion filed this week states.

Brandenburg also said in the deposition that he couldn’t recall doing anything to investigate alleged sexual abuse of the eyewitness and five others by ReVille after word of these incidents surfaced in July 2007, the motion states.

The motion goes on to state that Brandenburg copied Rosa on a May 2007 letter to the state Insurance Reserve Fund that noted that others had been abused and that Brandenburg told Rosa of these allegations as well.

Rosa has said he doesn’t recall receiving a copy of that letter. Even if it did cross his desk, Cooke said, there was no reason for him to act at that time because the matter was being handled as a claim through the Insurance Reserve Fund.

“He has no recollection of seeing it, and it wouldn’t have been anything that required his attention because it didn’t call for a decision by him,” he said.

The motion also states that Trez, Rosa’s executive assistant, said in a deposition that he was unaware in 2007 that it was against the law for an adult to show pornography to a child or masturbate in front of children. Still, Trez acknowledged he would have reported the 2007 complaint to police if he had read the camp policy requiring that law enforcement be informed of all sexual misconduct complaints, the motion states.

Citadel Public Safety Chief William Fletcher said in a deposition that he would have reported the allegations to the State Law Enforcement Division had he been made aware of them, according to the motion.

Patricia Kinard, administrative assistant to Rosa, reportedly agreed in a deposition that the alleged abuse should have been immediately reported to police, saying “that would be common sense,” the motion states.

The independent review of the episode found the school’s investigation inadequate, but it also concluded that the college did not conspire to keep the allegations from the public. SLED determined that there was no criminal wrongdoing on The Citadel’s part.

Unfortunately, Cooke said, the complaint “fell right between all of the reporting statutes” that would have required that law enforcement be notified. He said everyone involved in the case wishes that something could have been done differently that would have stopped ReVille from harming children.

“There is not a single person at The Citadel who would have tolerated a child molester for an instant,” he said.

Rosa has said the school should have done better and Citadel officials have maintained that the school is heeding recommendations from the review to better protect students and improve the handling of sexual assault complaints.

But Meyers, one of the lawyers making the motion, and Mullins McCleod, a lawyer representing four of ReVille’s alleged victims, said The Citadel’s continuing denial of wrongdoing in the case is at odds with its pledges to change the culture that brought the school to this point.

“To say we should have done better but insist that ‘No, we didn’t have to do anything’ — there’s just no way to reconcile those two positions,” Meyers said. “As long as that’s what they say when the chips are down, then they haven’t changed at all.”