The mother who sued The Citadel after finding out former summer camp counselor Skip ReVille sexually abused her son says she is still in shock after her suit was dismissed at the last minute but plans to keep fighting to prevent child sex abuse.
“We were all stunned,” the woman known as Mother Doe A said this week. “We thought all the legalities involved had played out and we would get a fair shake in court. To see the jury right there and not even be able to make our opening statement ... was very disheartening. We just wanted the facts to come out in the right forum.”
Her suit was dismissed Jan. 27 as the jury was set to hear opening arguments. She said it took her several days to recover enough to talk about it.
The mother said she found out her son was molested after ReVille was arrested in 2011 and confessed to it.
The suit claims ReVille never would have molested her son if The Citadel had not covered up what ReVille did when he was a camp counselor there, so the school owed her damages for the loss of companionship of her son because of his emotional trauma.
She said she filed suit so her son would not have to go through the trauma of telling his story in the courtroom.
Now that her suit has failed, her son’s suit against The Citadel will move forward, she said. Several other victims have also sued and are awaiting a trial date.
Though the mother and her family no longer live in the Charleston area, she said she intends to fight to change state laws to better protect children from molesters such as ReVille. Among other things, she wants the state to extend the statute of limitations for sexual assault victims to file lawsuits, strengthen the requirements for reporting suspected sexual abuse of children, and give parents the right to sue on behalf of children who have been molested.
The dismissal was surprising because The Citadel’s attorneys tried and failed to get Mother Doe A’s suit dismissed last May. That motion listed six reasons the suit should be dismissed, including the argument that state law does not allow the mother of a victim to file suit because she lost her son’s companionship.
Circuit Judge Markley Dennis rejected that motion in November and ordered the trial to move forward.
The Citadel’s attorneys appealed to the S.C. Supreme Court to clarify the law on whether the mother of a victim could sue. The court declined to hear arguments.
The new motion for dismissal was filed Jan. 26, the same day the jury was picked. This motion was more narrowly focused, presenting new arguments that “South Carolina does not permit recovery for damage to a parent’s relationship with her child.”
Dawes Cooke, The Citadel’s lead attorney, said the second motion probably prevailed because it more directly addressed the question of whether the law allowed the mother to sue.
Gregg Meyers, the mother’s lead attorney, declined to speculate why the first motion to dismiss the suit was denied and the second was granted.
The judge invited the mother’s attorneys to ask the state Supreme Court to clarify the law.
Meyers said an appeal would depend on how much time it might take away from several other cases against The Citadel, including a suit from the son who was abused.
ReVille pleaded guilty to sexually molesting 23 boys in June 2012 and was sentenced to 50 years in prison. He was a senior camp counselor at The Citadel, a teacher and assistant coach at Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville, a tennis coach at Bishop England High School, a coach at the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department, a basketball coach at Moultrie Middle School, a travel league basketball coach, a coach at Velocity Sports Performance in Mount Pleasant, an occasional volunteer basketball coach at Rollings Middle School of the Arts in Summerville, and a youth group leader at Eastbridge Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 and Glenn Smith at 937-5556.