ReVille: Citadel refused confession

Skip ReVille would molest dozens of victims in the years after he said The Citadel turned him away when he wanted to confess.

After praying for three hours in a campus chapel at The Citadel in the summer of 2001, child molester Louis “Skip” ReVille came to a decision: He needed to come clean about his sexual encounters with young boys.

ReVille, a graduate of the military college, knew he was wrong to lure boys to his room for masturbation sessions while serving as a counselor at the school’s summer camp. So after intensive prayer, he marched over to the campus police department.

ReVille asked an officer how he could report a case of sexual misconduct at the summer camp. “They replied with ‘Not us. We don’t handle those,’” he later recalled.

Public safety officers sent ReVille on his way without referring him to another department. “I was trying to turn myself in,” he said.

He went on to molest dozens of additional victims over the past decade.

The incident is recounted in a thick sheaf of investigative documents released after ReVille, 32, pleaded guilty last month to molesting 23 boys in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties.

The documents provide additional details and insights into ReVille’s crimes. And though The Citadel and others have denied any prior knowledge of ReVille’s misdeeds, the documents contain accounts of potential missed opportunities for stopping his deviant spree along the way.

One such occasion reportedly came after officials at Pinewood Preparatory School, where ReVille worked as a teacher and coach, questioned him in 2003 about touching a boy’s leg in his car while telling the teen about his dating experiences.

When he admitted that this had occurred, ReVille told investigators, Pinewood Headmaster Glyn Cowlishaw commented that “this had sexual predator written all over it.” But Cowlishaw and officials dropped the matter after cautioning ReVille about having students in his car and tutoring them one-on-one with his door closed, according to his statement.

On another occasion, in the spring of 2007, Citadel attorney Mark Brandenburg summoned ReVille to the school to discuss allegations made by a former camper. The boy had told the school that ReVille invited boys to his room during camp sessions in 2002 to watch porn and masturbate together.

In a written statement, ReVille said he lied to Brandenburg and Col. Joseph Trez because he was scared and told them the allegations were untrue. That fall, ReVille said, he had a change of heart and called Brandenburg’s office to come clean about his crimes at the camp.

Brandenburg wasn’t in. ReVille said he asked a secretary to have Brandenburg call him back, but he never heard from Brandenburg again.

The school did not notify police about the allegations against ReVille, and ReVille told investigators that he wished the college had filed a police report about him.

“Because I knew I needed help and that I probably would not stop on my own,” he told Mount Pleasant police.

Several lawsuits have been filed against The Citadel and Pinewood over their handling of the ReVille case, with victims alleging that the schools shirked their duty to report his crimes and allowed him to continue molesting.

Both schools have insisted that is not the case, and that they had no inkling of illegal behavior on ReVille’s part.

David Hoyle, an attorney for two former Pinewood students suing the school over ReVille’s abuse, said ReVille’s statements indicate a disturbing failure to act on the part of those who were supposed to be watching over him.

“If these statements Skip made are true, then Citadel police and headmaster Cowlishaw, who are all mandatory reporters, put dozens of this community’s boys in harm’s way,” he said.

Pinewood attorneys said school officials would have notified police if they had any suspicion that ReVille was harming students. Cowlishaw has stressed that he received no complaints of sexual improprieties by ReVille, and doesn’t recall ever using the term “sexual predator” in his presence.

Guidance counselor Brendan Diffley, who also attended Cowlishaw’s meetings with ReVille, supported Cowlishaw’s account, attorney Alice Paylor said.

As for The Citadel, officials there called ReVille a “master manipulator” and had this to say about his revelations:

“He admitted in his statements to law enforcement officials that he knew very well how to turn himself in for abusing children. Instead, he lied and evaded detection by any means possible until he was finally caught,” The Citadel said in a written statement.

“His statements confirm that Mr. ReVille did not admit or suggest in any of his interactions with Citadel officials or staff that he engaged in misconduct with campers.”

Over the course of a decade, ReVille cycled through more than a dozen coaching, teaching and church posts throughout the region, picking up new victims along the way whom he exposed to porn, masturbation, fondling and oral sex.

In all he racked up at least 43 victims, though some declined to come forward and press charges. They ranged in age from 10 to 17.

ReVille’s schemes unraveled last fall, when word of his behavior got back to parents in Mount Pleasant, then to police.

After his arrest in Mount Pleasant in October, ReVille sat down with investigators on several occasions to detail his crimes. He gave long statements chronicling his offenses and signed a statement early on indicating that he had no interest in mounting a defense.

He said he had “sinned repeatedly with my eyes wide open, and I have prayed daily that this day would come.”

“I am disgusted and ashamed of what I have done,” ReVille wrote in a 20-page statement to Mount Pleasant police on Oct. 28. “I am damaged and I need serious help. I hope and pray that my honesty can bring these families and mine healing.”

Police noted that he had mentioned “suicidal pain” in an email to parents, and they asked ReVille if he was considering killing himself. “No,” he replied. “I’m not that selfish.”

He initially held back on telling police that he had been a foster father to four children. He later confided to investigators that he didn’t give a full account of his actions, in part, “because I knew that if I disclosed everything that I would never have been able to raise my children with my wife,” according to police records.

ReVille’s wife, Carrie, had given birth to triplets just days before his arrest.

ReVille eventually provided very detailed accounts of his encounters, even tabulating how many sex acts he had performed on each child. He also wrote a detailed letter explaining his sexual awakening and the childhood events that contributed to his “skewed view of sexuality.”

Those events included a nude sketching session with a third-grade art teacher and sexual experimentation with male friends.

His desire for boys continued into adult life, and he took advantage of them in his car, at various homes he lived in around the area, at The Citadel, at a church and at an out-of-town basketball tournament. Anywhere he had opportunity.

He recounted sex acts with more than eight boys from Pinewood who visited his cottage in Summerville. And he recalled more than a dozen Citadel campers who attended his porn and masturbation sessions.

As charges against him mounted, ReVille asked police how he was being portrayed to his victims. “Am I being portrayed as a monster?” he asked.

When investigators told him he wasn’t being portrayed in any way, ReVille started to cry, police documents stated.

Investigators repeatedly asked him what officials at these schools knew about his behavior.

ReVille told them that Citadel camp directors Bill Bates and Jenni Garrott warned him in 2002 about spending time with campers inside his room with the door closed. Garrott warned him again the following year after catching him alone with a camper on a couch in his room.

Col. John Lackey, an assistant commandant at the school, warned ReVille that same year not to put himself in such “bad” situations in the future, according to ReVille’s statements to SLED.

ReVille said he didn’t think Bates or Lackey suspected anything about his crimes, but he thought Garrott “may have known something inappropriate might be possible.”

The teen who came forward in 2007 and spoke with Brandenburg about ReVille’s misdeeds told SLED agents he was stunned to learn that the school had not acted on the information he provided. He said he told Brandenburg that the only thing he wanted was to stop ReVille from taking advantage of other boys.

“I believe I was 19 years old when I originally came forward and my family convinced me that I had done something right and courageous,” he wrote to SLED. “It wasn’t until this last year that I discovered The Citadel had literally done nothing. ... I feel more betrayed than I ever have in my life.”

As for Pinewood, ReVille told investigators that Cowlishaw and Diffley confronted him a second time after their initial warning in 2003. Two years later, they cautioned him again about inappropriate behavior after learning that he had been inviting boys to his house to do yard work or be tutored, he said.

“It was clear to me this was a final warning and that I had the spring semester to make corrections,” ReVille said in a written statement.

Pinewood attorneys said school officials had no recollection of any complaints about ReVille inviting students for yard work sessions or other gatherings at his house. “If we had known something we would have done something about it,” Paylor said.

Amy Hudock, who served as chairwoman of Pinewood’s English Department in 2005 and 2006, told police in November that she received complaints from parents about ReVille’s suspicious behavior right after she started her job.

She was told that ReVille frequently had students stay over at his home and that he kept his classroom blinds closed during class. She told police that she cautioned ReVille about such behavior, but he ignored her warnings, according to police reports.

Hudock told investigators she later learned that ReVille did not grade students on their work, but handed out grades based “on what he felt they deserved.” She considered this sufficient grounds for firing, a police report stated.

In January 2006, Cowlishaw informed ReVille that the English department was “heading in a different direction” and that his contract would not be renewed, according to documents. ReVille said they sent him to counseling, ostensibly to find a career path and work toward life goals.

“When I attended the counseling, however, the subject matter concerned my relationship with my father and my parents’ divorce,” he told state agents.

Neither Cowlishaw nor Hudock could be reached for comment last week. Paylor, the school’s attorney, said Hudock made no mention of parent complaints about ReVille during her April interview with SLED agents. In fact, Hudock told SLED she caught heat from parents after he was let go because he was so popular, Paylor said.

At ReVille’s sentencing hearing, at which he received a 50-year prison term, 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson blasted people and institutions that failed to report suspicions about ReVille along the way, allowing him to continue molesting. She declined to say more last week about the incidents recounted in the investigative documents.

ReVille acknowledged in his statements that he knew he could have approached Charleston police and reported himself after Citadel campus police turned him away in 2001. In fact, he had several opportunities to come clean. In the end, he offered only apologies.

“I am so sorry for living a lie to so many people who have loved me and trusted me,” he wrote in a statement to police. “... I am sorry to all who thought I was a good man.”