Louis "Skip" ReVille prayed with, and preyed upon, vulnerable kids he coached and groomed over a decade in the Lowcountry.
He taught school, led sports teams, guided Bible studies and took kids into his home as a foster parent. In nearly every area of his life, ReVille positioned himself to be close to children, to share their time and win their trust.
Authorities say he used that access to carry out dark fantasies with adolescent boys. Just how many remains unclear. Mount Pleasant police have charged the 32-year-old educator with molesting five teens, but investigators have indicated that more counts are on the way, led by ReVille's own confessions.
ReVille's reach extended over years and across county lines, from the rigid confines of The Citadel to the suburban corners of Summerville to the finest neighborhoods of Mount Pleasant and Daniel Island. He literally had hundreds of kids at his fingertips.
But just how did he keep his sexual advances secret in a region well-versed in the threat of molestation? The area has seen a string of coaches, teachers, ministers and priests charged with similar crimes, including infamous predator Eddie Fischer, who molested more than 40 students during his teaching career. Charleston also is home to Darkness to Light, a national group that has trained some 300,000 people in ways to prevent child sexual abuse.
Despite these efforts and high-profile arrests, new molestation cases come along all the time. In part, that's because predators are crafty, manipulative and adept at covering their tracks, taking advantage of people's trust and institutions' disdain for being tainted by the stain of pedophilia, experts say.
"Child sexual predators get away with it for a combination of reasons," said William Burke, a Summerville clinical counselor who works primarily with men accused of child sexual abuse. "First, they are pretty good at what they do. Then there is what we call 'passing the trash,' where a school or church gets rid of someone by sweeping things under the rug and he goes on to another place."
Some early warning signs seem to have emerged in ReVille's past, including a 2007 complaint from a summer camper at The Citadel about inappropriate behavior on ReVille's part. A former official at Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville, where ReVille taught and coached for four years, said faculty and parents there talked about his odd predilection for spending copious time with boys ages 12 to 14. It appears that none of this information was passed on to future employers.
But folks in Mount Pleasant, where ReVille made himself a ubiquitous presence in youth sports, said they didn't see this scandal coming at all. The revelations about ReVille have shaken fellow coaches and left parents wondering just who they can trust with their kids.
"Everybody is very shocked and disappointed," said Skip Stasky, president of the Wando All Sports Booster Club. "We are always looking for good people, good coaches, good role models for the kids, and Skip seemed to be all of these things."
A passion for youth
ReVille (pronounced RUH-vell) is a California native who graduated from Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham, Ala., before arriving in the Lowcountry to attend The Citadel in the late 1990s.
By most accounts, ReVille distinguished himself at the military college, where he was an English major and a member of Delta Company. He led Bible studies, worked as a summer camp counselor and mentor, and chaired the school's Honor Committee in 2002, his senior year. That same year, he received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in recognition of "high thought and noble endeavor."
ReVille, who aspired to attend seminary school and become a middle school teacher, got his first break at Pinewood, where he worked as an English teacher and basketball coach from 2002 to 2006. He was well-liked among many parents, and some withdrew their children when his contract wasn't renewed, said a former Pinewood official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The official reason ReVille didn't get renewed was that his handling of administrative paperwork wasn't up to snuff, the official said. But there was another, unofficial, reason, concerning "where he chose to spend his time and with whom," the official said.
"He put himself around 12- to 14-year-old boys all the time," the official said. "There was talk ... 'isn't it weird that he does that.' "
Pinewood's head of school and its board president did not return calls for comment last week.
The year after he left the school, one of ReVille's former campers accused him of inappropriate behavior at The Citadel camp five years earlier. The school has said the incident didn't involve physical contact, but officials have refused to release details. In any event, no action was taken at the time.
ReVille continued to be drawn to young boys as he cycled through a variety of coaching and educational roles at private schools, churches and recreational programs. Most of ReVille's employers did background checks, which came back clean. And he left various positions with favorable reviews.
He seemed to particularly blossom in Mount Pleasant, a tight-knit, affluent, sports-oriented town with a steady crop of talented, young athletes and over-booked families who, at times, needed help getting kids to and from events. ReVille's reach was such that nearly every kid now between the ages of 12 and 16 who participated in sports in Mount Pleasant crossed paths with ReVille at some time.
Ken Ayoub, director of the town's Recreation Department, said parent surveys after tennis and basketball seasons consistently gave ReVille high marks.
"Even the best coaches sometimes get a bad review from one parent," Ayoub said. "(ReVille) got better reviews than most of our coaches."
ReVille always seemed to be available to mentor kids, give them rides and otherwise be generous with his time, parents recalled. At times, he was there when parents couldn't be.
A youth leader at Eastbridge Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant, ReVille often held Bible studies for boys at Dunkin' Donuts on Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. And at Coastal Christian Preparatory School, where ReVille was just fired as an upper school assistant principal, he took boys off-campus on "ice cream runs."
"It seemed fun and OK," said the mother of a boy who went along with ReVille and two friends. "Now, I have nightmares that I let that happen without saying a thing."
The mother, like most other parents interviewed, would speak only on the condition that her name not be published. These parents fear that their kids will become the subject of gossip or teasing. Only in retrospect, they said, have they begun to question some of the actions and methods employed by the seemingly affable, enthusiastic coach.
At Velocity Sports Performance, for instance, ReVille hosted "lock-in" sleepovers for groups of boys at the elite training facility. Parents would drop off their kids with ReVille for all-night sessions that mixed basketball, Bible study and other activities.
"Skip continuously texted my son," said a man whose son played basketball for a team ReVille coached. "He nagged him about coming to his Bible study."
ReVille sometimes also insisted on having "closed" basketball practices at Moultrie Middle School, parents said. He eagerly offered overnight baby-sitting duty to parents of his tennis and basketball players. He was head coach of a travel team, taking out-of-town trips to tournaments some parents were unable to attend.
"Thank God, nothing happened to my son," said the stepfather of a Daniel Island teen who played tennis for ReVille at Bishop England High School. "But Skip got very close -- unusually close -- to the boys and, looking back, we gave him plenty of opportunities for ... well, whatever."
ReVille also regularly provided car rides to and from practices and games, parents said.
Arrest affidavits indicate the sexual assaults ReVille is accused of occurred in his car on "the roadways of Mount Pleasant" or at his home on Lohr Drive, just down the street from Jennie Moore Elementary School. He is accused of fondling, masturbating and performing oral sex on various boys -- some on 10 or more occasions, according to arrest affidavits.
ReVille admitted to the allegations when confronted by police on Oct. 28, affidavits stated. He was arrested the same day, shortly after attending special training to help teachers and administrators prevent child sexual abuse.
Investigators are now digging deep to find more potential victims in Mount Pleasant and other towns.
The news stunned many in the area who worked closely with ReVille. Just days before his arrest, ReVille and his wife welcomed cheerful visitors into their home to celebrate the Oct. 18 birth of their triplets. Friends arrived with well-wishes and home-cooked meals, dubbing the new arrivals the "Skiplets." ReVille's wife Carrie, a midwife by trade, was busy but beaming.
"If she knew any of this horrible stuff was going on," said a close friend of the ReVille's, "she put on one heck of an act."
ReVille is locked up in the Charleston County jail, his bail set at more than $1 million. His lawyer has indicated that ReVille is deeply sorry for the pain he has caused and that he fully intends to continue cooperating with detectives working his molestation cases.
"He is very, very remorseful," his attorney, Craig Jones, said.
Meanwhile, the town where ReVille lived and worked is left to pick up the pieces. Parents are having awkward talks with their kids, trying to figure out who has been victimized. Coastal Christian brought in experts last week to give parents tips on how to go about that process. And other organizations are talking about getting sexual abuse prevention training from groups such as Darkness to Light.
Some coaches feel under suspicion. Athletes wonder who among their friends fell prey. Phone lines are hot with fresh rumors and concern.
Stasky, of the Wando booster club and a volunteer coach himself, worries that it will be even harder to find good, qualified coaches to work with kids. He recalled how a young soccer coach made a big difference in his youth, giving him another role model to look up to. He hates to think of today's kids not getting that chance amid a climate of suspicion and volunteers second-guessing their decision to get involved.
"It's very frustrating to see, and I'm not sure how it will affect things in the future," he said.
Wando teacher and volleyball coach Alexis Glover said the episode will likely change the way coaches go about their jobs. She said she probably won't meet with a student unless another adult is present "to cover ourselves," nor give kids rides home unaccompanied, even though her own three children got rides from coaches when they played sports around town.
"You hate to see this," Glover said. "We still have a tight-knit community here in Mount Pleasant. It's not Mayberry. But you don't expect things like this to happen here."
Gregg Meyers, a lawyer who represented victims in the Eddie Fischer scandal, said that if anything positive is to be found in this case, it's that victims have spoken up when they are still young rather than holding their pain inside for years and letting it ruin their lives. Unlike years ago, organizations are in place to help them get treatment and overcome the damage of sexual abuse, he said.
"They are talking now, and someone has reacted in a positive way to what they are saying," he said. "It's progress of sorts. It's just not enough progress."
Doug Pardue contributed to this report. Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5. Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593.