Hundreds of documents released Monday show The Citadel was more concerned about protecting itself than stopping a possible predator accused of lewd activities with a child.
Instead of calling police in 2007, the school considered floating a $20,000 settlement offer to the teen who accused Louis "Skip" ReVille, a cadet and counselor, of watching porn and masturbating with boys. The school's attorney found the teen believable, documents show.
The Citadel turned over these documents to the media Monday in response to a Freedom of Information request from The Post and Courier.
The Citadel's in-house attorney, Mark Brandenberg, began sizing up the potential for a lawsuit almost immediately after the school received the teen's complaint against ReVille in the spring of 2007. Brandenburg offered his services to investigate the complaint, noting his previous experience reviewing molestation charges against another counselor at the camp.
Brandenburg detailed his efforts in a series of emails to the state Insurance Reserve Fund, which footed the bill for his investigation and would likely pay out any settlement or judgment in the case.
Right off the bat, Brandenburg began calculating the statute of limitations on the allegations that stemmed from a 2002 incident, even though the family of the teen lodging the complaint had not retained a lawyer or professed a desire to file a lawsuit, according to an email Brandenburg sent on May 16, 2007. In fact, the teen's father indicated he came forward to alert The Citadel to an "apparent predator" in its midst, the email shows.
Brandenburg traveled to Dallas to meet with the teen and his family on July 1, 2007, a visit documented in a 157-page transcript. The teen detailed how ReVille lured male campers into his room with the promise of Chinese food or pizza and then enticed them into watching porn on his computer while they masturbated.
The teen told Brandenburg he joined ReVille for one session and "immediately afterward I felt completely violated." The teen said he "crossed over to the dark side" after the episode, his grades fell, and his life began a downward spiral that landed him in counseling, according to the transcript.
"You haven't reported any of this to any kind of ... law enforcement officials?" Brandenburg asked the teen.
"Do you plan to do that?" the lawyer asked.
"Well, I mean, I've talked to you," the teen replied.
Brandenburg explained that he wasn't a law-enforcement officer with a badge. "My job is to look out after the day-to-day legal well-being, so to speak, of ... the school."
The teen told Brandenburg he only wanted one thing to come from his complaint against ReVille. 'Most of all, the thing I want most is just to make sure he doesn't have a chance to do this to anyone else.'
In an Aug. 8, 2007, email to his Insurance Reserve Fund contact, Brandenburg noted that the teen's story had remained consistent, he was able to identify ReVille without hesitation from photos and knew which room in the barracks ReVille resided. "In short ... I found him to be believable," Brandenburg stated.
Brandenburg noted that ReVille denied all of the allegations, much as former counselor Michael Arpaio had done before he was convicted of molesting boys at the camp between 1995 and 2001. "Arpaio's initial denials were equally forceful, and unfortunately, ultimately proved false," he wrote to reserve fund representative David Stuckey.
Brandenburg wrote Stuckey again on Nov. 16, 2007, to say he was ready to shelve the case with no further action. "Fortunately, since we now have a transcript of my interview with (redacted), we now have an unequivocal trigger of the statute of limitations."
Brandenburg told Stuckey he had not heard from the family after some intense negotiations about the teen enrolling in The Citadel. He assumed the teen had decided against enrolling but didn't call him to confirm that suspicion.
"Thank you for all your cooperation in this incident," Brandenbrug told Stuckey. "I am sorry we were not able to close it with a release, but I feel confident we are well-armed if (redacted) should ever decide to pursue a case against The Citadel."
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.