Citadel emails revealing

Emails show that Citadel attorney Mark Brandenburg (left) hoped to avoid a “formal” inquiry into allegations against accused molester Louis “Skip” ReVille.

More emails released by The Citadel on Wednesday show the school hoped to dodge a criminal investigation and lawsuit by conducting its own private inquiry into allegations against molester Louis "Skip" ReVille in 2007.

Some 47 pages of newly discovered emails show The Citadel's in-house attorney, Mark Brandenburg, was keenly aware of the school's exposure to a camper's complaint about ReVille and spent months trying to help the college avoid publicity and financial damages.

In one email to a party whose name was blacked out, Brandenburg noted that the complaining camper had not approached law enforcement or filed a civil suit over sexual abuse allegations against ReVille.

"Moreover, I am hopeful that, by conducting an investigation on behalf of the school, no 'formal' investigation -- criminal or civil -- will occur," Brandenburg stated. "Of course, I cannot guarantee that, as I have no control over what the complainant does."

At the time, the military college was still reeling from another sex abuse scandal at its summer camp that resulted in nearly $4 million in settlements.

With the dust barely settled on that case, Brandenburg found himself fielding allegations from a teen who said ReVille had watched porn and masturbated with young boys while serving as the camp's senior counselor in 2002.

The emails detailing Brandenburg's work on the complaint provide further evidence that The Citadel was more concerned about protecting itself than stopping a possible predator who, by then, was working as a teacher and coach in the community. Now, that predator, ReVille, has confessed to molesting at least nine other boys since his Citadel years, and the college faces accusations that it might have saved those kids from abuse had it just told police what it knew about him in 2007.

The emails, coupled with previously released documents, reveal a purposeful effort to handle the matter out of the public eye. The Citadel has maintained this was done out of respect for the family's desire for privacy.

The documents show Brandenburg made an effort in May 2007 to contact former camp counselors and others who might have information about "an incident that supposedly occurred at the Citadel Summer Camp some time ago." He did not mention ReVille by name or detail the allegations. It is unclear from the documents how many of those people responded to his email inquiries.

In a May 8 email to one former counselor, Brandenburg assured the individual that he or she had not been accused of any wrongdoing and would more likely be considered a witness. The email raises questions about just who Brandenburg was investigating.

"I merely believe you may have information about the particular summer at issue," he wrote. "More directly, you may have information about the person who made the complaint."

Calculating exposure

Around this same time, Brandenburg was already calculating the statute of limitations on the camper's allegations and sizing up the school's potential financial exposure in emails to the state Insurance Reserve Fund. The fund footed the bill for his investigation and would likely pay out any settlement or judgment in the case, as it had in the previous sex-abuse scandal.

In a May 18, 2007, exchange, a fund representative suggested Brandenburg hold off on interviews until they could further research how the statute of limitations would apply in this case.

Brandenburg replied that he already was quite familiar with the law from his work on the recently settled cases stemming from former Marine Capt. Michael Arpaio's molestation of boys at The Citadel's camp. That is one reason why the school "settled for such large amounts in those cases," he said. It also gave him pause in sizing up the ReVille matter.

"I am NOT optimistic that we can escape this case, or others, based purely on the statute," Brandenburg wrote. "I have much more to say on the matter, but would prefer to do so on the phone, rather than in e-mail."

In July of that year, Brandenburg traveled to Texas to interview the former camper and his family. In a later e-mail to his Insurance Reserve Fund contact, he noted that teen's story remained consistent and he found the boy to be believable.

In November 2007, Brandenburg wrote the same contact about his discussions with the boy's family about helping him to get into a community college and, possibly, The Citadel. There was also discussion of a potential $20,000 settlement with the boy. Brandenburg, however, said he hadn't heard from the boy's family since August and hadn't pushed the issue.

"I plan to put this file back in my file cabinet, but do not plan to take any action on it further," he stated.

The matter, in fact, was then shelved without police being notified.

The fallout

ReVille, 32, went on to coach and teach around the Lowcountry for years. He is now accused of molesting nine boys in Mount Pleasant, and authorities have indicated more charges are on the way. Charleston police and the State Law Enforcement Division also are investigating ReVille's actions at The Citadel summer camp, where he worked from 2000 to 2004.

The emails released Wednesday are in addition to hundreds of pages of documents The Citadel handed over Nov. 14 in response to a Freedom of Information request. The new emails were only recently discovered on an external hard drive, according to Jeff Perez, the school's vice president of external affairs.

Citadel officials had no direct comment on the contents of the emails. Spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells said Brandenburg is not available for interviews but the release of his emails and other documents are indicative of the school's "ongoing effort to be transparent."

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or on Twitter at @glennsmith5.