Citadel faces more lawsuits

The Citadel

Robert Behre

As The Citadel reels from revelations about an admitted child molester it helped protect, two new alleged victims have surfaced in a similar case involving another predator who preyed on boys at the school's former summer camp.

The Citadel has endured withering criticism this week after acknowledging that it bungled a 2007 complaint from a teen who accused Louis "Skip" ReVille of holding porn and masturbation sessions with boys at the camp five years earlier. The Citadel never informed police of the complaint, and ReVille went on to work with hundreds of children before his arrest Oct. 28 in Mount Pleasant on molestation charges.

The complaint was lodged just eight months after The Citadel paid out $3.8 million to settle claims resulting from Marine Capt. Michael Arpaio's sexual abuse of boys at the camp. Now the Arpaio case is back, with two more alleged victims coming forward.

Georgetown attorney Edward Bell said he expects to file a lawsuit against Arpaio and The Citadel as early as today alleging that the former Marine raped a boy while working at the camp between 1995 and 2001. Another suit with a separate victim is in the works, but details in that case are still being reviewed, he said.

The Citadel had no comment on Bell's planned lawsuits. "We cannot comment on something we have not seen," Citadel spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells said.

Bell, who represented the five Arpaio victims who settled with the school in 2006, said he was stunned to learn that The Citadel failed to notify authorities of the ReVille allegations so soon after the Arpaio case.

"I would have thought they learned their lesson," Bell said. "One's actions should always fall on the side of protecting children rather than looking out for your own legal liability."

Bell had made similar complaints about The Citadel's handling of the Arpaio case as well, accusing the school of virtually ignoring the allegations when they were first made. The school has said that it dismissed Arpaio as soon it learned he had been molesting kids.

Where is Arpaio?

In 2003, Arpaio, then 29, pleaded guilty in military court to charges ranging from indecent assault to providing alcohol to minors. He was sentenced during a court-martial to 10 years of confinement, suspended to 15 months at the Navy brig in Hanahan, authorities said.

Just what happened to Arpaio next is unclear. The brig won't say when he was released and the Marines couldn't locate his records Wednesday. What is known is that Arpaio is not listed on the national sex offender registry, despite his history of abusing young boys.

The State Law Enforcement Division, which manages South Carolina's registry, said it was up to the Marines to notify them when Arpaio was released so he could be registered. Other officials suggested it was the brig's responsibility. Still others said Arpaio might have gotten a pass because he was tried in the military court system rather than in civilian courts.

Allison Turkel is a senior policy adviser with the federal Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking in Washington, D.C. Turkel said a number of scenarios could have come into play.

A lack of uniform standards among states at the time Arpaio was sentenced could have created confusion and a lack of notification when he was released. He might have tried to register with a local agency but they couldn't access his military records to verify the charges. Or perhaps his military charges didn't jibe with the state offenses that qualify someone for inclusion on the registry.

Turkel said the system is improving and more jurisdictions are coming on board. But offenders will continue to prey upon others and get away with crimes because victims often aren't believed and institutions cover up scandals to protect their image, she said.

"It's horrible and shocking," she said, "but unfortunately it's a much more regular thing than the public understands."

Failure to notify

That understanding has grown in recent days with revelations about the sex-abuse scandal at Penn State University and The Citadel's missteps with the ReVille case.

Documents released by The Citadel this week show the school was told in 2007 that ReVille allegedly 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. A school attorney's notes also include allegations that ReVille might have showered with boys. None of that information was shared with police at the time.

Instead, the school plotted legal strategy and considered floating a $20,000 settlement offer to the teen who filed the complaint, documents show.

Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa this week publicly apologized for the school's handling of the 2007 complaint and urged cadets to cooperate with a Charleston police investigation of ReVille, who was senior counselor at the camp. "We should have done more," he told cadets Tuesday. "We know that."

ReVille is charged with molesting five boys in Mount Pleasant, and authorities have indicated that more charges are on the way.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.