Citadel's Rosa: 'We are sorry'

Citadel President John Rosa answers questions Monday afternoon regarding Skip ReVille, who is accused of molesting children. Rosa said the institution should have done more in response to a 2007 complaint against ReVille, a Citadel graduate and former camp counselor at the college.

Brad Nettles

The Citadel failed to tell police in 2007 about allegations that a camp counselor had engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a 14-year-old boy, enabling Louis "Skip" ReVille to prey on teenagers across the Lowcountry until he was arrested last month.

"I'd say we are profoundly sorry," Citadel President Gen. John Rosa said Monday. "We are sorry we didn't pursue it more."

Rosa said police are now involved in the investigation.

Detailed documents released by the school Monday describe a night of watching pornographic videos and engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct with ReVille, who was a cadet and camp counselor. The incident sent the 14-year-old camper's life spiraling into a "dark" side of drug use, tumbling grades and long therapy sessions, the teen told the school's attorney.

"For the longest time, I just thought it was my fault, maybe that I was a bad person," the teen said of the 2002 incident in a 2007 interview with Citadel General Counsel Mark Brandenburg.

In not taking the teen's complaints to police, The Citadel let ReVille off the hook, an attorney representing the now young man said Monday, resulting in a widening child sex abuse

scandal that came to light with ReVille's arrest in Mount Pleasant on Oct. 28.

"Had The Citadel come forward in 2007 and reported the very facts that are in a detailed 157-page statement, what we're seeing now as a community may never have happened," said attorney Mullins McLeod, who represents the young man and his family.

The jailed 32-year-old former coach, teacher and Bible study leader is charged with sexually abusing five boys. Police have indicated at least six more charges are expected against ReVille, who graduated in 2002.

Rosa apologized during a news conference on campus Monday. Rosa said the school should have investigated the camper's complaint instead of virtually ignoring it.

At the time he came forward, the teen told The Citadel's lawyer: "I don't want him to do to another kid what he did to me."

McLeod said the young man and his family were "devastated" when they heard the news of ReVille's arrest.

"They are grief-stricken. They thought that the situation had been taken care of," McLeod said.

The college was bound by law to pass on to police the contents of the 2007 allegation, McLeod maintained. He said the Citadel should not have limited its investigation to an in-house one in which ReVille, a Citadel graduate, was reportedly asked about -- and denied -- the allegation.

"The Citadel investigating itself is no investigation at all," McLeod said.

Failure to act

The boy said he watched pornography in ReVille's room with other campers. ReVille did not touch the camper but they masturbated together, the boy told Brandenburg. The Citadel interviewed ReVille, who denied the allegation.

"When the family did not pursue the matter, we did not either," Rosa said. "We should have."

Rosa said The Citadel came to interpret the matter as a "settlement case." Rosa said the college believed that what the family really wanted was help in getting their teen admitted to The Citadel.

'We were going to help him complete courses that he needed to take and make recommendations, but we never heard from the family again,' Rosa said.

He said that in the incident of which ReVille was accused at The Citadel camp, "molestation" did not take place, because, the participants did not touch each other, only themselves.

'No one was molested, they did their own thing there,' he said.

Rosa said he expects "more complaints to come forward" from former Citadel campers.

The Citadel, responding to Freedom of Information Act requests from The Post and Courier, released the full 157-page interview Brandenburg conducted with the boy and his parents at their Dallas home in 2007, and other documents. But Rosa said he never read the interview transcript until receiving the FOIA request this week.

"This is not about The Citadel as an institution," McLeod said. "This is about the people who were on top of the chain of command and the decisions that they made that failed the family that I represent and the community that we all live in."

Including, McLeod implied, the five children involved in the criminal charges against ReVille.

Asked what he has to say to the kids and families involved in recent ReVille case, Rosa said, "We acted on what we thought was our best information. After the fact, we did not pursue it enough."

Rosa said no one at The Citadel has been fired or placed on leave.

"I'm here to tell you we didn't do what should have been done and there will be a thorough investigation," Rosa said.

The Citadel has contracted with Guidepost Solutions to conduct an independent investigation of the school's handling of the case and make recommendations. Guidepost is a self-described "global-based investigations and security company" with offices in eight U.S. cities and London.

'Lost public trust'

In 2007, The Citadel did nothing except offer the teen help getting into the military college. Assistance was necessary because of a plunging high school grade-point average the teen blamed on a night with ReVille.

McLeod said that after the complaint was made in 2007 to the president's office, Bradenburg was sent to Dallas to officially interview the boy and his parents. It's unclear what Rosa knew at the time the complaint was made.

The family did not go to the police, McLeod said, because the teen's father as a Citadel graduate trusted the school to "report the matter to law enforcement."

The Citadel case unfolds against the backdrop of the Penn State child sex-abuse case in which former Nittany Lions assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly raped boys on campus.

Rosa said he realizes The Citadel "has lost public trust" but said the two cases "are completely different."

"I don't know all about their case but from what I've read in the paper, what they're experiencing and what we're experiencing down here, although similar, are much different cases," Rosa said. "They witnessed something that we did not experience."

The teen and his family contacted The Citadel in the spring of 2007, just months after the school closed the camp after paying $3.8 million to five former campers who said they were molested by a Marine captain who volunteered as a counselor.

Michael Arpaio reportedly fondled the boys, plied them with drugs and booze and exposed them to pornography.

The Citadel was faulted at the time for not doing more to protect the kids and being slow to investigate when the allegations first surfaced.

Glenn Smith and Jeff Hartsell contributed to this story.