Longtime Citadel employee Kenneth Boes plans to fight a former cadet's sexual assault allegation as more community members have come to his defense, his attorney said.
Boes, 56, was arrested Aug. 22 on charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony that carries up to 10 years in prison, and misdemeanor transferring beer or wine to someone under 21. He resigned from the military college last week. He had been a TAC officer tasked with teaching, advising and coaching cadets.
For some Citadel alumni and others in the Charleston community, the accusations don't fit with the man they know — someone they say is honorable, has helped many cadets and has served in the Army, defense attorney Andy Savage said.
Savage's office interviewed more than 100 people who knew Boes or knew of him, the lawyer said.
"No one had anything that I would say was negative," Savage said. "The worst ones (were) neutral but very sympathetic to his work."
That reputation surfaced on a website organized by Boes' supporters. It features character testimonials and a fundraising drive that aims to collect $250,000 through T-shirt sales and donations. The website says the money would be used to cover Boes' legal costs and to support his family.
The allegation emerged amid a nationwide inspection of sexual assault and harassment that has become known as the #MeToo movement. Sara Barber, executive director of S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said support campaigns for accused people have remained common during the movement, but they can be problematic if the allegations prove true.
"People very much have trouble believing that someone they admire ... is also capable of doing great harm," she said. "Every time someone is accused, there's a groundswell of support that really diminishes the pain and hurt for the victim. ... I hope the #MeToo movement is just the beginning of change in how society reacts to sexual assault."
Boes' personnel file showed no other allegations of sexual assault. In 2009, he was issued a letter of reprimand after a school official said he showed insubordination for resisting changes designed to address shortcomings in his battalion.
In the recent sex assault allegation, court documents outline the case.
According to an affidavit, the relationship between Boes and the cadet lasted from July 2017 until March.
Boes hosted the cadet at his on-campus housing, where they drank alcohol, the affidavit alleged.
On separate occasions, the document stated, Boes forcibly kissed the cadet and gave the young man two "unknown white pills" to prevent a hangover. The pills made the cadet black out, the affidavit alleged. Boes was accused of then performing sexual acts on the cadet.
For the rest of the school year, Boes used his authority over the cadet to solicit non-consensual sexual favors, the document alleged.
Savage disputed the chain of events.
Boes was known for helping cadets who were having a difficult time, the attorney said.
"He always — with his family, not alone — took concern with cadets who were not local," Savage said. "The individual involved, he sort of had a wounded wing, so Ken and his family paid particular attention to him. It was not anything hidden. It was quite public."
Savage said the cadet and Boes' daughter also struck up a brief relationship, complicating matters.
At the time of his arrest, Boes had been working in what Citadel officials described as "an office role." He was ordered not to have any contact with cadets, a standard policy after such allegations surface.
After posting bail, Boes returned home, where he was greeted by cadets lining the street in a show of support, Savage said. Caught up in the emotion, Boes high-fived some of the cadets, the lawyer said.
"The next morning, he gets called in and is told he violated the policy," Savage said.
Boes resigned. His income — about $65,000 yearly, state records show — was cut off, Savage said. He was given a month to leave his campus home.
A lieutenant colonel and himself a Citadel graduate, Boes served four years on active duty as a field artillery officer from 1984 until his honorable discharge in 1988, according to his biography. Boes has been awarded a Bronze Star, the biography added. He joined the Army Reserve as a civil affairs officer in 2007.
Savage said his client self-reported the accusation to the U.S. Army Reserve on June 2, after agents with the State Law Enforcement Division began investigating and Citadel officials were informed of the situation.