Gov. Nikki Haley is demanding answers about The Citadel's bungling of a complaint against molester Louis "Skip" ReVille as the case spurs calls for stronger state and national laws to protect children from sexual abuse.
Haley said Thursday she wants to know why the state's military college failed to report a teen's 2007 complaint accusing ReVille of hosting porn and masturbation sessions with boys while a counselor at the school's summer camp. The Citadel shelved the case without telling police.
"At the time an incident like this occurs, anyone in a position of authority with information has a responsibility to turn it over to law enforcement," Haley said. "That didn't happen here, which is totally unacceptable, and we need to find out why."
Meanwhile, the top Democrat on the House Education Committee is calling for a hearing on the sex abuse scandals at The Citadel and Penn
State University. U.S. Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat, wants to determine if changes are needed in federal laws designed to protect children and students.
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said there "should be a full investigation to ascertain what if any laws were broken or need to be modified."
And at the state level, Rep. Peter McCoy, R-Charleston, has pre-filed legislation that would require anyone who has information about potential child sexual abuse to report it to authorities. Currently, South Carolina law only requires certain professions, including teachers, police and medical professionals, to report.
"In light of the tragedies affecting the alleged young victims at Penn State University and The Citadel and numerous new allegations across our state, it is imperative that anyone and everyone given information of child sexual abuse report," McCoy, a former prosecutor, said.
The Citadel has endured withering criticism this week after acknowledging that it mishandled the 2007 complaint. ReVille went on to work with hundreds of children as a coach and educator before his arrest Oct. 28 in Mount Pleasant on molestation charges. He now stands accused of molesting five boys, and police have indicated more charges are on the way.
Haley said she has spoken to Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa about the matter and wants to ensure a similar debacle doesn't happen in the future.
Citadel spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells said the school is already working toward that goal by hiring an independent firm, Guidepost Solutions, to thoroughly review the school's handling of the case and make recommendations.
"I appreciate that General Rosa is taking action to make sure that this doesn't happen again," Haley said. "I'm still going to wait, just like the rest of the public is, on what comes out of those results and what they're going to do about it."
The two scandals
The Citadel has done its best to draw distinctions between the ReVille case and the scandal at Penn State, where an assistant football coach is charged with sexually abusing eight boys while his superiors stayed silent.
Rosa has insisted the two cases "are completely different," but many others don't see it that way.
The ReVille case has made headlines everywhere from The Washington Post and CNN to PerezHilton.com and The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom. And many, like National Public Radio blogger Mark Memmott, have found the case "depressingly similar" to Penn State's woes.
On the Huffington Post website, author and former prosecutor Christine Pelosi called the The Citadel's "cover-up" of the ReVille complaint "a moral failure to 'duty honor country.' "
"We know that Citadel's disturbing conspiracy of silence did a disservice to the victim and his parents, and endangered future children such as the ones ReVille is charged with molesting," she wrote. "That is why the Citadel employees who covered up the child sex abuse charges must stand down and the Citadel community needs to take a lesson from Penn State's initial mistake: rally around the victims not the enablers."
Cover-up or a mistake?
Documents released by The Citadel this week show the school was told that ReVille allegedly lured male campers into his room in 2002 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.
After graduating from The Citadel in 2002, ReVille went on to serve as a teacher and assistant coach at Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville, a tennis coach at Bishop England High School, a coach at the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department, a basketball coach at Moultrie Middle School, a travel league basketball coach, a coach at Velocity Sports Performance in Mount Pleasant, an occasional volunteer basketball coach at Rollings Middle School of the Arts in Summerville, a foster parent to four children and a youth group leader at Eastbridge Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant.
Police in several jurisdictions are now investigating his activities along the way.
Rosa has 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."
Rosa has said school officials were not legally bound to report the complaint at that time, but should have done so anyway. Mullins McLeod, attorney for the camper who filed the complaint, disputes that interpretation and insists the school was required by law to report the allegations to police.
If passed, McCoy's amendments to the state's reporting law would require any "person in this State (who) has received information which gives the person reason to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected" to report to the Department of Social Services or local law enforcement.
The legislation would not change the penalty of failing to report, which is a fine of up to $500 and/or up to six months in prison.
McCoy, a former 9th Circuit assistant solicitor, said the bill is critical to give voices to those who may not have the courage to speak for themselves.
"The pain and fear the victims have, in many cases, is known by others who are simply unfamiliar with what to do," he said. "My legislation makes it very clear: if you know, you must report and give a potential victim the strength they need."
Meanwhile, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden was in Charleston on Thursday to accept an award from Darkness to Light, a nonprofit that works to prevent child sexual abuse.
Biden, son of the vice president, said new federal laws will be needed if the states don't act soon. Laws must make it mandatory to report abuse to social services agencies or law enforcement, he said.
Robert Behre, Edward Fennell and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or on Twitter at @glennsmith5.