Rosa says it's time to be accountable

Citadel President John Rosa addresses the corps of cadets on November 15, 2011. File/Wade Spees/Staff

Wade Spees

Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa is urging cadets to cooperate with investigators as Charleston police examine long-shelved allegations Louis "Skip" ReVille shared porn and masturbation sessions with juvenile campers at the school.

Meanwhile, a private Lowcountry school where ReVille coached and taught, Pinewood Prep in Summerville, is pledging to say something soon about its own history with the admitted molester after weeks of silence on the matter.

Rosa told a packed hall of 2,200 cadets Tuesday afternoon that the school regrets failing to inform police about a camper's allegation when it first surfaced in 2007. The teen told school officials that five years earlier, ReVille lured male campers into his room with Chinese food and pizza, then exposed them to porn and group masturbation.

The Citadel quietly shelved the matter after a brief internal investigation and never reported the complaint to police. ReVille went on to teach and coach around the Lowcountry, and he is now charged with molesting at least five boys.

'Trying times'

Rosa has come under heavy criticism for his handling of the case, but he gave every indication Tuesday that he intends to stick around and lead his school through its current crisis. He also urged cadets to support one another as they deal with the situation and the search for a distraught cadet who has been missing since last week.

"We are going through some trying times," Rosa said. "But trying times define an organization. Trying times define leaders who lead organizations. I will continue to lead this organization in the best way I know how."

The school's Board of Visitors has given no indication of where it stands on Rosa's handling of the case or his continued tenure. Board members on Tuesday referred questions to Chairman Douglas Snyder, who did not return a phone call from The Post and Courier.

Rosa told cadets that on the battlefield and in life, leaders must sometimes make tough decisions with incomplete information.

He acknowledged that the school bungled the ReVille case, but insisted that he and Citadel officials acted in good faith and thought they were making the right decisions at the time. The right thing now is to be accountable, he said.

"We should have done more," he said. "We know that."

The Citadel revealed the 2007 complaint at the beginning of the month following ReVille's arrest in Mount Pleasant, but officials refused for more than two weeks to provide any specifics about the allegation. They changed course Monday.

Rosa publicly apologized for the school's handling of the complaint, and The Citadel turned over hundreds of pages of documents in response to a Freedom of Information request from the newspaper.

Rosa told cadets he balked at in-house suggestions that the school hold back some of the documents. "That's not what we are about," he said. "If we know something, we've got to release it."

Rosa told the crowd that all documents from the case have been turned over to Charleston police to investigate. He urged cadets who attended camps with ReVille to contact police if they have any information that could aid the investigation.

Several area police departments are involved. Mount Pleasant police are leading the effort and are the only agency to file charges against ReVille, though more counts are expected.

Mount Pleasant Police Chief Harry Sewell revealed Tuesday that police seized a computer hard drive from ReVille's home and are searching it for possible images and evidence linked to the molestation incidents.

Pinewood Prep

Also Tuesday, Pinewood Preparatory School said it soon plans to release a new statement about ReVille and his 2002-2006 tenure there. The private Summerville school serves preschool through grade 12.

Pinewood Prep is ReVille's only known former Lowcountry workplace that has not provided detailed information or answered questions from reporters, despite several requests to do so.

"We will be issuing another statement fairly soon," Head of School Carolyn Baechtle told a reporter who showed up at Pinewood seeking answers. "We think it's a good thing to do."

ReVille, 32, joined the staff at Pinewood Prep after graduating from the Citadel in 2002. Pinewood, a school of 800 students founded in 1952, is also the place where ReVille worked the longest, serving as an English teacher and a basketball coach.

The school has said almost nothing about his time there, though notes included in paperwork The Citadel released this week indicate that ReVille was dismissed from his position at Pinewood.

A former Pinewood official recently said that ReVille's contract was not renewed. The official reason given was that his administrative skills weren't up to snuff. But there were overarching concerns about his penchant for spending large amounts of time with 12- to 14-year-old boys, the official said.

A school spokeswoman repeatedly answered, "No comment" Tuesday when a Post and Courier reporter tried to ask her whether Pinewood is cooperating with police or has been in contact with child advocacy organizations such as the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center or Darkness to Light.

School officials escorted a reporter off the property before he could continue his line of questioning.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5. Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or Twitter.com/sapakoff