CHARLESTON — The Citadel conducted an inadequate investigation into a sex abuse complaint against a former Citadel camp counselor now serving 50 years for child molestation.
But there was no school conspiracy to cover up that complaint, a report compiled by experts hired by the military college concluded Friday.
“There appeared to be no conspiracy or decision process with an underlying purpose of concealment of the allegation,” the report said. “Rather it was a well-intentioned but inadequate investigation conducted by a single administrative member operating in a vacuum of policy or procedure with the administration passively relying on incomplete or sporadic progress reports.”
The college’s Board of Visitors hired two outside firms last year to investigate a 2007 complaint from a former camper about Louis “Skip” ReVille, a Citadel graduate and former teacher who worked at schools, camps, churches and recreation programs in the Charleston area. He was sentenced last June after pleading guilty to 22 abuse counts.
While the college did its own investigation, police were never contacted.
“The report is silent with regard to accountability, which is troublesome, because without accountability there will be no prevention,” responded Mullins McLeod, an attorney who represents the camper and other ReVille victims who have sued the college. “Had the people in charge at The Citadel practiced what they preached, then innocent children would not have been abused.”
The 2007 complaint alleged that at The Citadel’s summer camp in 2002, ReVille lured campers into his room with Chinese food and pizza. He showed the boys pornographic videos, showered with them and masturbated in front of them, the report stated. The camp closed in 2005.
The report concluded that Mark Brandenburg, the college’s general counsel, largely handled the 2007 complaint from the former camper who then was an adult. The school said Brandenburg would not comment.
Joe McCulloch, the independent counsel hired to oversee the investigation into how the complaint was handled, said it was treated more like an insurance claim. He said neither the former camper nor his parents wanted publicity and did not want authorities notified.
“The conversation turned to the ability of the young man to make his way into the Citadel through an admissions process somewhat connected to what happened five years earlier,” he said.
Gary Margolis of Margolis, Haley & Associates said that in the case of such complaints, a team of people from a college of university should be involved.
“To me, the question was not so much a call to external law enforcement. The question is, did the right people at The Citadel come together and talk about this with a multidisciplinary approach?” he said.
That group could include such people as campus police, counselors, Title IX coordinators and the like, he said, adding that across the country, not every allegation of abuse ends up with the police.
“I’m 100 percent sure that not every complaint that arrives at any university’s doorstep in the United States generates a call to police or even the campus police,” he said. “I would be hesitant to say a call to police was the only thing The Citadel could have or should have done.”
Anne Franke of Wise Results said while South Carolina law requires certain professionals such as teachers and physicians to report instances of abuse or suspected abuse involving children, there is no mandatory reporting involving adults.
“What we had in 2007 was a hybrid situation where an adult was reporting sexual violations that occurred during childhood,” she said. “The law isn’t much help on it.”
She has recommended, among other things, that The Citadel make clearer its policy on protection of minors, appoint a child protection officer and improve internal reporting for abuse complaints.
Douglas Snyder, chairman of the Board of Visitors, said the board would move quickly to review the recommendations. He also gave a vote of confidence to retired Lt. Gen. John Rosa, the college president, saying he had provided exemplary leadership.
Rosa was the one who called for an independent investigation into how The Citadel handled the complaint.