NEW: "I was put in a hole because of what happened," the former camper said
NEW: "I don't want him to do to another kid what he did to me," he told The Citadel's lawyer
A former camp counselor faces at least six criminal counts in another case
"We should have done more," says Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa
A troubled youth who reported inappropriate sexual conduct by a counselor at The Citadel’s now-defunct summer camp told a school lawyer that several other campers had similar encounters, documents released by the military college show.
“It only happened to me one time. I know there are about five other kids that experienced it a few times,” the former camper, whose name is redacted in the documents, told The Citadel’s general counsel Mark Brandenburg in a 2007 interview.
In that interview, the then-19-year old described how counselor Louis Neal “Skip” ReVille had shown boys pornography, masturbated in front of them and pressured them to join him during a summer five years before. The former camper said he gave in to the pressure, only to feel “completely violated” immediately afterward.
“After that incident, I kind of crossed over to the dark side,” he said, according to a transcript released by The Citadel this week. “I started doing horribly in school. It led to drug use and you know – cigarettes, alcohol … and for the longest time, you know, I just thought it was my fault.”
ReVille was arrested in October on charges of molesting at least five children in alleged incidents in the Charleston area, unrelated to The Citadel accusations. According to court documents, he has admitted guilt in at least three cases involving incidents between November 2010 and October 2011.
ReVille’s attorney, Craig Jones Jr., has said his client is sorry for what he did, according to CNN affiliate WCBD.
“Hopefully the way he’s cooperated, that’s one way he can hopefully show … do what he can to help the victims to whatever extent he can,” Jones said. “There’s no way that, obviously, he can repair the damage that’s been done.”
The Citadel is now facing questions about why it didn’t bring the allegations against him to police at the time the former camper’s family approached school officials with his story.
“I don’t want him to do to another kid what he did to me,” the camper told Brandenburg in 2007, according to the documents.
The school’s president, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John Rosa, said Monday that the university is “profoundly sorry” for the way it handled the matter.
“When the family did not pursue the matter, we did not either. We should have,” Rosa said. “Regardless of whether the law said we were supposed to report or not, we should have reported this. We should have taken more action.”
And in a written statement, Rosa said Brandenburg tried to contact other people the former camper identified, without success.
“After initial communications were not returned, it was understood they did not want to speak with us,” Rosa said in a written statement. “However, we should have more aggressively sought out individuals able to shed light on the incident.”
Mullins McLeod, a lawyer for the boy’s family, said the family had believed the school would report the allegation to police.
“The father looked up online and saw there was a requirement, he believed, that the institution report it to local local law enforcement,” McLeod said. “He’s a Citadel alumnus, and he went straight to the president of the college.”
The transcript was among hundreds of pages of documents released by The Citadel this week in response to a public-records request. The story has attracted national attention in the wake of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, which led to the ouster of that university’s president and legendary head football coach Joe Paterno.
The Citadel has said a review of ReVille’s records in 2007 revealed no other complaints, and his file included a clean background check. He was a highly respected cadet and denied the accusation, the college said.
The former camper came forward a year after the 165-year-old military academy paid $3.8 million to settle a lawsuit involving another camp counselor. That counselor, Marine Capt. Michael Arpaio, later served 15 months in prison for sexual abuse.
In the Arpaio case, The Citadel said it “acted immediately to investigate the report” and remove him. Rosa said Monday the school has hired a New York-based security consulting firm to review its handling of the ReVille case and recommend improvements.
The former camper said his life had gone into a downward spiral after his encounter with ReVille – but at the time of his interview, he had earned a high-school diploma, was working a steady job and was considering joining the military.
“I was put in a hole because of what happened. I’ve been trying really hard to get myself out of this hole,” he said.
According to documents released by The Citadel, when Brandenburg asked him whether he had reported the abuse to police, he replied, “Well, I’ve talked to you.” Brandenburg told him, “I’m not a law-enforcement official. I don’t have a badge or anything like that. And my job is to look out after the day-to-day legal well-being, so to speak, of the school.”
The Citadel approached ReVille with the allegation, and ReVille denied it, according to an August 2007 memo from Brandenburg. However, Brandenburg noted a previous counselor accused of sexual misconduct had denied allegations against him in an “equally forceful” manner, and that denial “ultimately proved false.”
The university sent letters to two former cadets who served as camp counselors the same year, but there was no indication in the records that they responded. The Citadel closed the file on the matter in November 2007, four months after the interview with the former camper.
Rosa said the school has shared all information the school had with the Charleston police department, and asked anyone who had other information regarding ReVille to step forward.