CHARLESTON, S.C. — At The Citadel, a barracks plaque enshrines a quote from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee: “Duty is the sublimest word in the English language.”
Now the state military college is doing some very public soul searching over whether the school did its duty by nine young boys in the Charleston area who say they were abused by a man who once was a counselor at the school’s summer camp.
As authorities prepare to prosecute ex-counselor Louis ReVille for crimes allegedly committed after he left the school, the Citadel’s president has acknowledged that the college should have contacted police in 2007 after a former camper told Citadel officials he had been abused by ReVille five years earlier. Instead, the college conducted its own internal investigation – which a school attorney hoped at the time would prevent a criminal investigation or a lawsuit, according to e-mails – but did not tell police.
The college has hired an outside firm to review how it handled the complaint and asked state Attorney General Alan Wilson to appoint a special counsel to investigate how the accusation was handled.
“At the time we took what we thought were the necessary steps. It’s now clear we should have done more,” the Citadel’s president, retired Lt. Gen. John Rosa, said last week.
ReVille, a 32-year-old Citadel graduate, is charged with molesting nine youngsters when he was a teacher and coach in Charleston-area schools, recreation programs and churches after leaving the college. He was arrested in October, and authorities say additional charges are expected.
When news of the arrest broke, the Citadel did not release information about ReVille’s time as a counselor.
They later acknowledged that ReVille reportedly lured campers into his room with Chinese food and pizza where he showed pornographic videos and the counselor and campers masturbated together.
That allegation came the year after the college closed its summer camp, which once hosted as many as 500 children a year.
The camp was closed after the Citadel reached a $3.8 million settlement with five campers who alleged they had been sexually abused by Marine Capt. Michael Arpaio, a counselor between 1995 and 2001. Arpaio pleaded guilty to multiple charges in 2003 after a military court-martial and served 15 months at the Charleston Naval Brig.
Rosa said the 2007 accuser and his family stressed the importance of privacy, and that ReVille was an award-winning cadet and denied the allegation.
“When the family did not pursue the matter, we did not either,” Rosa said. “We should have.”
Instead the college, which famously fought for years in the 1990s to keep women out of its then all-male Corps of Cadets, had its own attorney do an internal investigation, according to documents released last month.
“I am hopeful that, by conducting an investigation on behalf of the school, no ‘formal’ investigation – criminal or civil – will occur,” said a May 8, 2007, e-mail from Mark Brandenburg, the college’s general counsel. “Of course, I cannot guarantee that, as I have no control over what the complainant does.” The college has not made Brandenburg available for interviews.
ReVille is in jail with bond set at $1.4 million. His attorney said at a bond hearing that his client is “extremely remorseful” for the pain he has caused but denies the 2007 allegation.
The 2007 victim is the son of a Citadel graduate and did not go to the police. In a redacted deposition, the victim said he didn’t want any trouble for the school but that the incident had “put him in a hole” and added, “I do expect some sort of compensation.”