Citadel asks federal judge to dismiss complaint alleging school knew counselor abused kids

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COLUMBIA — The Citadel has asked a federal judge to dismiss a complaint alleging it knew one of its counselors was abusing summer campers in the mid-1990s but did not fire him or stop the abuse.

The allegations against the school come as part of a string of sexual-abuse accusations against two men who worked at the military college’s summer camp, which closed in 2005.

In papers filed in court this week, The Citadel said statutes of limitations on allegations against the school expired, in some instances, more than a decade ago. The school also said the state’s Tort Claims Act protects The Citadel from some of the claims and that the school can’t be held liable for acts of violence committed by an employee.

“The South Carolina Supreme Court has held that an act of violence by an employee is not attributable to his employer, unless the act was taken in furtherance of the interest of his employer,” attorneys for the school wrote.

Last month, a now-25-year-old alleged victim sued The Citadel, saying he was abused on 21 different occasions by Michael Arpaio and that others at the school knew about the activity but did not stop it. School attorneys have said they would defend against the accusations. The Citadel closed its summer camp after reaching a nearly $4 million settlement with five campers who said Arpaio, a former Marine captain, abused them between 1995 and 2001.

Arpaio pleaded guilty to multiple charges in 2003 following a military court-martial and served 15 months at the Charleston Naval Brig. Court records show Arpaio was ultimately sentenced to serve more than 12 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a carjacking charge in 2012.

According to the lawsuit, Arpaio attended The Citadel from 1993 until 1997 and worked at the summer camp for seven years, starting in 1995.

The unidentified camper was at the Citadel for three weeks each summer from 1998 to 2000. During that time, the lawsuit alleges, campers often stayed in Arpaio’s room, where they were exposed to pornography, alcohol and sexual abuse.

Camp officials knew that Arpaio was molesting campers and regularly taking some of them to his private apartment but never reported the activity, according to the lawsuit, which also says camp counselors weren’t given adequate training regarding sexual misconduct or assault.

In 2012, another former counselor was sentenced to 50 years in prison after a separate sex abuse scandal. Louis “Skip” ReVille, a Citadel graduate and former teacher who worked at schools, camps, churches and recreation programs in the Charleston area, pleaded guilty to 22 abuse counts.

In the aftermath of that case, the school’s Board of Visitors hired two outside firms to investigate a former camper’s 2007 complaint about ReVille. Last year, an external report noted that The Citadel had conducted an inadequate investigation into the issue.

Some former campers who say they were abused by ReVille are also suing The Citadel for failing to properly investigate abuse allegations.

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