CHARLESTON, S.C. - Two female Citadel cadets want to review information on missing tapes, confiscated pornographic pictures, evidence of branding and e-mail about hazing in order to decide whether the school is safe enough to return, one of their lawyers said Friday.
Kim Messer of Clover and Jeanie Mentavlos of Charlotte, N.C., say they were targets of hazing at the state military college, and they are trying to decide if they will return after Christmas break, lawyer Tim Kulp said.
The alleged hazing included setting their clothes on fire, being shoved with rifles and being forced to drink alcohol, their lawyers say. They left the cadet corps during final semester exams after their allegations became public.
They are among four women admitted into the formerly all-male corps this year after the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a similar all-male admissions policy at the Virginia Military Institute.
Kulp said he is not implying the women were branded or shown any pornographic material.
"Sometimes it is hard to separate fact from fiction. You hear all kinds of stuff," he said. "So we want to hear it from them."
Kulp said the women's other lawyer, Paul Gibson, had received calls from parents of male Citadel cadets who had been hazed.
"It's not a fishing expedition," Kulp said. "It's an attempt to acquire information."
The Citadel, which is closed for the holidays, said Friday it would not respond to the lawyers' request before Jan. 2.
"For the lawyers to suggest that the information is needed in order for the women to decide whether to return for the second semester is absurd," the school's statement said. "There is absolutely no record of any female cadet being injured or physically harmed by other cadets."
The State Law Enforcement Division and the FBI are looking into the women's allegations. A report is expected early next month. The school also is investigating.
After the allegations became public, the college suspended two cadets and relieved five others of their military command duties.
The request under the state Freedom of Information Act that first was reported Friday by The (Charleston) Post and Courier seeks:
- A tape lawyers say was taken from Ms. Mentavlos after upperclassmen discovered she was carrying a hidden tape recorder in addition to the names of everyone who came in contact with the tape.
- A statement lawyers say Ms. Mentavlos gave after an incident in which she says she was hit in the face with cardboard and wounded, and the names of everyone who came in contact with her statement.
- Copies of all documents related to any seizures of alcohol, pornographic pictures, weapons, indecent songs or music, indecent material off the Internet, fire-making material and flesh-branding tools from cadets of all ranks in the 1996 school year.
Other information being sought includes documents of all contact between the female cadets' parents and the school's chain of command; documents of all incidents or allegations of hazing; and any campus e-mail about the women joining the corps, or about an episode when three of the women reportedly cut their own hair.
The other female cadets, Nancy Mace of Goose Creek and Petra Lovetinska, a Czech national who lives in Washington, D.C., have not made any hazing allegations.