CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Citadel, South Carolina's state military college, was "grossly negligent" and worried only about its reputation when it failed to report a sex abuse complaint to law enforcement four years ago, a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges.
The suit was brought by nationally known abuse victim attorney Jeff Anderson on behalf of a mother who lives out of state. Her son, the complaint says, was molested by Louis "Skip" ReVille after ReVille left The Citadel.
ReVille was a counselor at The Citadel's summer camp nine years ago and the college received a complaint in 2007 from a camper who said he had been sexually abused. The military college did an internal investigation, but did not notify police at the time.
ReVille, 32, a Citadel graduate, is now charged with molesting nine youngsters after he left The Citadel when he was a teacher and coach in Charleston area schools, recreation programs and churches. He was arrested in October.
The lawsuit says the woman's son would not have been molested had The Citadel let others know about ReVille.
"If The Citadel had done what it should have done — act to protect kids instead of act to protect its image and reputation and keeping silence — we wouldn't be here," Anderson told reporters shortly after the lawsuit was filed in state court. "This family would not have been fractured and this child violated."
The lawsuit says the boy was molested in 2007 and 2008.
Citadel spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells said the college does not comment on pending litigation. The AP left a message seeking comment with college attorney Dawes Cooke.
Last month, the college's president, retired Lt. Gen. John Rosa, conceded more should have been done four years ago.
"At the time we took what we thought were the necessary steps. It's now clear we should have done more," he said. The college has hired an outside firm to review how it handled the complaint and has asked state Attorney General Alan Wilson to appoint a special counsel to investigate.
Attorney Gregg Meyers, an associate of Anderson's, said the suit seeks unspecified damages as well as an injunction requiring the college to report such allegations to law enforcement in the future.
"We hope to eliminate the confusion and ambiguity they apparently have about where their priorities should be," he said. "By their own account The Citadel fell short in protecting children downstream. Every single child after July 1, 2007, could have completely avoided contact with Skip ReVille and that is the terrible tragedy."
Rosa said last month the college was not required to report to police in 2007, although that is disputed by attorneys for ReVille's victims.
Emails released by the school show the internal investigation was an attempt to prevent outside involvement.
"I am hopeful that, by conducting an investigation on behalf of the school, no 'formal' investigation — criminal or civil — will occur," Citadel general counsel Mark Brandenburg wrote in a May 8, 2007, email. "Of course, I cannot guarantee that, as I have no control over what the complainant does."
During that internal investigation, ReVille denied the allegation by the camper. The college has not made Brandenburg available for comment.
ReVille is now in jail with bond set at $1.4 million. His attorney said at a bond hearing his client is "extremely remorseful" for the pain he's caused.