COLUMBIA (AP) — A lawsuit contends that The Citadel knew one of its counselors was abusing summer campers in the mid-1990s but didn’t fire him and did nothing to stop it — yet another in a string of sexual-abuse accusations that have been made against two men who worked at the military college’s summer camp.
The suit was filed in federal court in Charleston earlier this week by a now-25-year-old alleged victim who claimed to have been abused on 21 different occasions by Michael Arpaio. The Citadel ultimately closed its summer camp in 2005 after reaching a $3.8 million settlement with five campers who said the former Marine captain had 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. According to the lawsuit, Arpaio was indicted in 2009 on federal charges including conspiracy to commit murder and disposing of a cadaver and is currently in federal prison.
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, the suit said.
During that time, the lawsuit alleges, campers often stayed in Arpaio’s room, where they were exposed to pornography, alcohol and sexual abuse.
“Various staff and other employees of the Citadel Summer Camp and Citadel became aware of Arpaio’s predatory and inappropriate actions and propensities,” according to the suit. “Each day the Citadel failed to terminate Arpaio constitutes a separate occurrence giving rise to the multiple acts of physical and sexual assault, abuse, misconduct, and molestation suffered by the Plaintiff.”
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.
The lawsuit comes a year after another former Citadel camp 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. The college did its own investigation, but the police were not initially contacted.
Earlier this year, an external report noted that The Citadel had conducted an inadequate investigation into the sex abuse complaint. Some former campers who say they were abused by ReVille are also suing The Citadel for failing to properly investigate abuse allegations.
An attorney for The Citadel said Friday that the school would keep defending itself against such accusations.
“Our intention would be to defend that case just as we’ve been defending the litigation,” attorney Dawes Cook said.