New allegations of sexual misconduct surface at The Citadel

New allegations of sexual misconduct surface at The Citadel
Published: Sep. 18, 2012 at 3:05 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2012 at 3:10 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
The Citadel campus entrance.
The Citadel campus entrance.

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Citadel has requested assistance from the State Law Enforcement Division after new allegations of sexual misconduct involving a former cadet surfaced at the military college.

According to an incident report filed with The Citadel Department of Public Safety, the first reported incident happened in late April 2010, when a victim claimed he was inappropriately touched by the suspect.

The report states the suspect suggested the victim spend the night with him in his room so they could "maximize their studying time." The victim said he was hesitant to spend the night since he was just a "knob," the term Citadel cadets use for freshmen.

The victim said he became uncomfortable shortly after entering the room because the suspect immediately locked door to "prevent others from disturbing them."

When they were finished studying, the victim told officers the suspect put on the movie "The Patriot" and as they were watching, the suspect stood up from his chair and started massaging the victim's shoulders and back before pulling a chair up alongside the victim's chair.

Then, the suspect put his left hand on the inner portion of the victim's right thigh, a few inches below the groin area, the report states. The victim responded by pushing the suspect's hand away, to which the suspect replied, "it was okay for guys to touch each other."

The report states the suspect then grabbed the victim's genitals and the victim again showed his disapproval, and the suspect said it was normal and okay for guys to touch each other and that "everyone did it."

The suspect then alluded to watching pornography and masturbating with a group of guys, according to the report. The suspect also reportedly told the victim "it was more okay for guys to be with guys sexually before marriage than to be with girls and that God would be less angry at the two guys messing around than a guy and a girl."

The victim told officers he was surprised by the suspect's comments and did not respond, but that he did remain in the suspect's room through the night, though he did not sleep out of fear of further advances, the report states.

While the cadet reportedly told his parents and a classmate about the encounter, he chose not to make a complaint because it would "not turn out well" due to the suspect's "perceived position of power at the school and status within the corps of cadets."

The next reported incidents involving the same suspect happened in early February 2011, when a victim claimed to being assaulted on three separate occasions over a four-day period before and during a trip to Washington, DC for the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference.

According to that report, as soon as the victim walked into the suspect's room on Citadel campus, he was directed to sit on the bed while the suspect locked the door. The victim told police the suspect then walked over to him, grabbed his face with both hands, and leaned in as if he were attempting to kiss him.

The victim also said the suspect leaned into him "in a manner that allowed the suspect's genitals to press against the victim's thigh." The victim said he leaned back as if he was going to hit the suspect, and the suspect asked if he made him feel uncomfortable.

The report states the suspect continued to question why the victim was uncomfortable before a series of interruptions came in the form of other cadets entering the room.

The report states a day or two later in a Washington, DC hotel room, the suspect jumped on top of the victim as the victim slept on his stomach in bed. The victim said he rolled over and told the suspect, "I can't hit a senior; I don't know what to do," to which the suspect replied, "When I was a knob, I used to wrestle with my upperclassmen."

A witness to the incident told police that while he didn't consider the action to be sexual in nature, he knew the victim wasn't pleased to be awakened in such a manner.

The next day, the report states the suspect jumped on the victim as he slept again, but this time he bounced on the victim "in a homosexual manner," according to the witness. That time, the victim woke up and threw the suspect to the floor.

A witness described the incident as "extremely odd and clearly sexual."

The Citadel issued the following statements to the Corps of Cadets last Friday:

In compliance with provisions of the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1990, The Citadel Public Safety Department is giving notice of recently received reports concerning a recent graduate. These reports allege that, while a cadet, the individual had inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with cadets. The circumstances of these assaults, which occurred 18 months or more ago, suggest that the assailant used his authority over the victims to get close to them.

The phenomenon of superior persons exercising their authority over their victims has been widely reported across the country. Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault, however, whether they are a freshman or upperclassman. In addition, men can assault men or women, and women can assault women or men.

In the cases recently reported, the alleged perpetrator is no longer a member of the Corps of Cadets, but could still attempt to contact students. To protect yourself, take care in selecting the people that you spend free time with. Use the buddy system while socializing - when you go out with friends, agree to keep an eye on one another and to return to school together.

The Citadel Public Safety Department urges anyone who believes they or a friend have been the victim of a sexual assault to immediately contact their local law enforcement agency. On-campus, PSAF can be reached at 3-5114. Victims of any form of sexual assault are encouraged to seek support with the Director, Cadet Advocacy, Response and Education (CARE) at 953-7277, or at the Counseling Center, 953-6799.

The Citadel also sent this message to faculty and staff the same day:

The college has issued a warning to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1990, in response to reports recently received regarding inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with cadets that occurred about 18 months ago. The reports involve a recent graduate who at the time was a cadet. The Clery Act requires the college to issue a warning based on the reports, before any investigation is complete.

The college notified cadets because, along with the importance of complying with the Clery Act, we cannot too often urge our students to be vigilant for themselves and others regarding behavior that threatens their welfare.

At this stage the investigation is ongoing and the college has contacted SLED requesting its assistance.