Chances Missed to Stop ReVille
Officials here missed opportunities to stop a molester in its midst, victims’ advocates say.
Louis “Skip” Reville’s list of sex-abuse victims numbers nearly a dozen now, and still more criminal child sex-abuse charges could be coming, police said.
Looking back, and similar to the growing concerns at Penn State University, there were telltale signs of ReVille’s interest in young boys and, according to one victims’ advocate, missed chances to stop him before the number of his victims grew.
In 2007, Citadel officials say a former summer camper came forward and accused ReVille of illicit sexual conduct in 2002, when ReVille was a cadet. Reported five years after the fact, the school investigated the claims but did not tell police.
Finding no proof on its own, the college didn’t press the matter beyond its own internal investigation, according to a statement released by school officials over the weekend.
While teaching at Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville, some parents and teachers were concerned with the amount of time ReVille spent with young boys, but no one said anything to future employers, according to the Post and Courier. The school denies there was improper conduct.
Those incidents and tendencies should have been red flags, said Cindy McElhinney, program director at Darkness To Light, a Charleston sexual abuse prevention agency.
“In the ReVille case, there were missed opportunities to stop him,” McElhinney said. “If people would have acted on feelings that certain behaviors just weren’t right, we could have better protected children."
Instead, like in other high-profile abuse cases, officials thought about the negative attention that would be created by a sex-abuse case, and that forced them into silence.
“People are afraid of their image, their reputation being harmed,” McElhinney said. “Too often, these cases get swept under the rug.”
ReVille’s case has similarities with the decades of Catholic priest sex abuse and the ongoing Penn State case where higher ups knew of the abuse but did not call police. Like those cases, failing to act allowed ReVille’s victims to pile up, advocates said.
“People need to err on the side of the child,” said Judy Jones, a regional director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “An adult who might be wrongly accused can re-establish their name. A victim of sex abuse will have their lives ruined forever.”
CALL THE POLICE
Over the weekend, the Citadel expressed regret for not reporting the sex-abuse allegations. They said ReVille fiercely denied the allegations, and aside from that one complaint, he had a stellar record.
“We regret that we did not pursue this matter further,” said Citadel President Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa and Doug Snyder, chairman of The Citadel Board of Visitors. “The Citadel family is deeply saddened that one of its alumni has committed, by his own admission, acts that betray the principles and values for which the college stands.”
But advocates say abuse reports should always been forwarded to police, though the law only requires certain people to make the report.
“In South Carolina, there are only a few people who are considered ‘mandated reporters’ who must report reasonable suspicions to police,” McElhinney said. “South Carolina is a not a state that requires everyone to report, but we’re hopeful that could soon change.”
High-profile cases such as Reville’s and the Penn State controversy have raised awareness, McElhinney said, and that could make it easier to pass legislation requiring everyone to report suspected sex abuse.
On Monday, State Rep. Chip Limehouse said he will author legislation to make everyone a mandated reporter by law.
“If you have a reasonable suspicion, report it to the police,” McElhinney said. “Schools and churches shouldn’t feel obligated to prove an allegation.”
Just a police investigation, even if officers can’t bring charges, could scare abusers into admitting to the crime or perhaps deter further abuse.
Charleston police declined to comment on the ReVille case and if officers would have preferred the Citadel to report the 2007 allegation. Mount Pleasant police didn't reply to a request for comment on the Citadel statement.
But October, ReVille reportedly admitted to Mount Pleasant police that he molested at least five boys when confronted.
Reached this week at the couple's Lohr Drive home, ReVille's wife declined to comment on the case. The couple gave birth to triplets just weeks before his arrest. She referred reporter questions to ReVille's criminal defense attorney.
Previously, attorney Craig Jones said ReVille is "remorseful" and cooperating is a small way to make up for the harm he's caused.
When an abuse allegation arises, it's best to just call the police, Judy Jones said.
“The best thing they can do is call the police and let the officers figure it out,” said Jones, who got involved with SNAP after her brother accused their parish priest of sex abuse. “People get it backwards. Their institution will gain prestige if they do the right thing by calling police and protecting kids.”
POLICIES TO SPOT ABUSERS
Skip ReVille was reportedly fond of gathering with teen boys outside of school and church. His Facebook page, before it was deleted after his arrest, contained photos of him on camping trips with youngsters.
His teaching and coaching jobs all over the tri-county area gave him access to hundreds of youngsters, Mount Pleasant police said, and at times he asked them to his house and met with them for Bible study at various restaurants.
McElhinney said there’s nothing wrong with helping kids, but most professionals know that one-on-one contact is not appropriate. It should be avoided – even if it’s just for the sake of appearance, she said.
And to others, it should be a big red flag, McElhinney said. Schools and churches should outright forbid that sort of contact.
“Abusers search for ways to have outside contact with kids,” McElhinney said. “The best way to prevent abuse is to have good policies for how adults should behave, and if you violate the policy, you’re out.”
Pinewood Preparatory denied any suggestion that ReVille was involved in any illicit conduct while working at the school.
School spokeswoman Kristen McMullen declined to say why ReVille left the school in 2006, but said the school might release his reasoning or letter of resignation in the future.
ReVille popped up at countless youth-sports events and programs. Now, it seems motivation was sinister, said Mount Pleasant Recreation Department Director Ken Ayoub. The 32-year-old private school principal coached in various athletic programs, was a personal trainer, led Bible studies and worked at a handful of schools. He also was a foster parent.
Reports also indicate that Reville even volunteered to work for free as an administrator at Coastal Christian Preparatory School before being brought on full-time.
Police said he reached hundreds of children over the last decade, and he performed sex acts on at least three of his victims while in his car on various roads around Mount Pleasant as well as at his Lohr Drive home, according to arrest warrants.
Had one-on-one contact been against the rules, it could have been easier to stop ReVille from harming more children, advocates said.
“Identifying an abuser can start by identifying someone who breaks the rules,” McElhinney said.
Because ReVille slipped through the cracks, his list of victims grew. Mount Pleasant police have said he engaged in sexual conduct with five boys on more than 50 occasions.
Hanahan police are expected to bring six charges of sex abuse stemming from a time period when ReVille lived in Berkeley County. He reportedly provided written statements that led to those latest charges, according to the Post and Courier.
It’s not clear how many victims will come from the Hanahan charges, but advocates said some victims may never come forward.
“In the case of priest abuse, we know of predators who went through hundreds of victims,” Jones said. “If you just imagine one or two victims a year, it unfortunately adds up.”
The stigma keeps many silent, she said.
In Mount Pleasant, promising anonymity was apparently necessary in getting victims to come forward.
When a court clerk released warrants containing the victims’ last names, law enforcement and the victims’ attorney scrambled to prevent the release, even though it’s public record.
“We commend the families for having the strength and the courage to come forward with their stories. We also want to caution anyone against talking about the names or identities of any of Coach ReVille’s victims,” wrote attorney Mullins McLeod in a statement to local media.
“It is against the law to reveal the name of anyone who has been the victim of criminal sexual conduct.”
“Our phones have been buzzing constantly,” said Jones, who is based in Missouri. “People are calling with reports from all over, not specifically related to any of the big cases.”
If any good comes out of these cases, it could be that more abusers are stopped and that others take notice of what they can do to prevent more abuse.
“A lot of people are calling, wanting to know what they can do at their organization,” McElhinney said. “If there is any slight positive that comes with these cases, it’s that people are taking notice.”
Patch editor Lindsay Street contributed to this story.