Ten years passed and 35 victims piled up before someone stepped up to stop prolific child molester Louis “Skip” ReVille from continuing to harm young boys.
Ministers, school administrators and college officials could have stopped him, prosecutors say. Those officials had clues of his illicit misconduct, but they failed to act.
In the end, an alarmed mother, who had no real connection to ReVille, was the one who shined the light on his misdeeds, prosecutors said Wednesday when from Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
It all started when the mom overheard her child and his friend discussing something that just didn’t seem right, prosecutors say.
“The mother heard her son and a friend disclose that they had heard about ‘games’ ReVille was playing with boys,” said Assistant Solicitor Debbie Herring Lash in opening remarks at Wednesday’s hearing. “The mother (whose child was not a victim) went to a father of one of the victim’s and told him what she heard.”
That was on October 22, 2011. Parents then started asking questions while ReVille started scrambling.
that attempted to explain away what the children were describing, authorities say. He even promised to move out of state if they just didn’t go to police.
But within a week, ReVille was in jail and was confessing to the crimes. He eventually issued 60 written statements about his list of crimes.
In all, prosecutors got 23 victims to agree to take part in the criminal court case, but ReVille identified 35 victims. Many simply refused to take part in the case, prosecutors say.
Some of those victims sent letters to be read in court Wednesday. Identified only as John Doe, the victims and their families wrote about the intense feeling of betrayal left in the wake of the molestation allegations.
“We spoke to our son about the dangers in the world. He thought we were crazy,” one mother wrote, describing how careful her family had been to head off such abuse.
Parents and victims wrote about ReVille’s apparent devotion to God, and how they now feel it was all a ruse to gain access to their children.
“He often asked ‘How can I be praying for your son,’” one parent wrote. “You should have been praying that sexual predation would not come into his life. You were preying all right. You preyed on trusting young boys.”
One parent wrote that ReVille would email parents after weekly Bible study meetings to recap the Christian lessons that were discussed. Prosecutors, however, allege those Monday meet-ups often included group sexual encounters between ReVille and the young men.
Parents said they trusted ReVille because of his religion, his athletic abilities and because he was a graduate of the Citadel.
“He came into our lives with a cross around his neck and a Citadel ring on your finger, but to me, he doesn’t represent what either of these things stand for,” one mother wrote.
Parents say now they are worried about how their children will cope with the abuse. Many are in therapy, but the parents are all concerned about the alarming statistics that suggest abuse victims are likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, to commit suicide and to even go on to become abusers themselves.
“There is evil in this world and it is sitting in your courtroom,” wrote one parent.
One victim, now 25, spoke in person Wednesday. He walked into the packed Charleston courtroom with an intense scowl on his face and demanded that ReVille look at him while he spoke.
The victim, who did not disclose his name, met ReVille while attending a summer camp at the Citadel. ReVille was a cadet and camp counselor.
“I wanted to be him,” the victim said. “I had dreams to go to the Citadel myself. That was slaughtered. … I will never send my own son to summer camp, I will never trust him to be alone with another adult.”
That victim said he has been plagued by drug addiction and suicide attempts in the years since the abuse. He’s only recently admitted to anyone that he was involved in ReVille’s abuse.
“He’s a disease, a cancer to society,” the man said.
For his part, ReVille said he was sorry, and he accepted blame.
“I am sorry for what I’ve done,” said ReVille, hands and legs shackled, standing in a faded and frayed black-and-white jail jumpsuit. “I want to make it clear … that I am the only one responsible for my actions. I am the only one to blame.”
His lawyer asked for mercy from the judge, but made no specific argument for leniency. Attorney Craig Jones noted that ReVille had cooperated from the moment of his arrest, and that he provided the names of his victims to authorities.
He also noted that ReVille’s wife gave birth to three small triplets just weeks before his arrest, though Jones conceded that ReVille would never parent those children because of his sex-offender status.
A court-appointed sex therapist said ReVille in third grade had been drawn nude by a teacher. ReVille told the therapist, Dr. William Burke, that he found the experience gratifying because he was getting attention from an adult male figure.
Wolfe said ReVille could be treated for his sexual attraction to young men, if he was released from prison.
“There is no cure for any child molester,” Wolfe said. “There is treatment and containment.”
His victims, and even the judge, said ReVille’s fall from grace is all the more disappointing because he had amazing potential to help and guide youngsters.
“He could have been so much more,” the 25-year-old victim said in court. “He is brilliant. (His intelligence) could have made him so good at anything he did … and this is what he chose.”
That profound misuse of talent was not lost on Judge R. Barkley Dennis.
“You’re a man that had so much to offer,” Dennis said. “But you destroyed everything that’s real about this country.”
Dennis said at times he thought of imposing the maximum sentence on ReVille. He could have sent him away for up to 100 years, based on sentencing guidelines.
“Part of me would like to put you were you can’t possibly see daylight again,” Dennis said. “But that’s anger, and that’s also a perversion. You deserve better despite your perverse acts.”
But by no measure was Dennis’s sentence lenient. His 50-year jail term comes with requirements that he serve at least 85 percent before he can seek parole. He’ll be 74 when he gets that chance.
If a parole board grants him freedom — a prospect that prosecutors say is unlikely — he won’t just walk out of jail. He’ll enter a civil commitment program for violent sexual offenders that will require him to demonstrate he is no longer a danger to the public.
That will be a tough task, said Solicitor Wilson. Even if he does that, Dennis also tacked on another five years of supervised release.
No matter what, ReVille will also be a registered sex offender who never walks without an electronic monitoring system.
A CALL TO ACTION
Wilson said the case presents a larger lesson for the community.
“It’s an outrage that some that we have trusted, some of the people and organizations in our community have shirked their responsibility morally to do what was right,” Wilson said, referring to some who ignored early reports that ReVille was behaving inappropriately with young men.
Wilson said anyone with any report or sexual misconduct, no matter the level of proof or evidence, should report it to authorities. Law enforcement is trained, she said, to help solve cases and to help victims.
“Some had the audacity to say there was no case,” she said. “That’s what we are here for. We’re not the backwoods. There are resources to help people … and people were discouraged from using it. That’s the true shame.”