Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pedophiles and Politicians

Who is the greater threat to our children?

By Will Moredock

There is never a good time to be dragged into a child sex abuse scandal, but The Citadel's timing could not be worse.

Dealing with the fallout from Louis ReVille's recent arrest would have been difficult enough. Local law enforcement agencies have charged ReVille with multiple counts of improper sexual contact with juvenile males. ReVille has worked in church and school athletic programs around the Lowcountry for more than a decade. One of his employers was The Citadel summer camp, from 2000 to 2004.

Now it develops that, in 2007, a former Citadel camper complained to school administrators that ReVille had lured him into an improper relationship in the summer of 2002, when Reville was a counselor there.

Worse yet, The Citadel – which is proud of its honor code, its character-building environment, its intolerance of dishonest and dishonorable behavior –  this proud old military college did not go to the police with their information. No, it dispatched its chief attorney to Dallas, where he took a 157-page statement from the former camper and – according to the Post and Courier – started planning a strategy to run out the statute of limitations on ReVille's alleged crimes.

But the young accuser, whose identity remains confidential, was apparently not trying to make a civil or criminal case in the matter. As the P&C reported, the former camper told the attorney he had only one purpose in bringing his complaint: “Most of all, the thing I want most is just to make sure he  doesn't have a chance to do this to anyone else.”

As we now know, his simple request was ignored. ReVille has been charged with five counts of child sex abuse and more charges are probably forthcoming from multiple jurisdictions. The attorney's report apparently went into a file cabinet somewhere and was forgotten – until two weeks ago. How many people in The Citadel administration knew of the report? President John Rosa said he was aware of it, but never read it. Hmmmm.

Unfortunately for The Citadel, four news cycles ahead and 750 miles away, in College Park, Pa., a very similar scenario was playing out at Penn State University. As the world now knows, former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been charged with multiple counts of sex abuse against young boys in the football team showers and locker room! It had apparently been going on for years.

In this case, at least two university employees observed the behavior and reported it to superiors. What did the superiors do about it? Well, they didn't go to the authorities, as they should have. Two weeks ago, the story broke and a proud old public university was plunged into an epic  scandal.

But the PSU board of trustees knew their responsibility. They acted swiftly, firing the athletic director, a university vice president and the president and – to the amazement of all the civilized world – they fired Penn State legend and icon Joe Paterno, the winningest college football coach in history, two days before what was to be his last home game.

The message could not be clearer and if Penn State's righteous action is to be considered the standard for dealing with child sex abuse, then John Rosa and other Citadel officers have much to fear.

At moments like these, we can expect the pompous and the pontifical to cry out against the pedophiles. Indeed, it is easy to denounce those monsters who haunt every parent's dreams. But where are these heroes, where are these guardians of virtue and innocence in the day-to-day governance of our state, in day-to-day advocacy and policy-making?

Numbers don't lie and the numbers from the annual Kids Count survey show that S.C. is the sixth-worst state in the nation to be a child. We rank fifth in child poverty. We are next to last in high school graduation rates. Perhaps one reason for this is that we have the 19th lowest level of expenditure per student in our public schools, at $10,051. We are fifth-highest in infant mortality, fourth-highest in premature births, with the 11th-highest rate of births to teenage mothers.

The GOP's love affair with the fetus is legendary, as is the fact that its passion instantly cools when the fetus emerges to become a breathing child. Children, unlike fetuses, require services and resources which GOPers are loath to provide – things like education, healtcare, nutrition. The Republican passion for these unfortunates begins to warm once more as they approach voting age.

Budgets are about choices, about the things we value. South Carolina's budgets and choices suggest that we do not care about our children. We do not care about their health or safety or education. It's much easier to lock up a pedophile and say we've done all we should for our children.

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