Bourbon lawsuit alleges sexual abuse at U.S. Army Cadet Corps campus

jwarren@herald-leader.comMarch 14, 2013 

A Pendleton County mother filed a lawsuit saying her son and daughter were sexually molested while attending summer camps at the U.S. Army Cadet Corps campus at Millersburg.

The suit describes two separate cases of alleged abuse, starting in 2010. It alleges sexual advances by a camp instructor against the son, and misconduct against the girl by a fellow cadet.

The mother says in the suit that her son was so upset by the experience that he twice attempted suicide to avoid returning to summer camp. Her daughter also made suicidal statements and was hospitalized for observation, the lawsuit says.

The boy was 16 and girl 15 when they began attending summer camp at Millersburg, according to the lawsuit.

The Herald-Leader typically does not reveal the names of people in sexual abuse cases such as this.

The suit, filed March 5 in Bourbon Circuit Court, alleges negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision by the corps. It seeks unspecified damages and demands a jury trial.

Eric Deters, lead attorney for the plaintiff, said Thursday that he understands that the woman has talked with prosecutors in Bourbon County.

Kentucky State Police have opened an investigation, but a spokesman declined to provide details.

The cadet corps said in a statement that no "current staff member" is under investigation, and no criminal charges have been filed against "the corps or any person with current or past affiliation with the corps."

The US Army Cadet Corps is a 104-year-old private, non-profit organization that operates a national, military style educational program for boys and girls ages 12 to 18. The organization, which is not part of the U.S. Army, holds annual summer camps designed to provide cadets with military-style training and discipline.

The corps moved to Millersburg after buying the campus of the town's defunct military institute in 2008. It launched a new school, the Forest Hill Military Academy, there last August.

The plaintiff says in the lawsuit that a camp instructor at Millersburg invited her son to his private room three times in spring 2011, fondled him and offered "special privileges in exchange for reciprocating sexual favors." The instructor also punished the boy when he didn't accept sexual advances, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says the daughter endured sexual misconduct, including groping and grabbing by a fellow cadet, during the 2010 summer camp.

When this was reported to the corps staff, "no punishment or preventative steps occurred," the lawsuit says. It also says that when the daughter reported another incident in October 2011, she was "called a liar," and the staff "pressured" her not to file a police report.

The mother learned about the alleged abuse in May 2012 after her son attempted suicide by slicing his wrists to avoid going back to camp that summer, according to Barrett Freeman, one of the attorneys handling the lawsuit. The daughter told her mother about the incident a month later after she was placed under observation for making suicidal statements, the lawsuit says.

Joseph Land, the acting commander, said in the statement that corps policies preclude "any adult from being unaccompanied with a child at any time." Corps volunteers and employees receive background checks, and "no individual with a history of any sexually-oriented offense is permitted to serve in the corps under any circumstances," Land said in the statement.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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