Civil suit alleges brutal beatings, rape at Camden Military Academy
CAMDEN, SC (WIS) - A federal civil trial is pitting the Camden Military Academy against the parents of a former cadet.
Top officials at the school are being questioned about what goes on behind closed doors. It's a trial bringing high drama in the courtroom and the school's reputation on the line.
CMA is a school just for boys in grades 7 to 12. Teachers emphasize self-confidence and leadership.
But in a Columbia courtroom this week, attorneys representing the former cadet have painted a different picture
The former cadet alleges brutal beatings, sodomy, and rape all at the hands of fellow cadets. He also accuses academy officials of cultivating a culture of secrecy.
In this complaint filed in US District court, a Georgia couple accuses the school of allowing the hazing and sexual assault of their 13-year-old son when he enrolled nearly 5 years ago.
The academy is listed as defendants along with a list of the school's employees and the former headmaster.
The complaint states in a matter of days after the boy arrived at the academy, "he began to face a continuous barrage of physical abuse at CMA. Cadets repeatedly beat the boy in his face, body, and testicles. CMA cadets placed a plastic bag over his head and tried to suffocate him. And most horribly, two cadets sodomized him and one cadet brutally raped him."
When the boy tried to contact his parents back in Georgia, his requests were repeatedly denied by academy employees with some of his actions passed off as being "homesick."
The lawsuit says school officials condoned hazing, ignored injuries, and downplayed complaints about his treatment.
The boy's parents eventually pulled their son out of the academy, and as soon as they passed over the South Carolina-Georgia border, the boy began to open up even more about what he says happened to him at the academy.
The academy's headmaster, Eric Boland took the stand and denied the school condones hazing.
As for the reported sexual assault, Sheriff Jim Matthews says no charges were filed following an investigation. Matthews was not sheriff in 2008, but told Atlanta TV station WSB last year that he helped revive the case once he became sheriff.
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