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CMA lawsuit

Posted: April 3, 2012 9:55 a.m.
Updated: April 4, 2012 5:00 a.m.

There are many people in Kershaw County who are no doubt shocked by the recent lawsuit filed against Camden Military Academy, in which the parents of a former cadet say he was not only hazed and beaten but sodomized and raped. Those allegations are yet to play out in a courtroom, but we would caution against a rush to judgment in this case. CMA has not been proven guilty of anything, and in the American system of jurisprudence, lawsuits can be filed in a fast and furious manner, usually with no penalty -- monetary or otherwise -- against the plaintiffs who file them and their attorneys if they lose. That’s not to say the suit isn’t a valid one and that the allegations didn't occur. We don’t know whether the charges in it are true, false or somewhere in between. That's for the court to determine.

It is interesting that the sodomy and rape charges have been investigated by two different Kershaw County sheriffs, and no charges have been filed. Current Sheriff Jim Matthews says investigators for former Sheriff Steve McCaskill had looked into the matter without taking specific action, and it was still an open case when Matthews took office more than a year ago. He, too, has pursued it and hasn't filed charges. Matthews says the cadet accused of molestation in the suit passed a polygraph test, but he also says he understands the alleged victim did, too.

The suit, filed by the Georgia cadet's parents by four attorneys, one of them William Tetterton of Camden, also describes an extended period of time which passed between the time the former cadet says the rape occurred and the time he told his parents about it. The suit also doesn’t state that he told anyone at the academy about the attack. There are certainly cases of sexual assault in which victims don’t immediately come forward, but the time lag does indeed raise questions. There is no medical evidence contained in the suit. Perhaps this has something to do with the delay in reporting the alleged incident, but it seems that some medical authority might have been quoted in the action.

Once again, we don’t know how accurate the allegations are, and it might one day fall to a jury to make that determination. Until then, we hope people will keep an open mind.

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