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Matthews won’t testify at CMA trial

Posted: June 20, 2013 4:51 p.m.
Updated: June 21, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Sheriff James Matthews and two Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) deputies will not testify in a trial about the alleged rape of a former cadet at Camden Military Academy (CMA).

Federal Judge Joe Anderson ruled Wednesday that Matthews and the deputies’ testimony “would be greatly disrupting.” However, it appears Anderson will allow the jury hearing the case to view at least one video of a previous alleged beating at CMA. The videos are among evidence revealed by Matthews after being asked by the now 18-year-old’s attorneys to locate any documents pertaining to the case. That included a “confidential” report taken in 2006 of the previous beating. The plaintiff, known only as “JBC,” was 13 years old in 2008 when he was allegedly beaten and raped during the several months he attended the academy.

CMA’s lawyers argued that allowing Matthews to testify would be unfair since his wife, Heather Hoopes-Matthews, has business ties to Nexsen Pruet, one of the law firms representing JBC. Another reason Anderson said he would not allow Matthews and the deputies to testify is that former KCSO Capt. David Thomley has apparently announced that he will run against Matthews in 2014.

Thomley lost to Matthews in the 2010 Republican primary.

Thomley reportedly was a paid CMA football coach while serving as the KCSO’s investigative captain and -- according to JBC’s lawyers -- kept incidents such as those alleged to have taken place 2006 and 2008 confidential.

Also testifying Wednesday were Dr. James Ballenger, a forensic psychiatrist from Charleston who interviewed JBC. Ballenger said JBC suffered from post traumatic stress disorder due to the beating and rape. Douglas Dickson, the headmaster of a private school in Austin, Texas, testified that CMA’s admissions requirements are below standards. He said the school does not require aptitude tests or transcripts of prior school records.

CMA’s attorneys attempted to counter Ballenger and Dickson’s testimonies by having them admit that they were paid for their testimony. Ballenger said he has been paid approximately $120,000 during the two years he has worked with JBC; Dickson said he has been paid about $13,000 to study CMA’s policies and records.

JBC’s parents testified earlier in the week. His father said he and his wife did not pick up their son during the five months he spent at CMA, saying they trusted school officials. He said his son told him he had been bullied repeatedly and had to pay another cadet $100 for protection. Both parents were emotional on the stand Monday, describing phone calls they had with their son and calls with administrators who, they said, did not tell them the truth about what happened at the school.

Thursday morning, JBC himself took the stand, describing the two sexual assaults he alleged were committed against him at CMA.

Those connected with the trial originally said it would last two weeks, which would have meant the jury would start deliberations today. Judge Anderson indicated it may last yet another week or even two.

--from news reports

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