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CMA verdict

Posted: July 3, 2013 9:49 a.m.
Updated: July 5, 2013 5:00 a.m.

A civil jury didn’t take long this week to find in favor of Camden Military Academy officials who had been sued for allegedly fostering an atmosphere of bullying which the plaintiff claimed led to a sexual assault in 2008. Given the extended nature of the trial and the serious accusations, the quick verdict obviously proved that jurors gave little credence to the claims. The testimony was at times sordid and no doubt painful for the three CMA officials who had been named -- Col. Eric Boland, headmaster; Lt. Col. Pat Armstrong, commandant of cadets; and Command Sgt. Major Vertis Wilder.

When there is inflammatory testimony during a trial, as is often the case in civil lawsuits such as this, it’s easy for those reading accounts to come to quick conclusions. But the jurors’ dismissal of the charges was evidence that there are two sides to every story, as the Chronicle-Independent had cautioned months ago. And the trial also brought a reminder that expert witnesses, especially when they have been paid large sums of money for their testimony, don’t always carry a lot of credence; such was the case with a psychiatrist who testified that inconsistencies in the plaintiff’s story were a result of post traumatic stress disorder.

CMA has a long history in Camden, going back to its establishment in the 1950s under the command of Col. Lanning Risher, who still resides here. It has been a non-profit institution since Risher converted it from private ownership to that status in 1974. Over those years, the academy has been an integral part of the community. We join many others who no doubt are relieved and satisfied that the charges against the school and its officials have been found to be without basis.


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