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Cadets’ Excuse From Duty May Have Sparked Attack

The two Citadel female cadets who say they were hazed may have been targeted because they had been excused from military duty and physical training, the school’s interim president said Wednesday.

“It is probably not unusual that for any group of men in a stressed environment … to resent those who are in the environment who are not being required to perform,” Maj. Gen. R. Clifton Poole said.

Kim Messer and Jeanie Mentavlos were allowed not to participate in the the school’s harsh physical regimen because the constant marching had given them pelvic stress fractures.

The other two female cadets have reported no problems, Poole said.

Both women have been staying off-campus while finishing their exams, and haven’t decided whether to return to the formerly all-male military academy after the holidays, said Mentavlos’ lawyer, Tim Kulp.

Poole said the campus is safe and that he hopes the two cadets will rejoin the cadet corps in January.

“I didn’t put them out of the corps. I don’t want them out of the corps,” Poole said. “Matter of fact, I wish they were here - I really do.”

Their lawyers say the two had nail polish remover poured on them and their clothing set on fire not once but three times in the last two months. They also were shoved with rifles and forced to drink alcohol, they said.

Poole said the women never discussed their allegations with commanders or active-duty officers assigned to their company.

Kulp, however, said Mentavlos filled out a written statement that was given to her superior cadet officers when she first encountered behavior she thought crossed the line, and her complaint was not acted on.

Two male cadets have been suspended and five of the women’s cadet officers have been relieved of their command duties.

One of the suspended cadets is restricted to class, the cafeteria, the hospital and the chapel, Poole said. The other cadet is no longer on campus. Their names were not released.

The FBI, Justice Department and state Law Enforcement Division are investigating. A final report is not expected until next month.