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Ex-Female Cadet Sues The Citadel Claiming Sexual Harassment By Male Cadets

A former female Citadel cadet sued the school Monday, saying she was sexually harassed by male cadets who humiliated her with taunts, attacks and altered photos that were distributed on the Internet.

“I’m seeking justice. The major goal here is to make sure that it doesn’t happen to anybody else.” Jeanie Mentavlos said. She alleges federal civil rights violations.

“I can honestly say there is nothing I miss about that school,” said the Charlotte, N.C., woman who now attends Queens College there.

Mentavlos also sued The Citadel’s governing board, the officer who oversaw the barracks where she was assigned, and five male cadets who were in Echo Company with her. The school had no comment and the others either would not comment or could not be reached.

Mentavlos’ lawyer, Dick Harpootlian, would not say what she seeks in damages.

“We think she lost a year of her life. What’s that worth?” he said.

Mentavlos and Kim Messer quit the state military school in January, saying they were hazed and harassed, including having their clothes set afire. Two other women who enrolled at the same time did not report any problems and are now sophomores at The Citadel.

Twenty women enrolled this year. Two dropped out, along with 42 male cadets. No woman reported hazing.

The school first voluntarily accepted women last year after Virginia Military Institute’s all-male policy was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Citadel’s first woman cadet, Shannon Faulkner, entered the school in 1995, but left after a week, citing stress and isolation.

The suit says Mentavlos suffered “insults, indignities, physical assault and humiliating treatment which went far beyond any need to toughen, strengthen or acclimate plaintiff to the rigors of military discipline.”

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