CHARLESTON, S. C. — The NAACP filed an $800,000 federal lawsuit Thursday against the Citadel on behalf of former black cadet Kevin Nesmith, who charged that his civil rights were violated when he was harassed by five white cadets.
The suit said that "racial bigotry has historically been tolerated and sanctioned by officials at the Citadel." It said failure to expel the five cadets was "condoning students and/or staff to engage in racially discriminatory conduct."
The five white cadets, all juniors, dressed in sheets, towels and pillowcases similar to Ku Klux Klan costumes and burst into Nesmith's room while he slept on Oct. 23. They made obscene remarks and left behind a charred paper cross.
The five cadets were ordered to walk 195 hours of punishment, were lowered in rank and restricted to campus for the rest of the school year, except holidays.
Nesmith eventually resigned from the Citadel, citing harassment by fellow cadets at the state-supported military college amid publicity over the matter.
The suit alleges that the five cadets "intentionally" and "maliciously" caused Nesmith "severe emotional distress, mental anguish and pain."
Officials of the Citadel declined comment on the lawsuit.