A former cadet at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville is suing the school in federal court, claiming he was raped and assaulted by other students and the school did not do enough to protect him. And, newly-released records from Gainesville Police indicate he wasn't the only student to claim he was abused at Riverside.
The former cadet said the abuse started in 2012, when he was 12 years old, according to court documents. The alleged victim, now 18, said he was sexually assaulted and beaten by other cadets on campus. He accused the school of failing to intervene or tell police about his complaints, and claimed he dropped out of Riverside after one year, just to make it stop.
According to Gainesville Police, there are no records of abuse detailed in that lawsuit.
However, over 200 pages of police records show a pattern of police response to the century-old military school, dating back at least six years.
Since 2012, police have been called to the academy 21 times to investigate major and minor crimes at the school, which houses 500 students in grades seven through 12. Eight of those cases were assaults – including two reports of sexual abuse in 2016 and 2017.
In one case, a 17-year-old was arrested for having “inappropriate sexual contact with another cadet,” according to Sgt. Kevin Holbrook with the Gainesville Police Department.
Another investigation into alleged sexual assault in 2017 resulted in dropped charges.
"The victim and/or the guardians decided they did not wish to prosecute the case or did not wish to take the case any further," Holbrook said.
In 2013, officers arrested a cadet and charged him with battery after reportedly violently attacking a cadet, stating that "he punched and used his knee to break two teeth on the victim," according to police.
Last year, a 17-year-old cadet burst into a commander’s office and violently attacked the commandant and threatened to kill him. Police said the cadet was angry that his phone was confiscated, but the commandant declined to press charges.
Riverside Military School has not commented on the allegations and school attorneys have not filed their response disputing the former cadet’s lawsuit claiming sexual abuse on campus.