What was supposed to be a fun trip to summer camp turned into a nightmare for Dylan Walker, 9 years old in 2008. Camp Bob Cooper, an affiliate of Clemson University, offers “warm southern weather, a rustic yet beautiful setting, and a complete range of modern amenities,” on the shores of South Carolina’s Lake Marion. What it also offered, Walker soon found out, was an unwanted lesson in physical abuse and assault.
According to a lawsuit filed by Walker’s family along with the family of another youth camper, the children were attacked by a 17-year-old volunteer counselor named Ronald Edward Riley. Riley choked Walker and three other children, the lawsuit claimed, stating it was a game.
It took the jury only minutes to decide on a $1 million verdict against Riley, the camp and the federal program Operation: Military Kids that ran the program. Riley is also facing criminal charges of assault and battery and child neglect.