As in many other industries, #TimesUp for marching bands and drum corps when it comes to sexual misconduct.
In early April, an investigative report by The Philadelphia Inquirer detailed the stories of nine women accusing George Hopkins, then CEO of Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) and longtime director of The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, of sexual misconduct. This alleged pattern of offensive behavior, ranging from groping to rape, spanned four decades. The victims varied from ages 16 to 32 at the time of abuse.
Following the article’s release, Hopkins resigned. YEA! announced that Sean King would step up as interim CEO. King and the YEA! board released an initial statement that seemed to criticize the victims for being uncooperative in the internal investigation. Amid public outrage and more victims coming forward to the Inquirer, the entire board then resigned. A new board was quickly put in place and announced that it would work with RAINN, a national anti-sexual violence organization, “to develop long-term policies, procedures, training, and best practices.”
Shortly afterward, King was placed on suspension after reports surfaced that he had knowledge of Hopkins’ misconduct and ignored it.
YEA! hired law firm Franczek Radelet to conduct an independent investigation into the abuse allegations; the firm will also operate a reporting hotline, (312) 786-6540, to gather any additional information.
Scott Litzenberg has been appointed corps director for The Cadets.
Drum Corps International (DCI) announced that The Cadets would be placed on probation until demonstrating organizational measures to prevent future abuse. DCI will also enact a new set of safety policies.
The University of Pennsylvania canceled upcoming event partnerships with The Cadets for this summer. The corps itself canceled the West Coast portion of its summer tour.
“YEA!’s top priority is to ensure an environment that is safe for all members, staff and individuals involved with the organization, and that everyone has a clear avenue for grievances,” stated Doug Rutherford, chairman of the new YEA! board, in a press release.