Sean King Suspended by YEA; DCI Puts Cadets on Probation; YEA Hires Law Firm

Over the weekend, interim CEO of Youth Education in the Arts (YEA) and The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps Sean King was suspended after accusations surfaced regarding his knowledge of the sexual assault and harassment allegedly committed by former executive director George Hopkins.

The initial investigation released last week contained the accusations of nine women, with two additional women coming forward on Thursday. One of the two recent accusers told the Philadelphia Inquirer that when she turned to King for help, he dismissed her, saying “that’s just how George is.”

King issued a statement in response: “I never received an allegation. Ever. Had someone brought that to me, I would have reported it.” The newly appointed board of directors will manage the governance and operations until completing the investigation into King.

On Friday, Drum Corps International posted on its website that all YEA performing groups will be on probation for summer participation until the organization can show a comprehensive new plan for the prevention and reporting of sexual assault and harassment, hires an independent compliance officer, and present a financial accountability plan to ensure they can complete the summer tour.

Also, a drum corps fan provided to the newspaper his message board posts from 2003 claiming he directly contacted DCI CEO Dan Acheson about Hopkins, but was ignored for not having sufficient evidence. Acheson denies any memory of the conversation.

On Monday morning, YEA announced the hiring of Chicago-based law firm Franczek Radelet to complete a comprehensive and independent evaluation of the allegations and the entire organization. Read the statement below:

 

The newly-constituted board of directors of Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) has retained the Chicago law firm of Franczek Radelet to conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of the entire YEA! organization in the wake of recent allegations centered on sexual misconduct and workplace harassment.

Franczek Radelet is among the premier labor, employment and education practices in the country. Jennifer Smith, a partner in the Education Law Practice Group at the firm, is leading the investigation.
According to YEA! board chairman Doug Rutherford, Franczek Radelet is conducting a comprehensive review of the organization’s records, with particular attention being given to current complaints, as well as its practices, policies and procedures pertaining to sexual and workplace harassment. The firm is being asked to provide actionable, remedial steps to be taken by the YEA! board, to ensure that YEA! is free of sexual and workplace harassment, and that the organization:
  • Has a clear explanation of prohibited conduct
  • Has made assurances that employees who make complaints of harassment or provide information related to such complaints will be protected against retaliation
  • Has a clearly described complaint process that provides accessible avenues of complaint
  • Will protect the confidentiality of harassment complaints to the extent possible
  • Has a complaint process that provides a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation
  • Is taking Interim measures during the investigation, where warranted.
  • Will take immediate and appropriate corrective action when it determines that harassment has occurred
Everyone involved in YEA! programs has a fundamental right to an environment free from sexual harassment. The YEA! board of directors has a fiduciary duty to stop sexual and workplace harassment before it occurs, and to take prompt remedial action upon learning of harassment allegations.
According to Mr. Rutherford, “The new YEA! board of directors is deeply committed to an organization that demonstrates mutual respect for all our participants and employees and is free from sexual and workplace harassment. We are working closely with Jennifer Smith and Franczek Radelet to learn from their independent findings, and to adopt a robust anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure that not only earns our organization a clean bill of health, but also rebuilds the trust and respect of the entire band, drum corps and Allentown communities.”