George Hopkins has been a celebrated leader of The Cadets, an award-winning Pennsylvania-based drum and bugle corps for many years. Now, Hopkins is resigning amid allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse dating back nearly 40 years.
According to multiple media accounts, up to nine women have individually accused Hopkins of abuse and harassment. He has categorically denied any wrongdoing. The nonprofit education organization that managed The Cadets, Youth Education in the Arts, called the allegations “a painful moment for all those who care about The Cadets.”
Meanwhile, some media outlets are reporting that the harassment and abuse may have included “groping” and “rape”. The reported victims’ ages at the time of the alleged incidents ranged from 16 to 37. At least three of the accusers were Cadets, while five worked for YEA.
The allegations bring much unwanted attention to a group that has been a standout in its industry, winning attention from aspiring drum and bugle corps members from across the country and around the world. Previous iterations of The Cadets performed for President Obama, during his first inaugural parade, as well as at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Hopkins was hired in 1979 and promoted to director in 1982. Since then, for more than three decades, he has been the steady hand and unflinching leader of the creative performance team that has won 10 world titles in their discipline. Now, though, that legacy has been tarnished by these numerous allegations.
And it’s not the first-time negative news has filtered out about Hopkins. He has been accused of being ‘verbally abusive’ at the office and sometimes difficult to work for, accusations that have resurfaced since the abuse allegations were made public.
One of the allegations getting the most attention is that being made by former Cadet Lee Ann Riley, who said Hopkins raped her when she was 17 years old. Recalling the incident, Riley said she cried: “There were some tears… He asked ‘Are you all right?’ … I felt so used.”
Riley’s twin sister, Linda Riley, herself a Cadet, accused Hopkins of raping her when she was 19. Nearly 40 years ago, and the woman say the memory has not faded. Linda recalls feeling cornered: “I felt pressured… This was our director…”
Hopkins has denied “any non consensual relations” with either Riley sister, and says he never had any sexual interactions with Lee Ann when she was under age. Now, though, other women have come forward with similar stories. It’s a pattern that has become very familiar in recent months, as the #MeToo movement continues to gain steam.
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