Ex-director speaks out
On social media, George Hopkins denies sex allegations against him
George Hopkins, the former director of the Allentown Cadets drum and bugle corps charged with sexually assaulting two women and accused of sexual misconduct by nine others, called the claims an “orchestrated smear” by those who disagreed with his management, in an online post Thursday.
In 12 paragraphs posted to the online publishing platform Medium.com, Hopkins called the accusations untrue and said he’s sat by silently listening as others assassinated his character. Hopkins said when he reads what people write about him in chat rooms and the news, he assumes it must be about someone else.
“They couldn’t be talking about me because this George Hopkins has never done any of the things that they said,” Hopkins wrote.
“I’ve been living a nightmare because of these attacks and I cannot simply be quiet any longer,” Hopkins said, adding that he hoped to tell his side of the story for those “interested in hearing both sides.”
Hopkins was accused of sexual assault and harassment by nine women in an article published in April in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The women ranged in age from 16 to 37 at the time of the alleged incidents,
“I’ve been living a nightmare because of these attacks and I cannot simply be quiet any longer.” — George Hopkins, former director, Allentown Cadets
which dated to 1980.
The Lehigh County district attorney's office confirmed it was investigating allegations against Hopkins the following month and in November filed two sexual assault charges against him.
Prosecutors allege Hopkins, 62, of Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, assaulted an employee of the Cadets' parent organization in 2008 in his home on the 4100 block of Primrose Drive in Allentown. The woman said after she had a glass of wine, she began to feel like she was "floating on the ceiling, " the complaint said. She told investigators she was unable to resist Hopkins as he undressed her, although she repeatedly told him, “No.”
A second woman employed by another drum corps alleged Hopkins assaulted her in 2010 after they had drinks at a bar, the complaint said. After they went to Hopkins' apartment on the 200 block of North Third Street in Allentown, he ripped her shirt open and carried her over his shoulder to his bedroom, where he allegedly had sexual intercourse with her, it said. She also claimed to be unable to resist and to have said, “No,” repeatedly.
Hopkins, who also served as CEO of the Cadets' parent organization, Youth Education in the Arts, said he has received messages of support from friends and fans but added that others are afraid to come forward in “such an attack prone atmosphere.”
“This entire series of attacks are the result of a small group of Cadets' alumni having a vendetta against me because I did not run the drum corps the way they may have preferred,” Hopkins said, adding that some have worked for years to get him fired while others joined the effort more recently.
Hopkins' attorney, Thomas Bergstrom of Philadelphia, on Friday confirmed the post was written by Hopkins and said he discussed it briefly with his client. Hopkins told Bergstrom he needed to vent, the attorney said.
“There was a whole host of social media that was making wild accusations, dangerous accusations, untruthful accusations,” Bergstrom said.
Bergstrom did not discount Hopkins' assertion that the case against him is fueled by tensions among former members of the group.
“I'm going to follow the facts, and I think some of the facts in this case would support that there was a vendetta out for him for reasons known only to the people who were involved in the YEA program,” Bergstrom said. “The facts will be brought out in a courtroom.”
After The Inquirer story broke, Hopkins, who led the Cadets for decades, resigned. The YEA's board and executive director also resigned. The new board said Hopkins was fired, since he never submitted a letter of resignation. Hopkins sued the organization over that dispute and other issues.
Doug Rutherford, chairman of the YEA board, declined to address Hopkins' comments but said the organization remains focused on providing safe and financially sound programs, and that YEA is an excellent place to work and volunteer.
Kimberly Carter, a former youth member of the Cadets who returned to work for the organization as an adult, dismissed Hopkins' assertion that he is a victim.
“That's not the case at all, whatsoever,” said Carter, who was involved in a sexual relationship with Hopkins she described as a quid pro quo tied to her job at YEA.
“If those are the type of allegations he's claiming, I will let it play out in the court,” Carter said.
When The Morning Call reported Carter's allegations in April, Hopkins did not return a reporter's calls. Until Thursday, Hopkins had denied the allegations against him through attorneys but hadn't addressed them directly.
In his online post, Hopkins acknowledged that he was “a tough person to work with at times, but denied the accusations, calling them consensual acts or denying that they happened.
“My passion for my work spilled out into the way I treated some people, and obviously in reflection I am sorry that was the case. But make no mistake, I have never acted inappropriately with a woman,” Hopkins wrote.
George Hopkins was accused by nine women in April.
Kimberly Carter of Warrington, Bucks County, the former head of Youth Education in the Arts and the Allentown Cadets, disputed George Hopkins’ claim that he’s a victim of false allegations.