Ex-direc­tor speaks out

On social me­dia, Ge­orge Hop­kins de­nies sex al­le­ga­tions against him

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Hall

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.

MORN­ING CALL FILE PHOTO

Ge­orge Hop­kins was ac­cused by nine women in April.

TI­MOTHY DAR­RAGH/THE MORN­ING CALL

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.

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