Prosecutors set sights on former drum corps director George Hopkins
Former Allentown drum corps director George Hopkins, ousted last month amid allegations of sexual misconduct, is now the target of a criminal investigation, the Lehigh County District Attorney's office has confirmed.
Former Allentown drum corps director George Hopkins, ousted last month amid allegations of sexual misconduct, is now the target of a criminal investigation, the Lehigh County District Attorney's Office has confirmed.
Four of Hopkins' accusers said they had been in contact with prosecutors. One, Jess Beyer, accused Hopkins of raping her in his apartment in 2008, an allegation that falls within Pennsylvania's 12-year criminal statute of limitations for sexual assault.
"I can confirm that, yes, I've spoken with them," Beyer said. "But I'd prefer not to comment beyond that right now."
Matthew Falk, chief of prosecutions for the District Attorney's Office, confirmed that the office is investigating Hopkins but declined to comment further.
The scandal has rocked the world of drum corps, a marching band activity participated in by thousands of teens and young adults each year and one in which Hopkins was a fixture for four decades. Hopkins, who led the Cadets drum corps to 10 national titles in his 36 years at the helm, could not be reached for comment. His cellphone has recently been disconnected.
In total, 11 women have accused him of sexual harassment or assault. Their stories span from 1980 to as recently as a few years ago. All are former members of the Cadets or employees of Youth Education in the Arts, the nonprofit that owns the corps.
Beyer, now a 33-year-old mother from Drexel Hill, marched with the Cadets in 2006 and was hired by Hopkins the following year. Then known by her maiden name, Jessica Wilson, Beyer said Hopkins often made her uncomfortable, sometimes sending late-night texts propositioning her for sex, and once kissing her abruptly after an outing with other colleagues.
In spring 2008, she said, Hopkins asked her to come to his apartment to help with a work-related project. When she arrived, Beyer said, Hopkins began undressing her. Despite Beyer's request that he stop, Hopkins took her to his bedroom, where he forced her to perform oral sex on him and then performed oral sex on her, she said. He said little when he finished.
"I just got my clothes and got dressed and went home," Beyer said. "And I got in the shower until I ran out of hot water. I brushed and flossed my teeth about 20 times. And then I just got in bed and cried."
The three other women who have been in contact with the prosecutors are Kim Carter, who marched with the Cadets in 1987 and was hired by Hopkins in 2006, and twin sisters Linda and Lee Ann Riley, members of the corps in the early 1980s. Carter confirmed that she has spoken with Falk but declined to elaborate. Lee Ann Riley said she planned to meet with a detective from the office next week, while Linda Riley was interviewed earlier this month.
Both sisters say Hopkins had sex with them without their consent, Lee Ann Riley when she was 17 and Linda Riley when she was 19. Linda Riley said though her allegations fall outside the statute of limitations for criminal charges, she thinks her story can help prosecutors "develop a pattern" of predatory behavior by Hopkins.
She said she would welcome the chance to be a part of a case against Hopkins. After years of silence, she said, she's ready to speak.
"What I was afraid of was telling the story. But I told the story now," she said. "So there's nothing to be afraid of."