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Lehigh Valley

Bernard Kenneth Schade heading to trial

Former director of boys choir accused of sexual assault

MIDDLE SMITHFIELD TWP., Pa. - He was the leader of a boys choir, and a professor of music.

Now, Dr. Kenneth Schade is heading to trial, charged with raping a teenage boy back in the 90s.

The 74-year-old had a preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon in Monroe County.

Schade is charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and statutory sexual assault for an incident the victim says happened nearly two decades ago.

Schade didn't answer any questions as he walked in and out of his hearing.

Instead, he kept repeating one phrase: "Christ died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again."

A Monroe County District judge ruled there's enough evidence to send the case against Schade to trial.

"It's very early in the proceedings," said Phil Lauer, Schade's attorney.

He says 1996 was a long time ago, and it's hard to accurately reconstruct the alleged incident.

"At this point we're in fact gathering mode and just trying to figure out what did and what didn't happen," he explained.

The crimes reportedly happened when Schade was 57 years-old and running the Singing Boys Choir of Pennsylvania, a group he founded in 1970.

The then-15-year-old victim took the stand, saying after joining Schade at a dance performance, Schade refused to take the teen home, making him stay at his Marshalls Creek Road house.

According to the victim, Schade demanded the boy sleep in his bed, and made him take his clothes off before forcing him to have sex.

Schade's lawyer is skeptical of the claims.

"He's had contact of various kinds with something in the neighborhood of 4,000 boys over the years," Lauer added. "I just hope the public remembers who he is and what he's done over the years before they judge him about this."

Authorities say other possible victims have come forward, and investigators found child pornography inside Schade's home.

"With the finding of child pornography, we have some grave and serious concerns about the safety of the public," described Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Mike Rakaczewski.

But a handful of people came to the hearing in support of the former choir director.

"These accusations are false, the guy is innocent," former choir member Dorian Gabriel Toth said. "Never once did Dr. Schade raise his hand to me, nor did I see him raise his hand to anybody else."

Other ex-choir members are singing a different tune.

Leonard French says Schade was a strict and violent leader who made him uncomfortable.

"He would be physical with you if you were out of line. He'd put you back into line. He would strike boys occasionally."

French was 11-years-old when he joined the touring choir in 1991.

He was only with the group for about a year.

French says he quit after Schade spanked him.

"Now I look back and I believe that Schade was overly familiar with some of the boys," shared French. "He definitely had favorite members that he liked to spend time with."

Schade is being held in Monroe County Prison.

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