YEA! creates new code of conduct after sexual harassment allegations

 

YEA! says every person associated with its drum corps programs must sign a code of conduct, and any bad conduct will have consequences.

This is just the latest effort by the new board to steady a marching dynasty rocked by controversy.

"Our number one priority is creating a safe environment for all of our participants in YEA! activities," Doug Rutherford said.

Youth Education in the Arts Board Chairman Doug Rutherford says YEA! has strengthened its sexual harassment policy and created a new code of conduct and several avenues for people to address concerns.

The changes come a month after YEA! CEO George Hopkins was fired for allegedly sexually harassing or assaulting roughly a dozen women dating back to the 1980s.

Some of those women claimed they didn't report the incidents because at the time Hopkins was the rule of law at YEA! and they feared retaliation.

Rutherford says now, a specific person is designated to handle complaints and when claims have merit, consequences will range from an apology to expulsion from the program or termination.

At the end of April, Rutherford spoke to approximately 300 cadets and their parents talking about the realities the organization is now facing: Paying for an investigation by a Chicago law firm, sexual harassment training for everybody and the need to cancel the West Coast portion of the summer tour.

Rutherford says YEA! is taking a challenging situation and creating something positive; what he calls the "New Era Cadets."

"I would say it's almost exclusively positive about what we're doing to move forward as an organization, people are very excited to be a part of what we are creating," he said.

Rutherford says the investigation into Hopkins' tenure should be complete sometime this summer.

In the meantime, Drum Corps International, the organization that sanctions the competitions for the Allentown Cadets, is also revamping its policies in order to better protect participants.