Drum corps chairman resigns amid scrutiny of his hiring of disgraced teacher

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Fred Morrison, executive director of the Crossmen drum corps of San Antonio, Texas, talks to the horn line early Monday July 24, 2017 at Forney High School in Forney, Texas.

The chairman of Drum Corps International’s board of directors has resigned, just days after he came under scrutiny for employing a man who lost his teaching license in Florida because he sent sexually explicit text messages to a student.

Fred Morrison, who remains executive director of the Crossmen drum corps of San Antonio, Texas, had served on the board since 2010.

“Although done with a very heavy heart, I believe this is the appropriate course of action rather than have my decisions within my own corps continue to be a distraction to the DCI family,” Morrison said in a statement released by Drum Corps International.

Kathy Black, a New Mexico lawyer and a former drum corps member, who has served on the board since 2016, was named chairwoman after Morrison’s resignation Thursday.

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Camera icon Kyle Monroe
George Hopkins, former director of Allentown’s Cadets drum corps, has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by 11 women.

>> Sexual abuse in drum and bugle corps: Do you have a story?

Last month, nine women told the Inquirer and Daily News they had been sexually harassed or assaulted by George Hopkins, the longtime director of Allentown’s Cadets drum corps and among the most distinguished of the youth activity’s leaders. Two additional women have since said Hopkins raped them. The story sparked widespread calls for change to better protect participants and staff in the activity, which combines marching, music, theatrics, and color guard.

The DCI board of directors, led by Morrison, this month drafted a new code of conduct and ethics guidelines for its four dozen member organizations. At the same time, Morrison was facing increased pressure at his own corps over his 2012 decision to hire former Florida teacher Joel Moody.

On Tuesday, the Inquirer and Daily News reported that Moody had sent a number of sexually charged messages to a student in 2010, while he was the band director at Winter Park High School. One read: “I just want to grab you. Hike up your dress. Well you know the rest.”

Moody, then 31, resigned and in 2011 had his teaching certificate revoked for five years. In 2012, Morrison hired him to work for the Crossmen, where he later was promoted to assistant director.

Two former Crossmen employees this month told a reporter Moody often made them uncomfortable while they were on staff. One said he often gave her lingering hugs, placed his hand on her shoulder or back, or sat too close to her. He also, she said, regularly commented on her looks.

The second woman said she had a brief consensual sexual relationship with Moody a few months after she finished performing with the Crossmen. She said Moody singled her out for criticism the following summer after she had joined the corps’ staff and started dating another employee. She saw the criticism as retaliation triggered by jealousy.

Both women said they never considered complaining about the treatment to Morrison, believing he would side with Moody.

Morrison, in an email to parents on Tuesday, said Moody had resigned his position on May 1. The director of a nearby drum corps, however, said Moody told him last week he planned to be on tour with the Crossmen this summer. Morrison, who has declined repeated interview requests, did not respond to questions about the discrepancy.

Dan Acheson, the executive director of Drum Corps International, on Thursday declined to answer questions about when he first learned of Moody’s past and whether he ever spoke with Morrison about Moody’s employment by the Crossmen. In a statement he said it was inappropriate for him to “comment on any allegations of past misconduct” because it pertained to “personnel matters.”

Chris Komnick, vice chairman of DCI’s board and executive director of the Madison Scouts drum corps of Madison, Wis., in the statement released by DCI praised Morrison for serving with “incredible passion — always with a focus on the best interests of DCI.”

“We are grateful for his service,” he said.