Counter-protestors greatly outnumbered rally attendees at Saturday's "We the People" rally of self-described conservatives on Independence Mall. Four people were arrested, and though online hype raised concern that the event would attract violence-prone hate groups, calm —and Gritty—mostly prevailed at the event. In other parts of Philly, the day was much more violent. In separate shootings and an attack, three people were killed Saturday morning, including a 20-year-old man who police say was beaten with hammers and knives. This morning, we also spoke with reporter Tricia Nadolny about her coverage of the fall of George Hopkins, the former leader of the famed Allentown Cadets drum corps, following sexual assault allegations.
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Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. In April, reporter Tricia Nadolny reported on sexual assault allegations made against George Hopkins, the renowned former director of the famed Cadets drum corps in Allentown. This week, Hopkins was charged with sexually assaulting two former employees. Nadolny discusses her reporting and the future of the Cadets.
For people who aren't familiar, what are the Cadets and what was the scope of George Hopkins' role in the organization?
The Cadets are a renowned drum and bugle corps based in Allentown. The members range in age from 16 to 22 and spend their summers traveling the country performing shows that combine marching band, color guard and theatrics. The Cadets compete against other corps and have won 10 national championships. George Hopkins was the executive director for 35 years and seen as a visionary in the activity.
You've been reporting on the sexual misconduct allegations against Hopkins for months. How did the allegations first come to your attention?
Simply put, I got a tip. In February, I was contacted be an alumnus of the Cadets who told me there were several women who had accused Hopkins of sexual misconduct. He knew a few of them personally and said they were looking to connect with a reporter. I knew virtually nothing about drum corps at the time, but I was intrigued by my initial conversations with this man. I grew more intrigued as I started connecting with some of the women who had worked with and marched under Hopkins.
Since your first report on these allegations, has the organization done anything to address what happened and to prevent something like this from happening again?
Yes, there have been a lot of changes, both for the Cadets and the activity as a whole. The Cadets' board of directors resigned, and a new one was named, along with a new executive director. Nationally, the activity's sanctioning body, Drum Corps International, passed a new code of conduct and ethics that for the first time requires corps to have policies addressing matters of sexual harassment and misconduct in order to compete. Much to my surprise, the Hopkins story became a watershed moment for drum corps, inspiring many women and men to speak out about their own experiences.
Now that Hopkins has been formally charged with sexual assault, what does this mean for the future of the Cadets?
The Cadets have a new leadership team in place, so his having been charged doesn't have any direct impact on the group. But Hopkins and his former employer haven't completely been able to part ways. Hopkins in August filed a suit in federal court seeking more than $650,000 in back pay and severance. Just this week, the nonprofit filed its own counterclaim, seeking more than $1.5 million from Hopkins, the amount it said it lost in revenue and incurred in new expenses because of the fallout from his scandal.
Those glasses are pretty fly, @jbarmash. Let's go birds 🦅
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