Members of an all-boys choir are speaking out, one day after its director and founder was charged with rape.
Newswatch 16 talked with a member of the Singing Boys of Pennsylvania Thursday afternoon, and he said he quit the choir because the director made him feel uncomfortable.
“But to me when I was eleven, it was weird, different creepy, very secretive, why did it need to be so secret,” said Leonard French.
French was 11-years-old when he joined the singing boys choir of Pennsylvania back in 1991.
He quit just one year later because he had an uncomfortable encounter with the director, Dr. Bernard Schade.
“He grabbed me, someone, it turned out to be Schade, he grabbed be from behind, from the shoulder and gave me a spanking so hard that it lifted me off the ground,” said French.
On Wednesday, state police in Monroe County arrested and charged Dr. Schade with rape and sexual assault. Investigators said Schade sexually abused a 15-year-old choir member at his home on Marshalls Creek Road in East Stroudsburg in 1996.
According to the Singing Boys website, the choir is based mostly in Monroe and Northampton counties but has members from several other counties. The choir has traveled all over the world.
According to French, things were kept private. On tour, the boys were not allowed to call home, only on their birthdays, and letters were screened by Schade before they were sent home.
It was not uncommon for the boys to sleep with either a chaperone or with Schade himself.
“Every night it was assignments. It wasn’t the same people in the room every night, so Dr. Scahde could at will chose who could be in his bed each night,” explained French.
French is also an attorney. He said that he plans to represent another boy who claims he was sexually assaulted by Schade.
So far, the boy’s choir director is only charged with assaulting one victim.
Schade is locked up on $250,000 bail in Monroe County.