Pennsylvania drum corps files for bankruptcy amid sexual abuse lawsuit; will not march again

ERIE, Pa. (WHTM) — The Cadets Arts and Entertainment Inc., the nonprofit owner of the Pennsylvania-based drum corps The Cadets, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

According to the announcement made by the Cadets Arts & Entertainment Board of Directors on Tuesday, the move comes in part due to an ongoing 2020 sexual abuse lawsuit that was filed in Bergen County, New Jersey.

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According to online court documents, the plaintiff alleges that she was sexually abused as a child between approximately 1982 and 1983 by an instructor employed by what was then known as the Garfield Cadets.

The lawsuit lists multiple defendants including The Garfield Cadets now known as The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps., Youth Education in The Arts (YEA!), Cadets Arts & Entertainment, Inc. and Drum Corps International Inc (DCI).

In response to the litigation, Cadets Arts and Entertainment denied the allegations and released a statement in November 2023,

“The alleged incident, which CAE disputes and denies, occurred more than 40 years ago on New Year’s Eve, not at an official event sponsored by the Garfield Cadets. CAE did not exist until 2020. In May 2019, New Jersey changed its law, extending the statute of limitations and providing a two-year window for civil actions and past sexual abuse claims. In September 2020, a lawsuit was filed against multiple entities bearing the names “the Cadets,” the “Garfield Cadets,” the “Cadets of Bergen County,” and fictitious parties as successor entities. YEA! and CAE were subsequently named as defendants.

The CAE board and the organization’s attorneys have vigorously worked to defend the case and to oppose any finding of, among other things, successor liability. Mediation is scheduled for November. Until this lawsuit is resolved, CAE cannot further comment on it or CAE’s financial challenges.”

In this week’s update, Cadets Arts and Entertainment also announced that due to the financial strain of defending the case, the Board of Directors has decided to end “The Cadets,” their flagship program.

“This situation has led to the heartbreaking and tragic decision by the CAE Board of Directors to end CAE and The Cadets program. Unfortunately, the necessity of Chapter 7 bankruptcy means that The Cadets will never return to the marching arts competition field again or risk arriving back where CAE is today,” the announcement states.

According to their website, The Cadets were founded in Garfield, New Jersey in 1934 and have since become one of the most decorated and oldest drum corps of their kind.

abc27’s sister station WJET Erie reported that The Cadets announced that they would suspend competition for the 2024 season in October 2023 due to financial shortfalls.

That announcement came a little more than a year after the program moved to Erie, following 20 years of being headquartered in Allentown, Pa.

Cadets Arts & Entertainment, Inc. was founded in 2020.

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