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Former member of boys choir remembers abusive director

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 03 2014 05:00:18 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 03 2014 06:02:12 PM CDT

He's already behind bars for allegedly raping a teenage boy in the 1990s; now other former members of the Singing Boys of Pennsylvania choir say Dr. Kenneth Schade was physically abusive.

MIDDLE SMITHFIELD TWP., Pa. -

He's already behind bars for allegedly raping a teenage boy in the 1990s; now other former members of the Singing Boys of Pennsylvania choir say Dr. Kenneth Schade was physically abusive.

"Schade grabbed him and threw him up against the piano and hit him on the butt, just gave him this merciless spanking," recalled Leonard French.

It's an incident the Bethlehem man describes as a beating.

French was 11-years-old when he joined the Singing Boys of Pennsylvania touring choir in 1991.

"We practiced often, we practiced a lot, practice was always taken seriously."

French says Schade made him uncomfortable.

On tour, he explains calls home were basically outlawed, and letters had to go through staff before they were mailed.

French tells us the male chaperones as well as Schade would bunk with the boys.

"He would chose a person to be in his room that night," French explained. "Sometimes it was someone he said was being particularly bad behaviored or ill behaviored, that person would be in his room that night."

French didn't last long in the choir.

He says he left the group after the director spanked him for missing a solo.

"I remember it was so hard that I was up in the air, like my feet came off the ground," he said.

French is now an attorney, and tells us he represents a former choir member whose allegations against Schade in 2012 got the ball rolling with the FBI and State Police to investigate the 74-year-old.

After not seeing Schade in more than two decades, French made sure he was at Wednesday's hearing.

"I wanted to see the justice with my own eyes," French shared. "I wanted to see him in handcuffs, I wanted to see him in his jumpsuit."

A Monroe County judge sent the case against Dr. Kenneth Schade to trial.

He's being held in Monroe County Prison.

Officials say more charges are possible.

Other alleged victims have come forward, and investigators say they found child pornography at Schade's house.