The choir’s demise as a functional organization was a result of many factors, but everyone agrees it was set in motion by a single episode: an accusation by a 14-year-old boy in 2001 that a counselor on the choir’s staff had sexually abused him. The counselor eventually was sentenced to two years in prison.
The accusation and the scandal that followed — Dr. Turnbull did not report the claim to the authorities and allowed the counselor to continue working with children — set off a chain of events that led the city to oust the choir in 2006 from the Choir Academy of Harlem, the school building that had been its home. That, in turn, deepened the choir’s already serious financial problems.
This is what happens when an organization trusted with the care of children betrays that trust and doesn’t have political influence. Mind you, Turnbull brought this demise himself. No one is indispensable and he traded the temporary protection of one counselor for the legacy of the choir. A sad choice with sad consequences.