Originally created 12/26/05

Troubled Boys Choir of Harlem faces eviction by city

NEW YORK - The world-renown Boys Choir of Harlem, struggling under millions of dollars of debts and allegations that its founder ignored reports of sexual abuse, is being evicted by the city.

The choir has been asked to leave the public school where it practices for free by Jan. 31, 2006. The Boys Choir also provided some instruction at the school, called the Choir Academy of Harlem, as part of a 12-year collaboration with the Department of Education.

The choir failed to fulfill a 2004 agreement to find a new chief executive to replace founder Walter Turnbull, said department attorney Michael Best in a letter Thursday. Turnbull was demoted to artistic director after an investigation concluded he did not act on reports that an employee was sexually abusing a student.

Turnbull has continued to run the organization, the attorney said.

The department also said the choir staff failed to report to the school when expected - apparently because the staff was not being paid due to the choir's financial problems.

In January 2005, the Boys Choir asked the department for $705,000. It said it had debts of up to $5 million and anticipated a deficit of hundreds of thousands of dollars that fiscal year. The department, which had not previously funded the Boys Choir, refused.

Turnbull said Friday the Boys Choir would find a new home.

"Surely there are people out here who realize that when 98 percent of your kids graduate high school and go on to college that there's something right," he told Fox 5 News.


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