Youngblood Brass Band co-founder David Henzie-Skogen was fired in May from his staff position at Shadow Drum and Bugle Corps.
Photo: David Henzie-Skogen looks toward the camera in a still from a 2012 video journal entry.
Editor’s note: This story discusses allegations of grooming, abuse, and inappropriate sexual behavior with minors. If you or someone you know needs support, please refer to a Google Doc we have compiled of local, state, and national resources.
David Henzie-Skogen, a longtime Madison musician known for his work in Youngblood Brass Band and Cougar, was fired from his job as a youth music instructor in May after a former student accused him of using his position to start a sexual relationship. Since then, several more accusations have emerged from former female students. They allege that Henzie-Skogen groomed students, communicated with them through inappropriate private messages, and started physical relationships with them just after they finished the programs he taught.
Shadow Drum and Bugle Corps, based in Henzie-Skogen’s hometown of Oregon, announced on October 4 that it had “investigated, and confirmed inappropriate and grooming behavior” and reported Henzie-Skogen to Drum Corps International, the governing body for youth marching bands. The anti-sexual-violence organization RAINN defines grooming as “manipulative behaviors that the abuser uses to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to the abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught.”
The Shadow program is for 13- to 18-year-olds. Skogen is 42. As of this writing, Tone Madison has not learned of any criminal charges or civil proceedings against Henzie-Skogen. Shadow president Ken McGlauchlen says that detectives with the Oregon Police Department have contacted him about the allegations. Henzie-Skogen did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
McGlauchlen says a former student of the program came forward to Shadow’s former executive director, Rebecca Compton-Allen, on May 18, 2021 to report an inappropriate relationship that began with Henzie-Skogen when the student was in the program. The executive committee of Shadow’s board investigated the accusations, finding evidence that the relationship first began in the form of inappropriate text messages and images, then escalated to a physical relationship after the student turned 18. On May 27, McGlauchlen says, Henzie-Skogen acknowledged to Shadow’s leadership that he had behaved inappropriately with the student. He was fired the same day. At that point, the organization’s leadership was willing to believe that this was an isolated lapse of judgment, and did not go public with the news of the firing.
“I asked him specifically on that call, were there any others that were gonna come out? And he said no,” McGlauchlen says. “He admitted that he had had an inappropriate relationship with this member and he took ownership of it, and we thought it was a done deal and we could part ways with his legacy intact…the victim at the time did not look for any additional feedback or want any kind of harm to come to him.”
But over the following months, two more former students came forward to Shadow’s board or staff to report similar experiences with Henzie-Skogen, McGlauchlen says. The cases the organization currently knows about go back as far as 2007. After further investigation and discussion, Shadow’s board decided to make a public statement, and to report Henzie-Skogen to DCI to prevent him from having access to students in the future. After the statement was released Monday night, a fourth student came forward. The Shadow board is also currently investigating a fifth complaint.
The people who came forward with reports about Henzie-Skogen did not speak with Tone Madison for this story, but gave McGlauchlen their permission to speak publicly about the investigation.
At the time of this writing, Shadow’s leadership does not believe any of the relationships became physical until after the students had turned 18 and had finished the Shadow program.
“We definitely saw a pattern there and it was very calculated, very driven, very disturbing, and it was determined that something had to be said stronger so that it could not be repeated or continued elsewhere,” McGlauchlen says. Some of the students reported that they were as young as 14 and 15 when they first started exchanging private messages with Henzie-Skogen. Most of the women who have come forward to Shadow, McGlauchlen says, still live in or visit the Madison area and decided to come forward in part because Henzie-Skogen’s presence made them afraid to run into him around town.
Henzie-Skogen has played a prominent role in the Madison music community for more than 20 years. In the late 1990s, he co-founded Youngblood Brass Band, which built up a strong following for its hybrid of hip-hop and second-line jazz. Youngblood has toured internationally and released its most recent album, 2013’s Pax Volumi, on the UK label Tru Thoughts. Henzie-Skogen is also a member of the instrumental rock band Cougar, whose 2006 debut album Law attracted national press attention and included some additional mixing work from Tortoise’s John McEntire. The band’s second album, Patriot, came out in 2009 on Counter Records, a sub-label of the prominent UK electronic label Ninja Tune. Henzie-Skogen also co-founded and operates Layered Music, an independent label that has put out releases from Madison-based artists including Tony Barba, Chants, and Mama Digdown’s Brass Band, in addition to publishing sheet music.
RAINN’s resource page on grooming explains that “trust development and keeping secrets” is often part of the pattern of this behavior. This corresponds with the patterns Shadow leadership found in its investigation of the complaints against Henzie-Skogen.
“One of the biggest concerns was, it was reported that he would use code words with those he was reaching out to so that he could come by and say those code words to those students and no one would know what was going on,” McGlauchlen says.
Shadow has been a private non-profit since 2019, but initially spun off from the marching band program at Oregon High School in Wisconsin. Henzie-Skogen was himself a student of the program, then became an instructor in the early 2000s. He discussed his job in a 2009 interview with The Bad Penny:
“The program I work with, I’ve been involved with on one level or another since I was, like, 13,” he continued. “Since I was an eighth-grader. … I marched in their drum line when I was in high school. Then I started assistant teaching after I got out, and I took over the percussion part of it in 2004.”
The Oregon School District provides funding and other support for Shadow, but a separate nonprofit, Oregon Band Boosters, handles the actual hiring. An attorney for the Oregon School District referred inquiries to a district spokesperson, Erika Mundinger. “Shadow Drum and Bugle Corps is an independently run organization that included Oregon School District students as well as students from around the country,” Mundinger says. “Mr. Henzie-Skogen is not and has not ever been employed by the Oregon School District.” Responding to a follow-up question about whether the incidents would trigger an investigation or other action from the school district, Mundinger wrote in an email:
“In the past, OSD has provided some financial support to Shadow, as a large number of OSD students participated. Over the years, the number of OSD students participating declined, as did our financial support. The OSD has not provided any financial support for the past two years.
“OSD just learned of the allegations this week. Mr. Henzie Skogen is not and has not ever been employed by Oregon School District, so we would not be the organization to conduct an investigation.
Henzie-Skogen’s long involvement with the program raises an obvious question: Why did no one else in Shadow’s leadership, or in the local music community, notice a problem before 2021 and call attention to it? Several of Henzie-Skogen’s bandmates Tone Madison contacted for this story either did not respond or declined to comment.
McGlauchlen acknowledges that other staff and board members likely missed some “red flags” over the years. To further muddy the waters, McGlauchlen says that Henzie-Skogen was a “big advocate” for creating documents and processes to protect students and enable them to report inappropriate behavior. In hindsight, McGlauchlen asks, “did he set those policies in place to cover up?”
The world of youth drum corps has experienced several abuse scandals in the past few years. In 2018, the leader of a top drum corps in Pennsylvania resigned after former students reported a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct. An extensive series of reports for The Philadelphia Inquirer that year revealed that “Nearly half of the 24 World Class drum corps have employed at least one former teacher previously disciplined for misconduct with a student.” Closer to home, DCI suspended Cudahy’s Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps & Color Guard in 2018, after conducting an investigation that revealed poor health and safety practices and a registered sex offender on the corps’ staff.
McGlauchlen says that Shadow will not perform as a drum corps in 2022, and that the organization wants to acknowledge its responsibility to offer a safe place for its students. “That having been violated and abused, we’re not in a position that we can honestly say that it is a safe place, and we have an opportunity to review all our policies and to make sure that we don’t ever put another student in a [position] that they could be groomed,” McGlauchlen says.
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