Cheerleaders sexually abused by coaches in SC, lawsuit says

Sep 2, 2022, 8:32 AM | Updated: 8:59 am

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Multiple cheerleading coaches in South Carolina — including a coach who recently killed himself — sexually abused at least six boys and girls and provided them with drugs and alcohol, a federal lawsuit alleges.

A “coven of sexual predators” surrounded Rockstar Cheer of Greenville for more than a decade, according to one of the lawyers for the alleged victims.

Attorney Bakari Sellers contends that what happened is a result of the same kind of institutional failure seen in the case of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor who is serving a minimum of 40 years in prison after admitting that he molested some of the nation’s top gymnasts for years.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday by four girls and two boys who said they were abused by Scott Foster and others affiliated with Rockstar gyms. It suggests there could be up to 100 more survivors of the abuse.

“Scott Foster and his allies did their best to intimidate and isolate their targets, making these young people feel alone and somehow responsible. Well, they’re not alone anymore,” attorney Jessica Fickling said in a statement announcing the suit.

Foster, 49, was found dead in his car at a state park on Aug. 22. He shot himself in the head, the Greenville County Coroner’s Office ruled.

“He knew this was going to be a moment when the light was going to be shined on what I think will turn out to be a coven of sexual predators surrounding Rockstar,” said attorney James Bannister.

A number of people either knew Foster was abusing his cheer students and ignored it or did not have rules and procedures in place to stop the abuse, the lawsuit says.

Foster and other coaches not named in the lawsuit had sex with cheer students, sent and asked for explicit photos over social media, gave them alcohol and marijuana at their homes and in hotel rooms at cheer competitions and warned them to not tell anyone about it, according to the lawsuit.

“We have video of Scott Foster on Snapchat with beer bongs drinking with his underage cheerleaders,” Sellers said at a news conference this week.

The suit also names Varsity Brands, which runs cheerleading competitions; the U.S. All Star Federation, which is an organizing and governing body for competitive cheerleading across the country; Bain Capital, which bought Varsity in 2018, and others.

State and federal police are investigating Foster’s Rockstar Cheer and other cheerleading outlets, seizing computers, cellphones and other evidence, Bannister said. He said the investigating agencies asked lawyers not to identify them.

Several state and federal agencies have refused to tell news outlets whether they are involved.

Foster’s wife, Kathy, promised to cooperate with “all involved” to make sure athletes can safely learn and grow.

“I am heartbroken by the recent allegations made by current and former athletes from Rockstar Cheer and other cheer gyms across our community,” she said in a statement released this week. “I hope the survivors are seeking and receive the support they need. I am sympathetic to their stories.”

Varsity Brands President Bill Seely called the accusations devastating.

“Our hearts are broken right alongside yours,” he tweeted Thursday. “The alleged conduct runs counter to everything the cheer and dance community is intended to represent.”

Bain Capital didn’t return an email seeking comment.

Rockstar Cheer’s name is on more than a dozen gyms in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Arizona.

Ten of the gyms said in a statement this week that they had no connection with Foster and would be dropping the Rockstar brand name.

Foster opened his Greenville gym in 2007, according to his website.

___

Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan announces a new federal office of envir...
Associated Press

Biden administration launches environmental justice office

WARRENTON, N.C. (AP) — Forty years after a predominantly Black community in Warren County, North Carolina, rallied against hosting a hazardous waste landfill, President Biden’s top environment official visited what is widely considered the birthplace of the environmental justice movement Saturday to unveil a national office that will distribute $3 billion in block grants to […]
13 hours ago
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Defense Department shows Cpl. Joseph J. Puopolo. The solide...
Associated Press

Soldier who went missing during Korean War accounted for

BOSTON (AP) — A soldier from Massachusetts who went missing during the Korean War and was later reported to have died in a prisoner of war camp has been accounted for using modern scientific techniques, military officials said. Army Cpl. Joseph J. Puopolo, 19, of East Boston, was accounted for in August, according to a […]
13 hours ago
A model wears a creation as part of the Dolce & Gabbana women's Spring Summer 2023 collection prese...
Associated Press

Kim Kardashian culls Dolce & Gabbana archives for Milan show

MILAN (AP) — Kim Kardashian took Milan by storm on Saturday, curating a new collection for Dolce & Gabbana that took inspiration from 20 years of archival looks. It was a day of debuts in Milan, including Maximilian Davis, a 27-yeaer-old British designer with Afro-Caribbean roots, at the creative helm of Salvatore Ferragamo and Filipino […]
13 hours ago
Simon Stiell sits for an interview to discuss his new role as the executive secretary of the U.N. F...
Associated Press

Interview: New UN climate chief takes the fight personally

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — For the United Nations’ new climate chief, the fight is personal. As a former engineer who says he knows “how to make things work and get things done,” it wasn’t just what Simon Stiell did before he became a top U.N. official, it was where. Stiell was the environment and climate […]
13 hours ago
Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi acknowledges the audience applause after addressing the 77th sess...
Associated Press

China on Taiwan: ‘External interference’ won’t be tolerated

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — China underscored its commitment Saturday to its claim on Taiwan, telling assembled world leaders that anyone who gets in the way of its determination to reunify with the self-governing island would be “crushed by the wheels of history.” The language was forceful but, for Chinese leadership, well within the realm of […]
13 hours ago
FILE - Jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in N...
Associated Press

Pharoah Sanders, influential jazz saxophonist, dies at 81

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Pharoah Sanders, the influential tenor saxophonist revered in the jazz world for the spirituality of his work, has died, his record label announced. He was 81. Sanders, also known for his extensive work alongside John Coltrane in the 1960s, died in Los Angeles early Saturday, said the tweet from Luaka Bop, […]
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Cheerleaders sexually abused by coaches in SC, lawsuit says