A once-prominent cheerleading gym in South Carolina is at the center of a growing scandal in which its founder died by suicide, its doors closed and a growing number of coaches accused of sexual abuse and misconduct.
The saga began with the August 22 suicide of famed cheerleading coach Scott Foster, 49, founder of Rockstar Cheer and Dance Inc. in Greenville County, South Carolina.
He was found dead in his car with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the Greenville County Coroner’s Office said. His death came after he learned he was under investigation for alleged abuse of underage athletes, according to lawyers for his accusers.
Since then, Foster’s estate and Rockstar Cheer have been hit with two lawsuits on behalf of several unnamed accusers, and on Thursday, six coaches were also accused of abuse.
Lawsuits name growing number of coaches
A civil lawsuit was filed Aug. This may interest you : Philly Live Sports Edition: Jason Kelce’s magical moment with a fan. 30 in Greenville County Court on behalf of an unnamed minor who claims she had intercourse with Foster at the gym.
Foster allegedly developed an interest in the accused beginning in early 2020 and lasting more than a year after she was promoted to Rockstar’s top-tier team, the complaint said.
He had numerous communications with her over Snapchat “including messages of a sexual nature, nude pictures of himself and requests for nude pictures,” she sent, the complaint said.
At least 10 times, the girl was persuaded to “perform various sexual acts including oral and penetrative sex with Foster,” which took place at her home, in her vehicle, at the Rockstar facility, at hotels during competitions and in South Carolina and Florida. , the complaint said.
It also alleges that Foster supplied the plaintiff with alcohol on multiple such occasions.
The suit was named Foster, who had already died at the time; Cheer Rockstar & Dance Inc; The USA All Star Federation (USASF), the governing body of the cheer industry; Varsity Spirit, which organizes competitions and camps; and The National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI), which provides background checks.
The suit accuses Rockstar of failing to conduct a proper background check, failing to properly train and supervise Foster’s performance, and failing to prevent sexual misconduct.
On September 1, a federal lawsuit was filed in US District Court in Greenville, South Carolina, against Foster’s estate, his wife Kathy Foster, Rockstar Cheer, USASF and Bain Capital, the parent company of Varsity Spirit, on behalf of several unnamed accusers alleging that was. the defendants knew, or should have known, about the abuse of coaches in the gym.
The suit accused Scott Foster of drinking and doing drugs with minor athletes, sexually abusing them, soliciting nude pictures, assaulting and groping. Kathy Foster is accused of enabling her husband and in some cases knowing about his behavior.
That federal law was expanded on September 15, adding three more Jane Does.
The amended suit also added six coaches as new defendants. All the coaches were described as Foster’s proteges, and five had previously worked at Rockstar.
The coaches were accused of a range of inappropriate behavior including rape, touching, oral sex, groping and soliciting nude photos or sending nude photos and videos to athletes.
The coaches did not immediately respond to NBC News’ requests for comment.
‘This didn’t just happen in a vacuum’
Before the Strom law firm filed, it held a press conference saying they were representing dozens of survivors, men and women, who ranged in age from minors to their 40s and who lived across the US, though that most cases of alleged abuse were targeted. To see also : Art at Your Feet lets artists create sidewalk art in Blissfield. in Greenville. Most of the alleged incidents took place between 2014 and 2019.
At the press conference, attorney Jessica Finkling said the abuse went beyond Foster.
“This didn’t just happen in a vacuum. This is allowed to happen because of power, unrestrained power when these people felt comfortable taking advantage of children. That’s what this is about,” she said.
USASF said in a statement that it was “devastated” to learn of the allegations of possible abuse in South Carolina, urging any victims to come forward.
“We appreciate the central role that law enforcement plays in investigating such reports, as part of our commitment to a safe environment for all of our members. Supporting USASF members is a priority. We will not comment on allegations or developments related to this matter to allow law enforcement to properly investigate the allegations,” the statement said.
Varsity president Bill Seely also released a statement saying Foster was accused of “horrific, predatory criminal conduct.”
“The alleged behavior contradicts everything that the dancing and cheering community is intended to represent,” he said.
NCSI, Bain Capital, and a representative for Kathy Foster did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the suits.
Rockstar gyms across U.S. cut ties with name
As a result of the scandal, Foster’s widow announced that Rockstar Cheer in Greenville County is closing their doors indefinitely. On the same subject : Camp report: Drake London, Elijah Wilkinson, Bryan Edwards and perhaps the most competitive practice of the Arthur Smith era.
“Although this was a difficult decision, I believe it was the best choice under the circumstances,” Kathy Foster said in a statement. “Over the past 15 years, our incredible athletes have worked hard to create a winning legacy and I will always be incredibly proud of each and every one of them.”
In an earlier statement shared with NBC News, she said she was “heartbroken” by the allegations made by current and former Rockstar athletes.
“I hope the survivors are seeking and getting the support they need. I empathize with their stories, and I will work with everyone involved to ensure that our athletes learn and grow in a safe environment,” she said.
Adding to the blow, 10 cheerleading gyms operating under the Rockstar name in various states have severed ties with the brand.
“As a group of like-minded program owners previously brought together under the Rockstar name, we stand together to express our unwavering support for our kids and their parents, and to reaffirm our commitment to a safe and positive cheerleading community ensure,” said the owners of the gym in a joint statement.
The statement emphasized that the gyms were operating as individual businesses with “complete independence”.
Sheriff’s office says it didn’t know of alleged abuse
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office released a statement Thursday night saying it was unaware of reports of sexual abuse at the cheer gym.
“The GCSO has not received any complaints about Scott Foster or about sexual abuse caused by rock star gambling. The only matter we investigated was his death investigation,” the office told NBC affiliate WYFF of Greenville.
“We have one of the best Crimes Against Children Units and ICAC units in the country, and we are sure that if a complaint of that nature had been brought to our attention and had occurred within our jurisdiction, we would have conducted an extensive, thorough and timely investigation. .”