Columbia, S.C. (AP) – Many cheerleading coaches in South Carolina – including the coach who recently killed himself – have sexually abused at least six boys and girls and supplied them with drugs and alcohol.
According to one of the alleged victims’ lawyers, the Rockstar Cheer of Greenville has surrounded a “coven of sexual predators” for over a decade.
Bakari Sellers attorney says what happened is the result of the same kind of institutional failure as in the case of Larry Nassar, a former US Gymnastics and Michigan State University physician who has been serving at least 40 years in prison after admitting that he molested some of the country’s best gymnasts for years.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday by four girls and two boys who said they were abused by Scott Foster and other people associated with Rockstar gyms. This suggests that there could be up to 100 more survivors of the abuse.
“Scott Foster and his allies tried to intimidate and isolate their goals by making these young people feel lonely and responsible in some way. Well, they are not alone anymore, ”said attorney Jessica Fickling in the statement announcing the lawsuit.
Foster, 49, was found dead in his car at a state park on August 22. He shot himself in the head, the Greenville County Coroner’s Office said.
“He knew there would come a point where the light would be shone on what I believe would be a coven of sexual predators surrounding Rockstar,” said attorney James Bannister.
Many people either knew that Foster was abusing his students and ignored it, or they did not have rules and procedures to stop the abuse, the lawsuit says.
Foster and other coaches not named in the lawsuit had sex with cheerleading students, posted and asked for explicit photos on social media, gave them alcohol and marijuana in their homes and hotel rooms at cheerobe competitions, and warned them not to tell anyone about it, according to lawsuit.
“We have a Scott Foster video on Snapchat of beer bongs drinking with his underage cheerleaders,” Sellers said at a news conference this week.
The suit is also called Varsity Brands, which runs cheerleading competitions; U.S. All Star Federation, which is the organizing and management body of a competitive cheerleader nationwide; Bain Capital, which bought Varsity in 2018, and more.
State and federal police are investigating Rockstar Cheer Foster and other cheerleaders by seizing computers, cell phones and other evidence, Bannister said. He said investigative agencies asked lawyers not to identify them.
Several state and federal agencies refused to tell the media whether or not they were involved.
Foster’s wife, Kathy, has vowed to work with “everyone involved” to ensure athletes learn and grow safely.
“I am devastated by the latest allegations made by current and former athletes at Rockstar Cheer and other cheerleading clubs in our community,” she said in a statement released this week. “I hope the survivors are looking for and get the support they need. I feel sorry for their stories. “
Varsity Brands president Bill Seely called the accusations devastating.
“Our hearts are broken right next to yours,” he tweeted on Thursday. “The alleged behavior runs counter to anything the fan and dance community is supposed to represent.”
Bain Capital did not return an email asking for a comment.
The name Rockstar Cheer is featured in over a dozen gyms in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Arizona.
Ten gyms said in a statement this week that they have no relationship with Foster and will drop the Rockstar brand name.
According to his website, Foster opened his gym in Greenville in 2007.
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