Cheerleader Abuse Lawsuits Raise Racketeering Charges Against…

Several sexual-assault lawsuits filed by cheerleaders against coaches, choreographers and others in the industry now include allegations of racketeering, usually only seen in connection with organized crime syndicates.

At least 20 cheerleaders across six states have filed lawsuits alleging they were sexually abused by coaches and choreographers, and that gym owners, uniform manufacturers and gymnastics federations knew about the abuse but covered it up.

Several recently filed complaints included allegations that the US All-Star Federation and others in the industry orchestrated a cover-up of abuse, in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), according to the Associated Press.

The plaintiffs, referred to only as John Doe’s in the lawsuits, are primarily young male cheerleaders who claim they endured systemic coercion, sexual abuse and exploitation as minors while on the competitive cheerleading circuit.

Many of the coaches accused in the lawsuits, such as Dominick Frizzell, Jason McCartney and Scott Foster, were considered “fans” with large social media followings and television appearances.

Foster, owner of the Rockstar Cheer gym in South Carolina, committed suicide after the allegations and lawsuit filed in August.

Sexual abuse lawsuits and revelations of widespread cover-ups have rocked the cheerleading industry, which faces accusations of ignoring obvious signs of sexual abuse by coaches involving minors while raking in obscene profits by forcing parents to pay for hotels, equipment, lessons and transportation; at inflated prices.

In August, the U.S. All Star Federation, which governs and administers fan competitions across the country, issued a press release (PDF) addressing the complaints and urging its members to report suspected cases of abuse.

Critics of the organization, including many of the plaintiffs now suing, say there was little way the organization could have known about the culture of sexual harassment and rarely investigated or responded to reports when they were filed. The group declined to comment on the specific allegations of the lawsuits themselves, as the national organization is accused of many, if not all, of the lawsuits filed so far.

Cheer Sexual Abuse Racketeering Allegations

The charges, which were added to the South Carolina lawsuit in mid-December, include mail and email fraud, alleging that the American All Star Federation posted fake online messages on its website to require background checks on all coaches. See the article : Watch: Photo of Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders went viral last night. However, the lawsuits say the defendants did not actually require them for adults training children.

The lawsuit states that the racketeering involved systematically attracting minors by promising them fame, the potential for scholarships, and then intentionally endangering them by giving them drugs and alcohol, and then subjecting them to sexual abuse.

The defendants countered the claims, saying there was no evidence that groups like the USAF and Varsity Spirit, the uniform supplier, had any collusive agreement.

For those convicted, RICO charges carry severe penalties, including a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years, and they may be forced to pay triple the damages suffered by plaintiffs.

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