COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – The latest lawsuit in a series alleging widespread sexual misconduct throughout competitive cheerleading says officials allowed two choreographers to continue working after being investigated for sexual abuse.
Snowballing accounts of the alleged abuse of cheerleaders’ has led to increased scrutiny around the sport since the founder of an elite South Carolina cheerleading gym formerly branded as “Rockstar cheer” reportedly committed suicide at the end of August amid an investigation into abuse. The latest lawsuit brings the number of defendants to 20.
The scandal has rocked the cheerleading world as the competition season gets underway. After allegations surfaced at South Carolina’s Rockstar Cheer, 10 gyms in the Carolinas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and New Jersey said they would drop the Rockstar name and brand.
Parent company Varsity Brands – which also faces a separate antitrust lawsuit – has denied any wrongdoing while expressing support for the cheerleaders who allege abuse.
The lawsuits paint a sordid picture of the sports scene in which coaches use their power to share drugs and initiate sex with underage athletes while the network of institutions provides weak or nonexistent supervision.
A federal complaint filed Monday in Ohio expanded the scope of the burgeoning scandal beyond the Southeast. Together, the unidentified plaintiffs across six states – all represented by South Carolina-based Strom Law Firm – accuse the sports governing body and leading competitive institutions of failing to protect underage athletes from complete abuse.
In the latest case, two men contracted to provide training at an Ohio gym invited a 17-year-old male cheerleader to their hotel room after midnight in late July 2016, the lawsuit alleges. Said the cheerleader who refused their invitations to drink alcohol, and that the man, then 24 and 25, had sex several times with the teenager even though he tried to leave. The gym called a meeting with the boy to discuss any inappropriate behavior but took no action, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff said he sent the details of the encounter in an anonymous email to two gyms in California and North Carolina in June 2020. After the US All Star Federation case manager touched base, the plaintiff made an official report and continued to cooperate with Ohio law enforcement officials. , according to the lawsuit.
Ohio law enforcement did not seek charges because the plaintiff was over 16 – the state’s age of consent – at the time, according to the lawsuit.
USASF suspended the two accused employees while a third-party investigation was conducted, according to the lawsuit, which added that the minor provided details about his September 23, 2020, Zoom call with an authorized USASF representative.
On November 19, 2020, both men were removed from USA Cheer’s general list of ineligible coaches, the lawsuit states. USASF and USA Cheer created the registry after allegations in 2020 that Jerry Harris — the famous coach on the popular Netflix show — had solicited sex from two children, the lawsuit said. Harris eventually pleaded guilty to sex crimes.
But recent journalistic research shows the list is incomplete. In September 2020, USA Today reported that the list misses dozens of cheerleading coaches who have been criminally charged or convicted of sexual abuse.
In a Nov. 23, 2020 phone call, a USASF attorney told the boy in the Ohio case that detectives said he could not pursue charges without witnesses, according to the lawsuit. Lawyers say that because of that, the USASF’s “hands are tied.”
Each lawsuit names USASF, USA Cheer, and Varsity Spirit, a subsidiary of Varsity Brands, as defendants. Legal experts argue that as the dominant provider of cheer competitions and camps and through the effective control of regulatory bodies, Varsity Spirit fails to provide the safe environment it advertises.
USASF and USA Cheer were both created using interest-free loans from the Varsity to manage the growing sport.
Varsity Spirit claims it provided the “necessary support” to establish USASF. But the company rejects the notion that it controls the governing body, insisting on independence from the start. Varsity Spirit recently retained a high-powered attorney to consider defamation claims related to the lawsuit.
“To be clear, Varsity stands with survivors and pursues justice,” Varsity Brands said in a statement. “We are outraged that predators are taking advantage of the cheerleading program to abuse innocent children. We reject any accusation that Varsity Spirit enables such unthinking behavior.
USASF did not respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday.
A public school system in North Carolina has banned its athletes from participating in competitions run by Varsity Spirit, WRAL-TV reported. Most recently, Georgia police obtained an arrest warrant against a coach accused of raping a 15-year-old boy, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
What are the allegations against Rockstar Cheer?
Rockstar Cheer, a cheerleading gym based in South Carolina, is involved in a sexual abuse scandal. Scott Foster, 49, the founder of Rockstar Cheer, died by suicide on August 22. See the article : Tate High Cheerleader Kyndell Ammons Signs With Troy. A week later, his estate and gym were hit with two lawsuits alleging sexual abuse.
What happened to Rockstar Cheer Greenville? Rockstar Cheer founder’s alleged abuse enabled by ‘systemic failure,’ lawyer claims. In a statement sent through the public relations agency NP Strategy, Kathy Foster announced on September 7, the prominent cheer gym located in Greenville County just west of Greer will be closed for the foreseeable future.
Why is Rockstar Cheer closed? Last night I announced that Rockstar Cheerleading and Dance is closing its doors forever. Although this was a difficult decision, I believe it was the best choice under the circumstances.
What happened to Rockstar Cheer? 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 have been shuttered and an increasing number of coaches have been accused of sexual abuse and misconduct.
Why did Maddy leave Navarro?
She has a complicated relationship with her dad. Read also : Pittsburgh Steelers fans and players whip the Falcons in Atlanta. Maddy revealed in the series that her father did not want her to attend school in Navarro, which is located in Texas, while her family is based in Massachusetts.
Did Maddy Brum get hit by a car? A star of a Netflix show suffered minor injuries earlier this week in Kansas City after she was hit by a car. Maddy Brum, famous for the docuseries â€œCheer,â€ was hit by a car in a crosswalk at 3:33 p.m. Tuesday at the intersection of 10th and Broadway Boulevard, according to Capt.
Where is Maddy Cheer now? James and Maddy currently cheer at Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech Spirit Program and are students in the College of Media & Communication.
What did Maddy from Cheer dad do?
She has a complicated relationship with her dad. Read also : Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers: How to watch, listen and live …. OK, but why? Maddy later shared that her father, Barry Brodeur, was imprisoned for rape and now cannot leave the state of Massachusetts for legal reasons.
Is Maddy Brum in the hospital? Maddy Brum, who appeared in season two of Netflix’s Cheer, was crossing the street when, as she wrote on Instagram, “a car turned on and drove at me at 20-30 mph.” Cheer’s Maddy Brum is thankful to be alive after being hit by a car.