Sport

More coaches named in South Carolina cheerleader abuse case


COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — A lawsuit alleging widespread sexual abuse of underage athletes at a competitive cheerleading gym in South Carolina has been amended to feature six more coaches as defendants and three more criminals.

The accusers — now seven women and two men — say they were sexually assaulted by the coaches at Rockstar Cheerleading and Dance in Greenville, in the northwest corner of the state, in federal lawsuit amended Thursday. Lawyers for the accusers claim that sexual abuse at the gym could date back two decades and that there may have been another 100 victims who didn’t come to the fore.

Bakari Sellers, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, likened the case to the case of former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to at least 40 years in prison after admitting to harassing some of the nation’s top gymnasts. years.

None of the Rockstar coaches have been charged, and the Associated Press is not naming them. State and federal law enforcement investigated the gym and other cheerleading stores and seized computers, cell phones and other evidence, James Bannister, a lawyer for the accusers, said earlier this month. He said agencies asked lawyers not to identify them.

According to the lawsuit, abuse ranged from rape and forced oral sex to harassment and pressuring 13-year-olds to send their nude photos to coaches. The lawsuit also details cases where coaches gave alcohol and marijuana to students in their homes and hotel rooms during cheerleading competitions.

The allegations first focused on gym founder Scott Foster, who was found dead in his car on August 22. The coroner determined that he died from a gunshot wound to the head.

His widow, Kathy Foster, announced earlier this month that Rockstar Cheerleading and Dance will shut down “indefinitely.”

“While this is a difficult decision, I believe it is the best option under the circumstances. Over the past 15 years our incredible athletes have worked hard to build a winning legacy,” Foster said in a statement reported by local NBC affiliate WYFF. and I will always be immensely proud of each of them. I want privacy for my children and those personally affected during this difficult time.”

The amended lawsuit details several instances where athletes alleged abuse at events sanctioned by Varsity Spirit, which runs competitions outside of South Carolina, and the US All Star Federation, the nation’s cheerleading governing body.

University Spirit President Bill In a September 1 statement, Seely said: He said the charges detail “abominable crime, predatory behavior” and “it was devastating to hear”. In an August 30 statement, the USASF said the organization was “devastated to learn of the allegations of potential misconduct.” In a statement, he declined to comment on developments as law enforcement investigations continue and reiterated that members must report any allegations.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they expect more lawsuits to be filed involving the names of other perpetrators at other gyms around the country.

“We’re talking about serious repeated abuse that has been reported to everyone, including the Greenville County Sheriff’s Department,” attorney Bakari Sellers said in a statement. “For Varsity Spirit, USASF and Bain Capital, these survivors were not important. Checks done. They did nothing then to stop this abuse, and now they are doing nothing.”

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James Pollard is a corps member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on confidential issues.





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