Other coaches named in South Carolina cheerleader abuse case

A lawsuit alleging rampant sexual abuse of underage athletes at a cheerleading gym in South Carolina has been amended to name six more coaches and three more accusers as defendants.

The accusers, seven women and two men, allege in an amended federal lawsuit Thursday that they were sexually assaulted by Rockstar Cheerleading and Dance coaches in Greenville, in the northwestern part of the state. Lawyers for the accusers argue that the sexual assault in the gym could have taken place two decades ago and that there may be 100 more victims who have not come forward.

One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Bakary Sellers, compared the case to that of Larry Nassar, a former US and Michigan State University gymnastics doctor who is serving at least 40 years in prison after admitting he molested some of the nation’s top gymnasts in years.

None of the Rockstar coaches have been charged, and the Associated Press is not naming them. State and federal law enforcement are investigating the gym and other support points and have seized computers, mobile phones and other evidence, one of the accusers’ lawyers, James Bannister, said earlier this month. The agencies asked the lawyers not to name them, he said.

According to the lawsuit, the violence ranged from rape and forced oral sex to molestation and pressure on children as young as 13 to send naked pictures of themselves to coaches. The lawsuit also details instances in which coaches provided alcohol and cannabis to students at home and in 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 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Katie Foster, his widow, announced earlier this month that Rockstar Cheerleading and Dance was closing “indefinitely.”

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

The amended lawsuit details several instances where it alleges that athletes have been abused outside of South Carolina at events sanctioned by Varsity Spirit, which hosts the competition, and by the U.S. All-Star Federation, the country’s governing body for support.

Varsity Spirit President Bill Seeley said in a September 1 statement that the allegations detailed “disgusting criminal, predatory behavior” and that they were “awful to hear.” A USASF statement dated August 30 said the organization was “devastated to learn of allegations of possible abuse.” The statement declined to comment on the events while law enforcement investigates and reaffirmed that members must report any allegations.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they expect to file more lawsuits with 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,” Bakary Sellers’ attorney said in a statement. “For Varsity Spirit, USASF and Bain Capital, those survivors didn’t matter. Their checks are done. They did nothing to stop this violence then, and they are doing nothing now.”

(James Pollard is a 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 hidden issues.)

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

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