A once-prominent cheerleading gymnasium in South Carolina is on the heart of a rising scandal by which its founder died by suicide, its doorways have shuttered and an rising variety of coaches are being accused of sexual abuse and misconduct.
The saga began with the Aug. 22 suicide of famend cheerleading coach Scott Foster, 49, the founding father of Rockstar Cheer and Dance Inc. in Greenville County, South Carolina.
He was discovered useless in his automotive with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the pinnacle, the Greenville County Coroner’s Workplace mentioned. His loss of life got here after he came upon he was below investigation for the alleged abuse of underage athletes, in response to legal professionals for his accusers.
Since then, Foster’s property and Rockstar Cheer have been hit with two lawsuits on behalf of a number of nameless accusers, and on Thursday, six coaches had been additionally accused of abuse.
Lawsuits identify rising variety of coaches
A civil lawsuit was filed Aug. 30 in Greenville County Courtroom on behalf of an nameless minor who claims she had sexual encounters with Foster on the gymnasium.
Foster allegedly took an curiosity within the accuser beginning in early 2020 and lasting over the course of a 12 months after she was promoted to the highest tier staff at Rockstar, the criticism mentioned.
He had a number of communications along with her over Snapchat “that included messages of a sexual nature, nude photos of himself and requests for nude photos,” which she despatched, the criticism mentioned
On not less than 10 events, the woman “was persuaded into performing numerous sexual acts together with oral and penetrative intercourse with Foster,” which occurred at his dwelling, in his automobile, at Rockstar’s facility, at motels throughout competitions and in South Carolina and Florida, the criticism mentioned.
It additionally alleges that Foster supplied the plaintiff with alcohol on a number of of these events.
The go well with named Foster, who had already died on the time; Rockstar Cheer & Dance Inc; U. S. All Star Federation (USASF), the governing physique over the cheer trade; Varsity Spirit, which organizes competitions and camps; and The Nationwide Middle for Security Initiatives (NCSI), which supplies background checks.
The go well with accuses Rockstar of failure to conduct a correct background examine, failure to correctly practice and supervise Foster’s efficiency, and failure to forestall sexual misconduct.
On Sept. 1, a federal lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Courtroom in Greenville, South Carolina, in opposition to Foster’s property, his spouse Kathy Foster, Rockstar Cheer, USASF and Bain Capital, Varsity Spirit’s dad or mum firm, on behalf of a number of nameless accusers alleging that the defendants knew, or ought to have identified, about abuse by coaches on the gymnasium.
The go well with accused Scott Foster of consuming and doing medicine with minor athletes, sexually abusing them, soliciting nude photos, assault and groping. Kathy Foster is accused within the go well with of enabling her husband and in some cases realizing of his conduct.
That federal lawsuit was expanded Sept. 15, including three extra Jane Does.
The amended go well with additionally added six coaches as new defendants. All coaches had been described as proteges of Foster, with 5 having beforehand labored at Rockstar.
The coaches had been accused of a spread of inappropriate conduct together with rape, touching, oral intercourse, groping and soliciting nude images or sending nude images and movies to athletes.
The coaches didn’t instantly reply to NBC Information requests for remark.
‘This didn’t simply occur in a vacuum’
Forward of submitting the go well with, Strom legislation agency held a press convention saying they had been representing dozens of survivors, female and male, who ranged in age from minors to being of their 40s and lived throughout the U.S., although most instances of alleged abuse had been concentrated in Greenville. Many of the alleged incidents occurred between 2014 and 2019.
On the press convention, lawyer Jessica Finkling mentioned the abuse went past Foster.
“This didn’t simply occur in a vacuum. This was allowed to occur due to energy, unbridled energy the place these people felt snug benefiting from kids. That’s what that is about,” she mentioned.
USASF mentioned in a press release it was “devastated” to be taught of the allegations of potential abuse in South Carolina, urging any victims to return ahead.
“We respect the central function of legislation enforcement in investigating such stories, as a part of our dedication to a secure setting for all our members. Supporting USASF members is a precedence. We is not going to touch upon allegations or developments related to this matter to permit legislation enforcement to appropriately examine the allegations,” the assertion mentioned.
Varsity’s president Invoice Seely additionally issued a press release saying Foster was accused of “abhorrent felony, predatory conduct.”
“The alleged conduct runs counter to all the things the cheer and dance neighborhood is meant to symbolize,” he mentioned.
NCSI, Bain Capital, and a consultant for Kathy Foster didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon the fits.
Rockstar gyms throughout U.S. reduce ties with identify
On account of the scandal, Foster’s widow introduced that Rockstar Cheer in Greenville County is closing its doorways indefinitely.
“Though this was a tough choice, I imagine it’s the best choice below the circumstances,” Kathy Foster mentioned in a press release. “Over the previous 15 years, our unbelievable athletes have labored exhausting to construct a profitable legacy and I’ll at all times be extraordinarily happy with every of them.”
In an earlier assertion shared with NBC Information, she mentioned she was “heartbroken” by the allegations made by present and former Rockstar athletes.
“I hope the survivors are looking for and obtain the help they want. I’m sympathetic to their tales, and can cooperate with all concerned to ensure our athletes be taught and develop in a secure setting,” she mentioned.
Including to the blow, 10 cheerleading gyms working with the Rockstar identify in numerous states have severed ties with the model.
“As a gaggle of like-minded program house owners beforehand introduced collectively below the Rockstar identify, we’re standing collectively collectively to specific our unwavering help for our youngsters and their mother and father, and to reiterate our dedication to making sure a secure and constructive cheerleading neighborhood,” the gymnasium house owners mentioned in a joint assertion.
The assertion pressured that the gyms operated as particular person companies with “full independence.”
Sheriff’s workplace says it didn’t know of alleged abuse
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Workplace launched a press release Thursday night time saying it was unaware of stories of sexual abuse on the cheer gymnasium.
“The GCSO has not acquired any criticism about Scott Foster or sexual abuse occurring at rock star cheer. The one matter we investigated was his loss of life investigation,” the workplace mentioned to NBC affiliate WYFF of Greenville.
“We’ve one of many very best Crimes Towards Youngsters’s Unit and ICAC unit’s within the nation, and relaxation assured if a criticism of that nature was delivered to our consideration and occurred inside our jurisdiction, we might be conducting an in depth, thorough and well timed investigation.”