A once-prominent cheerleading fitness center in South Carolina is on the heart of a rising scandal wherein its founder died by suicide, its doorways have shuttered and an growing 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 lifeless in his automobile with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the top, the Greenville County Coroner’s Workplace mentioned. His dying got here after he came upon he was below investigation for the alleged abuse of underage athletes, in line with 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 have been additionally accused of abuse.
Lawsuits title rising variety of coaches
A civil lawsuit was filed Aug. 30 in Greenville County Court docket on behalf of an nameless minor who claims she had sexual encounters with Foster on the fitness center.
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 group at Rockstar, the grievance mentioned.
He had a number of communications along with her over Snapchat “that included messages of a sexual nature, nude footage of himself and requests for nude footage,” which she despatched, the grievance mentioned
On at the very least 10 events, the woman “was persuaded into performing varied sexual acts together with oral and penetrative intercourse with Foster,” which occurred at his house, in his car, at Rockstar’s facility, at resorts throughout competitions and in South Carolina and Florida, the grievance 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 gives background checks.
The go well with accuses Rockstar of failure to conduct a correct background verify, failure to correctly practice and supervise Foster’s efficiency, and failure to stop sexual misconduct.
On Sept. 1, a federal lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court docket in Greenville, South Carolina, in opposition to Foster’s property, his spouse Kathy Foster, Rockstar Cheer, USASF and Bain Capital, Varsity Spirit’s mother or father firm, on behalf of a number of nameless accusers alleging that the defendants knew, or ought to have recognized, about abuse by coaches on the fitness center.
The go well with accused Scott Foster of ingesting and doing medicine with minor athletes, sexually abusing them, soliciting nude footage, 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 have been described as proteges of Foster, with 5 having beforehand labored at Rockstar.
The coaches have been accused of a variety 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 have 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 circumstances of alleged abuse have 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 comfy making the most of youngsters. That’s what that is about,” she mentioned.
USASF mentioned in a press release it was “devastated” to study of the allegations of potential abuse in South Carolina, urging any victims to return ahead.
“We respect the central position of legislation enforcement in investigating such studies, as a part of our dedication to a protected atmosphere for all our members. Supporting USASF members is a precedence. We won’t 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 statement saying Foster was accused of “abhorrent prison, predatory conduct.”
“The alleged conduct runs counter to every part the cheer and dance neighborhood is meant to signify,” 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. minimize ties with title
On account of the scandal, Foster’s widow introduced that Rockstar Cheer in Greenville County is closing its doorways indefinitely.
“Though this was a troublesome choice, I consider 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 arduous to construct a profitable legacy and I’ll all the time be extraordinarily pleased 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 in search of and obtain the help they want. I’m sympathetic to their tales, and can cooperate with all concerned to ensure our athletes study and develop in a protected atmosphere,” she mentioned.
Including to the blow, 10 cheerleading gyms working with the Rockstar title in numerous states have severed ties with the model.
“As a gaggle of like-minded program homeowners beforehand introduced collectively below the Rockstar title, we’re standing collectively collectively to precise our unwavering help for our youngsters and their mother and father, and to reiterate our dedication to making sure a protected and optimistic cheerleading neighborhood,” the fitness center homeowners 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 evening saying it was unaware of studies of sexual abuse on the cheer fitness center.
“The GCSO has not acquired any grievance about Scott Foster or sexual abuse occurring at rock star cheer. The one matter we investigated was his dying investigation,” the workplace mentioned to NBC affiliate WYFF of Greenville.
“We’ve one of many best possible Crimes In opposition to Kids’s Unit and ICAC unit’s within the nation, and relaxation assured if a grievance of that nature was delivered to our consideration and occurred inside our jurisdiction, we’d be conducting an in depth, thorough and well timed investigation.”