ATLANTA — A 44-page federal lawsuit alleges a systematic failure to protect athletes in the sport of cheerleading.
Nationally-renowned, South Carolina cheerleading coach Scott Foster, who owned Rockstar Cheer along with several other unnamed coaches, are accused of assaulting children they were training and threatened them if they told anyone. Foster died by suicide the week prior to the lawsuit being filed.
His widow, Kathy Foster, announced in a statement Rockstar Cheer is closing.
"Last night I announced that Rockstar Cheerleading and Dance is closing its doors indefinitely," she said. "Although this was 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 and I will always be extremely proud of each of them. I ask for privacy for my children and for those personally affected during this difficult time."
The federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of 100 victims identified only as Jane Does and John Does. The first victim listed inside the lawsuit lives in Austell. It states, "In May of 2019, when Plaintiff John Doe 1 was sixteen years old and attending Varsity Defendants' Summit competition in Florida, Defendant Scott Foster once again solicited sex from Plaintiff John Doe 1."
Jessica Fickling, who is one of several attorneys representing these victims with Strom Law Firm in Columbia, S.C., said this type of predatory behavior happened across the country.
“Much of what happened was actually bringing children across state lines," Fickling explained. “I think Scott Foster dying of self-inflicted gunshot wound is why now, this is finally, this is the reckoning.”
Fickling said the allegations of abuse spans over decades. Other plaintiffs include Varsity and U.S. All Star Federation which describes its mission as one to provide consistent rules and safety guidelines along with promoting a positive image for the sport.
The lawsuit claims these organizations were aware of the sex abuse and did nothing about it.
“We should be able to trust in the intuitions like Varsity like Rockstar like USASF to protect our children and to understand these are children and not a revenue stream," Fickling said.
Varsity released the following statement on Twitter:
Additionally, USASF released the following statement:
The U.S. All Star Federation (USASF), a membership organization for competitive cheer and dance, is devastated to learn of allegations about potential abuse of All Star athletes in South Carolina and potentially other areas as well. Our organization is dedicated to athlete safety, in all aspects, and has created a strong foundation that relies on athletes, coaches, event producers, and parents to report allegations of prohibited conduct affecting members at events and facilities where our members are present. We respect the central role of law enforcement in investigating such reports, as part of our commitment to a safe environment for all our members. Supporting USASF members is a priority. We will not comment on allegations or developments associated with this matter to allow law enforcement to appropriately investigate the allegations. We are continuing our efforts to promote safety for all of our members and help them understand that they should report any allegations to law enforcement as well as to USASF. If you know something, do not assume it has been reported. This assumption is often why things go unreported and therefore are not investigated. Keeping athletes safe takes everyone. Now more than ever, everyone needs to come together to create an environment where all members are safe, happy, and have room to grow and be successful. There is no place in All Star for anything but our best.
Fickling expects more victims around the country to come forward.
“The world of cheer is huge," she said. "The numbers will continue to increase because what we’ve seen is the conduct talking about in respect to Scott Foster is not isolated."
You can read the full lawsuit below: