GREENVILLE, SC – Six more coaches formerly associated with Rockstar Cheer have been charged with sexual abuse in an amended federal lawsuit Thursday, the latest development in a growing scandal that has sent shock waves through the world of competitive cheerleading.
The lawsuit, originally filed Sept. 1 in Greenville, South Carolina, now includes three additional plaintiffs, all unidentified, plus the new coaches, who are being publicly accused for the first time: Kenny Feeley, Josh Guyton, Nathan Allan Plank, Christopher Hinton. , Traevon Black and Peter Holley.
The coaches, along with Rockstar founder Scott Foster, are accused of a range of misconduct, including rape, drugging athletes, groping and touching, and sharing sexual images. In several cases, the alleged abuse occurred when the complainants were minors.
Almost all of the abuse is alleged to have occurred while the defendants were training at Rockstar Cheer and Dance Inc., the now-closed competitive cheerleading gym in Greer, South Carolina.
The lawsuit alleged that Foster’s behavior is a symptom of a much larger problem. The complaint attacks the culture and organization of competitive cheerleading, detailing an exploitative system with little accountability that “created, organized and propagated a system of abuse of young athletes against innocent victims.”
Foster was found to have committed suicide last month, according to the Greenville County Coroner’s Office.
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The amended complaint accuses Feeley, then a coach working for Foster, of sexually abusing an unnamed plaintiff at a hotel where the team was staying during a competition. The complaint also alleges that Feeley raped the plaintiff himself in his apartment after supplying him with drugs and alcohol, possibly with Foster’s knowledge.
When this abuse allegedly occurred was not included in the lawsuit.
Feeley was an assistant cheerleading coach at Clemson University from 2004 to 2006, according to the website of her current cheerleading consulting business, Spring CTD.
An unidentified male plaintiff alleges that Black and Holley “began making inappropriate and vulgar comments” to him when he joined Rockstar. At the time, the plaintiff was 14 years old. Two years later, when the plaintiff was 16, according to the complaint, Black and Holley solicited “naked photographs” of the minor.
One of the two coaches, whose identity has not been specified, also allegedly sent nude photos of himself to the plaintiff.
Guyton is alleged to have inappropriately touched a child under the age of 15 while coaching at Rockstar. The touching, which the complaint identifies as “grooming behavior,” occurred both at the gym and at her home, according to the lawsuit. Only after the plaintiff “confided in her mother” about the behavior did the plaintiff recognize it “as abuse,” according to the lawsuit.
An unidentified plaintiff alleges a variety of abuse by three trainers: Kathy Foster, Scott Foster’s wife, for “harassment,” “body shaming” and “excessive” coaching and punishment; Plank, for sending naked photos and videos of himself masturbating to the plaintiff when she was just 13 years old; and Hinton, for forcing the plaintiff to “give oral sex” to her when she was 14 years old.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff did not report Hinton’s alleged assault for fear that “the trainers or others at Rockstar would target” her sister, who also worked out at the gym. Similarly, the defendant felt “powerless to stop” Plank’s alleged abuse, fearing “that she would be demoted from the program or otherwise punished.”
The plaintiff, however, disclosed Plank’s abuse to her mother, who later reported it to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office and the cheerleaders’ governing bodies, Varsity Spirit LLC and USASF, according to the complaint . But the mother’s reports were “dismissed as an attempt to manipulate her daughter’s position on the cheer team and gym,” the complaint alleges.
Finally, the complaint raises new allegations against Scott Foster, already accused of abuse by several plaintiffs in this lawsuit and a previous complaint filed in Greenville County last month. In the amended complaint filed Thursday, Foster is accused of supplying drugs to an unidentified plaintiff at a cheerleading camp in Miami when the plaintiff was 18 years old. The complaint also alleges that Foster took the plaintiff to a nightclub, where he bribed a bouncer to let her in. entrance
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Alleged institutional failures, including that of Varsity Spirit
The amended lawsuit includes an additional new defendant: Jeff Webb, founder and former CEO of competitive cheerleading organization Varsity Spirit LLC, who is also named as a defendant.
Varsity, Varsity’s owner, Bain Capital, Varsity’s former owner, Charlesbank Partners, and cheerleading’s governing body, the United States All-Star Federation, are alleged to have created and maintained an environment that allow abuse According to the lawsuit, these organizations operated an exploitative system with little accountability that “created, organized and propagated a system of abuse of young athletes against innocent victims.”
The lawsuit alleges complicity on the part of Webb in his capacity as head of Varsity. Webb describes himself as the “brainchild” of the competitive environment created by Varsity and used “competencies as a mechanism for his companies to establish dominance in the joy market.”
The complaint alleges that Varsity employees resigned from the organization because of the abuses and systemic failures they saw, particularly when it came to policies related to athlete safety and rampant alcohol use. and drugs by athletes in cheerleading competitions.
Webb is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Varsity Brands LLC. He served as president until 2020 after allegations of abuse by Jerry Harris, a former entertainer and coach who rose to fame from the Netflix documentary series “Cheer.”
Harris was convicted of producing child pornography after soliciting videos and images of two 14-year-old boys. He was sentenced to serve 12 years in federal prison.
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A new milestone in the Rockstar allegations
The allegations revealed Thursday represent a significant new milestone in the Rockstar Cheer saga. Although previous legal documents and press releases had alluded to the abuse of several trainers, only Foster, the deceased owner of Rockstar, was identified by name.
Now, the widening investigation has caught others.
“We’re talking about serious and repeated abuse that was reported to everyone, including the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office,” Bakari Sellers, an attorney with the Strom Law Firm, which filed the lawsuit, said in a statement press release sent by email. “For Varsity. Spirit, the USASF and Bain Capital, these survivors did not matter. Their controls did. They did nothing to stop this abuse then and are doing nothing now.”
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office was not actively investigating Foster when he died, according to spokesman Lt. Ryan Flood.
The Department of Homeland Security, which Strom said is conducting its own investigation into Foster, would not confirm or deny such an investigation when reached by The Greenville News, part of the USA TODAY Network.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, RAINN offers support through the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org).