A growing number of lawsuits have been filed against cheerleading gyms and coaches nationwide.
Earlier this month, 21 cheerleaders across 7 states filed sex abuse lawsuits against coaches, choreographers, gym owners, and gymnastics organizations for covering up the abuse.
The lawsuit describes a culture of sexual abuse, drugs, and pornography in competitive cheerleading.
One of the plaintiffs was just 15 years old when she said a coach at her gym gave her drugs and alcohol and had sex with her.
She filed a report with U.S. All Star Federation (USASF), the governing body of competitive cheerleading. She said officials were skeptical of her claims, and she described it as a “deeply traumatizing and unsettling process.”
The plaintiffs include girls and boys in California, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and South Carolina who were sexually abused, sent nude photos, and given drugs and alcohol by coaches or other adults. Some said they reported the abuse, but were ignored.
Other recent lawsuits allege racketeering within competitive cheerleading organizations, such as a 71-page lawsuit filed last year in Tennessee by 102 plaintiffs against Varsity Spirit, U.S. All Star Federation, USA Federation of Sport Cheerleading, and its investors.
One of the most famous gyms, Rockstar Cheer and Dance, has been closed since September 2022 after yet another lawsuit accused the owner, Scott Foster, of sexually abusing several minors and letting other coaches do the same.
Male and female students accused Foster and other coaches of sexually abusing them in multiple states while traveling for cheerleading competitions. Under investigation by federal officials, Foster committed suicide on August 2022.
As of January 2023, at least 13 anonymous male and female ex-students have filed against Foster’s estate and top cheerleading organizations.
USASF has refused to comment on specific allegations in the lawsuits because the national organization is a defendant in many, if not all, of the lawsuits that have been filed so far.