The title of this week’s episode of the ‘Cheer Incorporated’ podcast (Apple, Spotify) fits perfectly with what happened as we were preparing to lock and load the eighth installment of this new format …
Our plan was to air the second half of host Jenn Wood’s interview with Kristen – whose twin sons are victims of so-called “cheerlebrity,” Jerry Harris, the star of Netflix’s documentary hit, Cheer.
Unfortunately, the second half of the interview – which focused on helping sexual abuse survivors navigate the arduous process of coming forward and sharing their stories – was delayed.
What happened? The high-profile litigiousness of Varsity – the behemoth of the American cheerleading industry and a named defendant in multiple federal lawsuits alleging a conspiracy to suppress the child athlete sex abuse scandal.
That’s what happened …
Varsity has retained prominent defamation attorney Thomas A. Clare of the Alexandria, Virginia-based Clare Locke law firm to pursue claims on its behalf related to this still-unfolding story. Clare has already sent a letter (.pdf) to Bakari Sellers – an attorney with the Columbia, S.C.-based Strom Law firm – accusing him and his co-counselors of perpetuating a “false narrative” about the company.
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The flood of lawsuits tied to the culture of sex abuse within the American cheerleading industry began two months ago with the spectacular implosion of Greenville, S.C.-based Rockstar Cheer.
Rockstar became the epicenter of the Cheer Incorporated scandal on August 22, 2022 when its late owner and founder, Scott Foster, died by suicide. The day after Foster’s death hit the news, I reported the 49-year-old coach was staring down “a multi-jurisdictional investigation into (among other things) allegations of sexual misconduct with underage girls.”
We quickly learned it wasn’t just girls. And it wasn’t just Foster. And most importantly … it wasn’t just Rockstar.
An ongoing investigation into allegations against Foster – and other cheer coaches – is being led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s special investigations unit (HSI). As of this writing, no criminal charges have been filed in connection with the case.
“No one expected Varsity was going to just stand at the bottom of the hill waiting to be buried by this coming avalanche,” I noted in the latest episode. “(But) let me make something clear: We are not about to be muzzled.”
That goes for both the podcast and this news outlet …
Cheer Incorporated is written and narrated by Wood – our research director and resident cheer mom – and produced by our director of special projects Dylan Nolan. New episodes drop every Thursday, for those of you new to the format.
Once again, be sure to download and share – and submit a review if you like what you hear. Cheer Incorporated can be found on Apple, Spotify or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.
As always, thanks for listening!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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