GREENVILLE — Five former Rockstar Cheer and Dance coaches and a nationally known trainer named in a federal lawsuit have been suspended by competitive cheerleading’s governing body, according to a list published by the organization.
The trainer is Kenny Feeley, a former assistant cheer coach at Clemson University who now runs an international company, Spring CDT. The company’s website said he sits on the education committee of the U.S. All Star Federation, the governing body.
On Sept. 20, the USASF updated its public online list of ineligible coaches to include Feeley. He is described as event organizer and listed with a “suspension from national governing body.” The suspension is temporary.
The other coaches named as defendants in the federal lawsuit against Rockstar also were suspended, pending the litigation's outcome. They are Peter Holley, Traevon Black, Josh Guyton and Nathan Plank.
A fifth former Rockstar coach named in the lawsuit, Christopher Hinton, already was listed as permanently banned.
The list includes coaches who have “been found to have engaged in — or are alleged to have engaged in — forms of misconduct that present a potential risk to other members of the All Star Cheer & Dance Community,” the USASF page says.
The federal lawsuit alleges sexual abuse by Rockstar co-founder Scott Foster and the other coaches at the once-elite cheerleading facility in Greenville. The lawsuit was filed Sept. 1 and expanded Sept. 15 to include Feeley and the coaches.
Attorney Bakari Sellers of the Columbia-based Strom Law Firm filed the complaint.
“For the people we represent, this suspension is well overdue,” Sellers said. “But in our effort to help clean up the industry, it’s a good step.”
The scandal erupted after Foster died by suicide on Aug. 22 in his vehicle at Paris Mountain State Park. The 49-year-old had learned he was the target of a federal investigation, the lawsuit states.
His wife, Kathy Foster, then shuttered Rockstar indefinitely on Sept. 7, sending its athletes scrambling to find new facilities while dealing with his death and the ensuing flow of abuse allegations.
The federal lawsuit calls Feeley one of Foster’s protégés. Both men were cheerleaders at the University of Louisville.
Feeley, who was never a Rockstar Cheer employee, was brought in as an outside trainer several times over the past 20 years, his spokeswoman said.
Among the plaintiffs, one alleges that when she was 16, her cheerleading team stayed in a hotel for a competition. Foster arranged for multiple people to stay in a single room. Among them was Feeley, who allegedly climbed into bed with the teenager, then groped and fondled her, the lawsuit states.
Afterward, Foster arranged for Feeley to give the teen a private lesson, the lawsuit states. Instead of training, the complaint alleges that Feeley took the teenager to his apartment, gave her marijuana and alcohol, then drove her to another location where she was sexually assaulted.
Feeley and his family released a statement, noting that he vigorously denied the "unsubstantiated" accusations.
"We are dismayed and frankly stunned by these accusations, and to be clear, the claim is categorically false," the written statement said. It emphasized that Feeley "has always, and will always conduct himself with integrity and professionalism."
In separate allegations, another plaintiff contends that when she was 13, Plank groped her and sent her nude photographs and videos of himself masturbating, the lawsuit states. When the same accuser was 14, the complaint alleges, Hinton invited her to watch a movie, then forced her to perform oral sex.
Yet another plaintiff accuses Guyton of luring her to his bedroom and touching her in a sexual manner, the lawsuit states.
Another accuses Holley and Black of pressuring him to send them nude photographs, the complaints states.
The plaintiffs, who are not named, mark only the beginning in a storm of allegations, Sellers and other lawyers have said. Sellers said his firm alone has received more than 100 calls from people describing sexual abuse spanning multiple states. He said he is planning other suits in North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia.
In addition to Rockstar Cheer and the Fosters, the lawsuit names USASF and Varsity Spirit among defendants and details an alleged nationwide civil racketeering conspiracy.
Varsity is the sport’s dominant commercial organization. Together, the defendants control nearly all of the competitive cheer industry and the roughly 4 million athletes who compete in it. That includes lucrative memberships, merchandise, clinics, camps and competitions.
Varsity-sponsored competitions draw young athletes and their adult coaches, choreographers and gym owners to events around the country. The events expose young athletes to “drugs, alcohol, and predatory conduct by adults” while making profits off them, the lawsuit contends.
Several years ago, the USASF suspended Foster after a social media post showed him in what appears to be a bedroom with underage athletes on his teams consuming alcohol while he filmed it on his cellphone. He continued to coach minors and was never barred from Varsity events, the lawsuit says.
Even after Varsity and USASF “received numerous reports and allegations” regarding inappropriate behavior by Foster and other coaches, they disregarded them, the lawsuit contends. It describes coaches around the country charged with sexual abuse who continued to have access to Varsity events — and underage athletes.
has always, and will always conduct himself with integrity and professionalism,