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Cheer Incorporated

True Crime

Cheer Incorporated exposes the institutional sex abuse scandal unearthed by Rockstar Cheer gym owner Scott Foster’s suicide in late August 2022. As more information surfaced it became apparent that Foster, as well as other coaches, would soon be facing public allegations of sexual abuse of minors. What wasn’t clear initially was that the misbehavior extends to the corporate entities and governing bodies responsible for ensuring the safety of Cheer athletes, and that they would soon be facing allegations of covering up years of sexual abuse to fatten up their bottom lines. Join investigative researcher and cheer mom Jennifer Wood, and FITSNews.com founding editor Will Folks on their journey to shine light in the dark corners of this industry with new episodes premiering every Thursday morning.

Location:

United States

Genres:

True Crime

Description:

Cheer Incorporated exposes the institutional sex abuse scandal unearthed by Rockstar Cheer gym owner Scott Foster’s suicide in late August 2022. As more information surfaced it became apparent that Foster, as well as other coaches, would soon be facing public allegations of sexual abuse of minors. What wasn’t clear initially was that the misbehavior extends to the corporate entities and governing bodies responsible for ensuring the safety of Cheer athletes, and that they would soon be facing allegations of covering up years of sexual abuse to fatten up their bottom lines. Join investigative researcher and cheer mom Jennifer Wood, and FITSNews.com founding editor Will Folks on their journey to shine light in the dark corners of this industry with new episodes premiering every Thursday morning.

Twitter:

@fitsnews

Language:

English


Episodes
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Cheer Sexual Abuse Survivor Interview - Victoria Shares Her Story

1/12/2023
FITSNews director of research Jennifer Wood sits with cheer abuse survivor Victoria. Hear her reflect on the abuse she suffered, how it's changed her life, and why she decided to come forward with her story. This episode marks the end of season one of the Cheer Incorporated podcast, which will return following FITSNews' coverage of Alex Murdaugh's murder trial. We have more great interviews and episodes in production and look forward to season two. Thank you for your support. EP1: Shattered Trust EP 2: A Secret Culture EP 3: Building The Empire EP 4: The Last to Know EP 5: Zero Consequences EP 6: The Groomer's Playbook EP 7: Standing Up Alone - Twins' Mom Kristen Shares Her Story EP 8: Silenced EP 9: The Village EP 10: The Why EP 11: Army of Enablers EP 12: Our Hands Are Tied EP 13: Twins' Mom Interview Pt 2: A Path Forward EP 14: Cheer Attorney Amy Gaffney Interview EP 15: Carolina to California: More Allegations of Abuse

Duration:00:52:47

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Carolina to California - More Allegations of Abuse

1/5/2023
The Cheer Incorporated scandal landed on the west coast following the filing of a federal lawsuit in the central district of California – the latest formal allegations tied to the culture of sex abuse within the American cheerleading industry. This episode of Cheer Incorporated breaks the latest allegations down - and delves into the inner working of cheer industry governing bodies which have been alleged to have failed to prevent the abuse of minor athletes in a growing number of states. EP1: Shattered Trust EP 2: A Secret Culture EP 3: Building The Empire EP 4: The Last to Know EP 5: Zero Consequences EP 6: The Groomer's Playbook EP 7: Standing Up Alone - Twins' Mom Kristen Shares Her Story EP 8: Silenced EP 9: The Village EP 10: The Why EP 11: Army of Enablers EP 12: Our Hands Are Tied EP 13: Twins' Mom Interview Pt 2: A Path Forward Ep 14: Cheer Attorney Amy Gaffney Interview

Duration:00:23:27

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Legal Drama Escalates - Cheer Attorney Amy Gaffney Interview

12/22/2022
The Cheer Incorporated team traveled to Charleston S.C. to speak with employment attorney Amy Gaffney about her role in recent Cheer sexual abuse lawsuits. Gaffney's insights into the Ohio suit, as well as her ability to provide a defense attorney's perspective on the pending litigation, make this conversation one you won't want to miss.

Duration:00:19:21

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A Path Forward: Twins’ Mom Kristen Gives Cheer Abuse Victims Advice

12/15/2022
The Cheer Incorporated podcast production team had the pleasure of speaking with “The Twins’ Mom” Kristen in late October, 2022. Kristen’s sons are victims of so-called “cheerlebrity,” Jerry Harris. In our first conversation with Kristen she recounted her and her son's story of standing up - even when that meant standing up alone. In this episode she shares advice for current survivors, as well as her opinion on where the cheerleading industry must go to right its systemic wrongs. Kristen has generously offered her support to survivors and their loved ones. She can be reached on Twitter @_kristenerika_ Previous Episodes: EP1: Shattered Trust EP 2: A Secret Culture EP 3: Building The Empire EP 4: The Last to Know EP 5: Zero Consequences EP 6: The Groomer's Playbook EP 7: Standing Up Alone - Twins' Mom Kristen Shares Her Story EP 8: Silenced EP 9: The Village EP 10: The Why EP 11: Army of Enablers

Duration:00:57:38

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"Our Hands Are Tied"

12/8/2022
In this episode of Cheer Incorporated host Jennifer Wood and producer Dylan Nolan dig into the recently filed Ohio lawsuit, detailing both the allegations of abuse that follow the pattern set forth in previous suits, as well as cheer industry governing body USASF's response, which initially seemed appropriate - but devolved when attorneys were brought into the mix. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement at the end of this week's show.

Duration:00:51:02

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Army of Enablers

12/1/2022
Please Note: This episode contains graphic content that may be disturbing or traumatizing to some audiences. Listener discretion is advised. In this episode the we dig further into the enabling culture exemplified by the harrowing stories of new victims in new states. Sound familiar? Almost formulaic? This is one of the key dynamics of the Cheer Incorporated scandal … a culture which refuses to take credible allegations of abuse seriously and then refuses to hold abusers accountable even when there is clear and compelling evidence of their conduct. This is why my ongoing conversation with Professor Amos Guiora is so vital. Because when you hear the phrase, “No action was taken”, that is the definition of enabling behavior.

Duration:00:26:26

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The Why

11/24/2022
I recently read the book Armies of Enablers: Survivor Stories of Complicity and Betrayal in Sexual Assaults by Professor Amos Guiora. Professor Guiora teaches law at the University of Utah. Armies of Enablers encompasses his extensive research on institutional complicity, enabling culture, and sexual assaults. What I loved the most about this book is that it was written from the perspective of the survivors of sexual assault. I was elated when Professor Guiora agreed to be a guest on Cheer Incorporated. Because after reading his book and learning about his groundbreaking research, I strongly believe he may have found that common factor — or maybe more aptly the fatal flaw– that we are missing as a society to better protect our child athletes. He may have found the “why” - which is the key to finally stopping the cycle of abuse. Or at least slowing it down.

Duration:00:40:40

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The Village

11/17/2022
“It takes a village.” As a parent, I developed a greater understanding of the implied trust we place in other parents - a truly sacred trust which holds that they are watching out for your kids as much as you are watching out for their kids. The systemic failures of the cheerleading industry have shaken my trust. Does the industry just not care? Or is enabling abusers simply too profitable? In this episode we delve into who the USASF hired to "minimize the risk of child sexual abuse and misconduct."

Duration:00:21:39

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Bye Week

11/10/2022
The Cheer Incorporated team has been Murdaughed ... for those of you who aren't FITSNews core audience members, allow me to explain. This expansive case involves Alex Murdaugh, a disgraced and disbarred attorney from a small town called Hampton, South Carolina, was indicted in July for the murder of his 52 year old wife, Maggie Murdaugh and 22 year old son, Paul Murdaugh at their home on June 7, 2021. The brutal murders alone would have made headlines, but the web of crime and corruption that started unraveling in the aftermath elevated the story to new heights. As of today, Alex Murdaugh has been indicted on 90 separate charges and accused of stealing almost $9 million dollars from his clients over the past 15 years. This week, the first criminal trial tied to this long running story kicked off in US District Court in Charleston, South Carolina when the trial of alleged Murdaugh co-conspirator and former CEO of Palmetto State Bank began. Federal prosecutors in the office of U.S. attorney Adair Ford Boroughs began laying out their case against disgraced former banker Russell Laffitte, who is accused of being a key cog in Alex Murdaugh’s many financial fleecings of former clients. Laffitte is facing one conspiracy count, one count of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud and three counts of misapplication of bank funds in connection with his alleged role in the scandal. The 51-year-old Hampton, S.C. native is also facing multiple criminal conspiracy charges at the state level. I’d give you a full recap, but if you aren’t familiar I can assure you that a 30 second elevator pitch will never cover the absolute madness of the Murdaugh case. If you love true crime and wild cases, trust me when I say you want to check out our YouTube Channel and/or the FITSNews Week in Review podcast available on iTunes and Spotify to catch up. Now… I bet you are wondering why we are talking about Murdaugh and not cheer? Because our Producer, Dylan Nolan is in Charleston attending the hearings in person while Will and I are holding the fort down in Columbia. As talented as Will and I pretend to be, we rely on our producer, Dylan Nolan for all things technical and I promise you do not want to hear a podcast that we threw together without him! We will be back next week with more new episodes and may even have some exciting news to share!

Duration:00:03:16

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Silenced

11/3/2022
Last week, this podcast shared the first part of our host Jenn Wood’s amazing interview with Kristen - the mother of twin boys who are survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated by Jerry Harris, one of the stars of the hit Netflix show, Cheer. We had intended to air the second half of that interview today but we’ve delayed that so we can turn our attention to some interesting legal moves by Tennessee-based Varsity. This episode is going to be one you won’t want to miss...

Duration:00:21:33

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Standing Up Alone - Twins' Mom Kristen Shares Her Story

10/27/2022
Cheer Incorporated speaks with Kristen, the mother of the victims of Jerry Harris. Harris was propelled into superstardom by Netflix’s hit show, Cheer. In July 2022 - a month before Foster’s suicide - Harris was sentenced to twelve years in prison for soliciting sex from minors and coaxing them into sending him obscene images and videos. When we first began covering the Cheer Incorporated story, Kristen reached out to me via Twitter. She offered me perspective, insight, and kind words. But she offered something else - something truly selfless. She offered to speak with any survivors or parents of survivors who needed support. When Kristen kindly agreed to share her family’s story for this podcast, I was moved beyond words because I realized this is what a true advocate does … Kristens story speaks to the culture of sexual misconduct that has run rampant in the cheer industry, and is inspiring to other survivors who are just beginning to walk down the trail she blazed.

Duration:01:02:21

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The Groomer's Playbook

10/18/2022
In this episode of Cheer Incorporated we follow the money as we ask why this isn't already a national news story. We then dig into the lawsuits and discover that many of the allegations fit the "groomer's playbook." Finally - we address the Varsity president's statement regarding the allegations, reiterating our open microphone policy while contesting some of his claims.

Duration:00:34:21

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Zero Consequences

10/11/2022
Cheer Incorporated explores how loopholes and legal entities have been exploited for years to allow individuals with blatant misconduct in their past to continue to have access to children.

Duration:00:33:55

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The Last To Know

10/4/2022
Cheer Incorporated speaks exclusively to one of the mothers of the lawsuit filed in Federal court last week. In this heart wrenching interview, Mary Doe tells the story of how her son was victimized by a coach they trusted and in the aftermath, failed by a flawed system.

Duration:00:40:57

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Building The Empire

9/27/2022
Hear from a survivor for the first time and explore the origins of modern cheer and the Varsity empire.

Duration:00:30:09

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A Secret Culture

9/20/2022
The Cheer Incorporated team visited attorneys from the Strom law firm to hear firsthand how their lawsuit is exposing the cheer industry's secret culture.

Duration:00:30:17

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Shattered Trust

9/13/2022
This news outlet is launching a new format dedicated to amplifying our ongoing coverage of the Rockstar Cheer revulsion - a scandal of escalating proportion which has its point of origin in the socially conservative Upstate region of South Carolina. This is one of the most important stories our news outlet is ever going to cover ... and like the 'Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga, I want to make sure we are covering it right. The new format to which I am referring is called Cheer Incorporated - a podcast written and produced by myself, research director Jenn Wood and director of special projects Dylan Nolan. Narrated by Wood and directed by Nolan, Cheer Incorporated takes listeners inside the alleged "factory of abuse” functioning just under the surface of the cheerleading industry in the United States. "As a mom, this story is more personal to me than most,” Wood said. "Our primary role as parents is to protect our kids and we often rely on organizations like Varsity, U.S. All Star Federation and USA Cheer to help us ensure our kids are safe doing something they love. To see the glaring failures of these organizations when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of millions of kids is one of the most frightening revelations I’ve ever had as a mother.” "Speaking with survivors who are the same age as my daughter is truly heartbreaking,” Wood continued. "Then to learn that the individuals in charge seemingly prioritized profit over the safety of millions of children - I was disgusted.” For most people - including this author - the Cheer Incorporated scandal began on August 22, 2022 when 49-year-old Scott Foster died by suicide in his vehicle at Paris Mountain state park just north of Greenville. At the time of his death, Foster was the focus of a criminal investigation into multiple allegations of alleged sexual misconduct. That inquiry is ongoing – and is being led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s special investigations unit (HSI) with support from the Greenville County sheriff’s office. As I have noted from the very beginning of this story, the Rockstar scandal “involves allegation of systemic corruption and cover-ups potentially involving some of the most visible and venerated institutions in the cheering industry.” Our goal is to expose that corrupt system - and those coverups - while allowing those who survived it to tell their stories on their own terms. “We have an obligation to doggedly pursue this story because it isn’t a one off,” Nolan said. "Scott Foster wasn’t a lone wolf, and there are plenty of people who’d sooner let wolves like Foster in with the sheep than risk losing profit or social standing. We’re going to shine a light on how this situation was allowed to happen and encourage listeners to think long and hard about the incentives motivating those they seemingly can trust.”

Duration:00:24:13