MECHANICSVILLE, Md. — During a USA Today investigation, it was revealed that one of the most popular celebrities in cheerleading, Jerry Harris, broke the sport’s child protection policies. The report detailed allegations which led to one of cheerleading’s governing entities banning over 140 coaches and athletes who were accused of misconduct.

As the investigation went on, they suspended North Carolina gym owner Nicholas Sweeney for misconduct. Sweeney supposedly took photos of athletes and told one of them to take care of her underwear when changing into a uniform. In an email to parents, the U.S. All-Star Federation(USASF) told Sweeney they would prohibit him from coaching.

Although Sweeney denied any wrongdoing, parents continued to email other supporting evidence such as photos and evidence that tells another story. Now, Sweeney is permanently banned from the sport.

“I stopped coaching all my teams. I stopped coaching classes. I have not done anything in the gym with any USASF athletes,” Sweeney said according to USA Today.

However, Sweeney had been working with Freedom Athletics as a coach, which raised questions and concerns from parents. Parents are questioning whether Freedom Athletics is registered under the USASF because of their permanent ban on the coach. Also, parents are concerned for the safety of their children since USASF does not ban coaches unless they have found evidence of serious misconduct.

Freedom Athletics and one of its promoters, Melissa Goshorn, refused to leave any comments on the situation. However, in a social media post, Goshorn addressed what she called “rumors and misinformation” that she said other members of the community had started about Freedom Athletics.

“Freedom Athletics is offering a TUMBLING program in Calvert County and a Competition Rec program (as well as tumbling) in Mechanicsville,” Goshorn explained. “USASF is an OPTIONAL organization for All-Star Cheer and All-Star Dance. It is only ONE option for All-Star cheerleading. Freedom Athletics has NO REASON to be ‘registered’ or ‘affiliated’ with USASF.”

Following the outcry on social media over the situation, Goshorn said in her post that Sweeney has decided to “step away from Freedom Athletics” to preserve the opportunity for a legitimate tumbling program in Calvert County.

To learn more about Freedom Athletics, check out www.freedomathletics.org. If you want to know more about the parents’ perspective, check out the original Facebook post by clicking here.

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