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National governing body says Fargo cheer gym facing investigation – InForum

FARGO — The head of the national governing body for sport cheering said an investigation is underway involving a local cheer gym.

The probe involves North Dakota Elite, a cheer and tumbling gym at 758 34th St. N. in Fargo, confirmed by Lauri Harris, executive director of USA Cheer.

Chelsea Hermanson, who owns North Dakota Elite, told The Forum on Wednesday, March 16, the investigation has to do with a male coach who is no longer on staff.

The action or behavior in question was not “illegal,” Hermanson said, but is alleged to have been “non-compliant” with USA Cheer policies.

Under USA Cheer Safe Sport Code, there are policies against abuse or misconduct that is sexual, physical or emotional, or that involves bullying, threats, harassment or hazing.

Also included are policies to reduce the risk of potential abuse in situations that involve one-on-one interactions, electronic communications, travel, locker rooms, restrooms and changing rooms.

The Fargo Police Department said it is not investigating any current or former employees of North Dakota Elite Cheer, nor is it aware of any investigation by another agency, a department spokesperson said.

Harris said she could not comment on a “third-party investigation” and referred inquiries to USA Cheer’s publicly-available database of people who are either suspended or permanently ineligible for membership.

People whose names appear on the list are ruled ineligible through investigation by USA Cheer, affiliated organizations and/or law enforcement, Harris said.

The database does not appear to list any members from North Dakota. A person from the Minneapolis area is listed in a case that dates back nearly 10 years.

While USA Cheer governs sport cheering, the U.S. All Star Federation, or USASF, is the national governing body for all star cheerleading and dance.

The two agencies collaborate on the list of people who are ineligible for membership.

Hermanson would not comment further on the investigation but did share an email she sent to families of children who are enrolled at North Dakota Elite.

It reads, in part:

“An anonymous statement was sent to our governing body regarding accusations against one of our former coaches. Though as a program we are frustrated with continued conversation on this topic, we take athlete protection very seriously and as stated, the coach is no longer with North Dakota Elite,” the statement read.

Hermanson went on to say, “As a program we go through extensive training each season to comply with our governing body’s Safe Sport guidelines, and that includes extensive online and hands-on training and background checks, which give us the ‘green light’ as coaches and a program.”