Parents, athletes, and coaches allege abusive behavior, missing money, and a disregard for safety, stretching back to Roth’s time at Wheat Ridge high school
After reporting in July 2023 on the accusations against Erie high school cheer coach Nora Roth, Yellow Scene Magazine (YS) was contacted by additional sources who also alleged inappropriate behavior. YS interviews revealed allegations of missing money, verbal abuse, and a disregard for athletes’ safety that stretch back ten years to Roth’s time at Wheat Ridge high school in 2013.
YS spoke with more than a dozen additional people since first reporting on the incident, bringing the total we have contacted to over 20 individuals. They claim they have been victims of Roth’s behavior over the past decade. The list includes former Erie cheerleaders and parents, former Wheat Ridge cheerleaders and parents, and local coaches.
What emerged was a reported pattern of belittling language, body shaming, and injuries, both physical and mental. Due to the personal nature of the details shared and events occurring when many sources were minors, most names have been changed to help protect the identities of those involved. Many former athletes and coaches expressed fear of retaliation for speaking out.
The Dacono Police Department confirmed that they responded to a call placed by Roth against Jennifer — name changed — a parent who submitted statements about Roth’s behavior to St. Vrain Valley School District. YS spoke to the responding officer who confirmed that his interaction with Jennifer was positive.
SVVSD — which Erie high school is a member of — responded to YS request for comment or any additional information by stating that “the district cannot comment on confidential personnel matters.” SVVSD continued: “If additional witnesses have come forward with evidence of abuse or criminal conduct, please direct them to law enforcement and the district, and we will continue to investigate everything thoroughly, as we have with each complaint.”
Trigger warning: Suicide, eating disorders, and mental health issues are all mentioned below.
Mental health effects
“I developed so much anxiety from getting bullied by these girls. I would have breakdowns, and I had to go to therapy. Actually, my senior year of high school, after I quit cheerleading, I ended up having a suicide attempt.” Gigi Bergh, a former Erie cheerleader, opened up to YS about the harassment, abuse, and lack of leadership she experienced under Roth.
Acknowledging the complexity of this all, Bergh expanded on the reasons behind her shifting mental health. “There was a lot of other stuff going on too, but I do feel like had she [Coach Roth] done something [to stop the bullying], it wouldn’t have affected me as much. I’m not blaming just her.” Bergh clarified that Roth did not cause her suicide attempt but the culture of the team contributed to unhealthy mental behaviors.
The culture of the team was said to be unhealthy. “It was always a screaming match between her or someone else,” McKenna Harr, former Wheat Ridge cheerleader, said. “I was so confused as to why it happened, I didn’t have a way to understand it. I kept being bullied by her during practices that I developed depression.” When Harr recalled her experience with Coach Roth at Wheat Ridge, nearly a decade prior, she believed that Roth was young but nonetheless “was honing her abuse.”
Former Erie cheerleader Courtney Giordano, a source for our previous reporting, told YS that Roth would, “talk about (her) boyfriends in an inappropriate manner, which is not appropriate for any adult dealing with a child.”
“I was told that I couldn’t eat a granola bar during a football game because people might see me, and that’s not the ‘cheerleading image’ she’s going for. There was a lot of body talk. And I eventually developed an eating disorder,” said Emma Barrow, a former Erie cheerleader.
Santina — name changed for anonymity — whose child cheered at Wheat Ridge under Coach Roth, told YS that the accusations in Erie sounded familiar: “Practically verbatim, you know, that’s happened in Wheat Ridge.” The negative experiences with Coach Roth forever changed her daughter’s life. She stated Roth killed any joy her daughter once had for the sport.
After reading the YS report, Carol — name changed — who’s child cheered at Wheat Ridge under Roth, stated: “I was immediately just sad because it’s like, she [Roth] didn’t change, and the school didn’t recognize it. You could switch out Wheat Ridge high school with Erie and it would be the same experience.”
Carol recalled that not every Wheat Ridge parent was in favor of removing Roth. “It was really interesting because the parents were divided, it was right in the middle. So half of us are like what is going on? This needs to change.”
Culture of toxicity
Many of Roth’s former athletes provided allegations that, beginning in Wheat Ridge high school and continuing at Erie high school, Roth frequently commented on the size, appearance, and weight of the girls she was coaching. These comments apparently extended well beyond the typical conditioning and athletic talk that coaches and athletes may have from time to time.
“We had a team dinner one time, and Nora commented on the food I was eating.” Laura, a former Erie cheerleader whose name has been changed, shared. “I began to develop disordered eating. I would engage in restriction, binging, and purging of my food, I would take laxatives and chew an excess amount of gum in hopes to satiate my hunger. I obsessively tracked my calories on MyFitnessPal. It was not just me who would engage in these behaviors as well. Many of my friends on the team would talk about doing similar things. We would discuss methods of restriction and share diets and workouts, thinking that we were helping each other.” Laura elaborated in a written statement.
“Certain girls she went after. The fat shaming thing happened to a couple of girls that made them leave the team,” Santina said.
“She was picking on her a lot about her body weight,“ said Josephina — name changed for anonymity “… It got to a point where my daughter… I started to take her to therapy because she was stressed out and having a lot of anxiety, and she started having eating issues,”
The comments did not end with the girls’ physical appearance. Many of the people YS spoke to alleged that Roth’s actions were abusive.
“She would constantly belittle these girls, [saying things] like you are fat. You’re not going to make my team next year because you look ugly. Your hair color is wrong, just really inappropriate things,” recalled Juniper —name changed for anonymity — a parent of a former Wheat Ridge cheerleader.
Barrow shared that Roth crossed other lines as well. Roth got “like a little bit too close to them [the cheerleaders] like, talking about sex lives.”
One coach, Vanessa — name changed for anonymity — who previously worked alongside Roth, shared a statement with YS that reads in part: “I believe that Nora Roth can have significant and harmful effects on a young woman’s personal and athletic development.” She expanded that Roth, “is obscenely rude, [and] verbally abusive in her written and spoken words regarding athletes, administration, parents and other coaches.”
“She is an anti-coach”
“We were really excited to have a coach that was, you know, promised to get us to a higher level,” Harr recalled. Roth did find competitive success with each team she coached, both at Wheat Ridge and Erie. “We were actually getting results, like, we went from the bottom end of the state, to qualifying first for our final competitions,” Harr recalled.
However, Kinsley, a former Wheat Ridge cheerleader — name changed for anonymity — said, “I would not recommend her. The reason why they’re winning nationals is because of the girls, because they’re competent cheerleaders. It’s nothing to do with her [Coach Roth].”
Some said they began to feel Roth was operating with a “win at all costs” mentality.
One of the more troubling examples alleged about Roth’s behavior occurred at a Nationals competition in Florida while the team was on their way to a scheduled cheer activity.
“My friend ended up unexpectedly getting her period. She asked me to go back to the hotel to, you know, grab what she needed, like a pair of shorts. [Roth] straight up told her no, we’re gonna be late. You can’t go back.” Harr recalled. Juniper as well as another Wheat Ridge source confirmed this recollection of the incident.
Teammates provided the girl with clean shorts, but the incident stunned parents and athletes alike.
This was the tipping point for Juniper, who approached the school administration alongside several other Wheat Ridge cheer families. They scheduled meetings with the administration and brought accusations of abusive language, lack of supervision, and the Nationals incident as some of the specific reasons to remove Roth.
“Finally, five different families went in and talked to the principal, and then she was fired the next day,” Juniper said. Carol also recalled this incident to YS.
Results came at a price, Harr explained: “We were pushed to our limits. Pushing past the point of exhaustion and from what I remember, I look back at that time as being super draining … there were so many injuries that it was really an issue.”
Multiple former Erie and Wheat Ridge athletes told YS that injuries could be prevented and were not taken seriously under Roth.
One specific incident stuck out in the minds of the former Wheat Ridge cheerleaders on a Nationals trip out of state. “They were doing a warm-up, and she [a cheerleader] did a tumble pass and fell to the ground and blacked out. The paramedics came to her, and she was [temporarily] paralyzed,” a Wheat Ridge parent stated to YS. Kinsley also recalled this event.
Accidents, even as scary as this one, happen in sports as dangerous as cheerleading. However, the incident revealed another issue. “She [the injured cheerleader] was supposed to be on strict bed rest the rest of the trip. Well, she [Roth] didn’t have enough chaperones to keep her in the room.”
Juniper said that instead of following doctor’s orders for bed rest, Roth forced the injured girl to join the team activities. “The girls had to find her a wheelchair. She was in so much pain,” Juniper remembered.
It was not just at Nationals that injuries, and a reportedly inadequate response from Roth, occurred.
“I don’t know if she just didn’t know how to properly spot, but she didn’t train us properly to spot, because [NAME REDACTED], oh my gosh, I feel worried about her. I don’t know how many times she fell. And at one point, she hurt her back, it was so bad. And instead of taking responsibility, she [Roth] sat us down and yelled at us while [NAME REDACTED] was laying there in pain,” Harr said.
Bergh recalled numerous incidents that led to injuries. “Nora would also want us to perform tumbling and other skills that many of us were afraid of attempting. When we would express our fear or hesitation, she would become angry or belittle us. She pushed us to attempt it. Sometimes it worked, but other times it would leave us with injuries.”
“I got a hip injury,” said Octavia, a former Erie cheerleader — name changed. “… I wasn’t supposed to be running or anything on it. But she [Roth] told me that if I wanted to be a part of the team then I had to act like it. So even though I was not supposed to be doing anything on my hip, she would still have me do all of the conditioning and whatnot with the team.”
Almost every Wheat Ridge and Erie cheer parent YS spoke with alleged financial irregularities. Accusations range from poor accounting practices to outright theft.
“She tried a couple of times to get us to pay twice,” Juniper said. There were constant fundraisers, but no new uniforms materialized, and costs of the cheer program were not lowered through these fundraisers, according to Ophelia, a former Erie cheer parent whose name has been changed.
There were numerous fundraisers held with the promise to reduce the cost of participating in the cheer program. “I never saw a cent of fundraising money,” said Josephina. When asked by YS if they had an idea of where the funds were going, Josephina replied: “No. I mean, as far as I can tell, no. Everybody was paying full.”
SVVSD did not provide an answer to questions about the Athletic Department’s finances. Dozens of concerned parents and coaches submitted statements to SVVSD, some asking for an audit in order to learn where the money raised went, but have not received clarifying information.
YS was sent a copy of a statement sent to SVVSD that, as of publishing, had not received clarification from the school district. You can view some redacted statements here which read in part: “I have witnessed her behavior first hand. I personally felt her cruelty and watched it directed toward children, parents, and other coaches. She has defrauded and stolen money from me directly.” It goes on: “As such, I no longer believe she is capable of being entrusted with either the safeguarding of minors, or the finances of the cheer program.”
The police get involved
On Wednesday June 5th, 2023, the Erie Police Department responded to a report of theft regarding missing finances Roth allegedly took. YS obtained the incident report via a public records request.
School Resource Officer Thoen responded to the call and wrote that “After speaking to Chad [Erie high school Athletic Director] and reviewing the information I had at the time, I didn’t have any probable cause of criminal activity and there would be an ongoing investigation handled by the school.”
The report goes on to state that “[SVVSD human resources] gave us a summary of their investigation thus far and advised they have no concerns about any of the financial claims.” Additionally, the report noted, “Chad continued to tell me there has been no other financial complaints reported against Nora from anyone, ever.”
After speaking with the school administrators, Officer Thoen contacted Roth.
“I did not question Nora about any of the financial claims reported since I had previously discussed these issues with school officials and they had no concerns about Nora and financials,” Officer Thoen wrote.
Thoen’s report concludes: “On 07/05/2023 I received an email from Erie High School Principal Josh Griffin stating after their interview with Nora there was no new information and no new financial concerns.”
Child pornography report
The Erie Police Department was involved again on June 26th, 2023, when a message sent to Safe2Tell claimed that Roth possessed child pornography in the form of a video of a high school cheerleader in a shower.
Officer Figueroa continued “According to the report, these pictures/videos are used to manipulate the minor in question” Erie police department contacted the family of the minor and spoke with them regarding the Safe2Tell message.
Officer Figueroa was told by the family that “[NAME REDACTED] was at cheer camp with a few girls who she grew up with. While at camp, [NAME REDACTED] was taking a shower when the girls decided to play a prank on her. They did so by removing [NAME REDACTED] large towels and clothing, only leaving her with hand towels and a wash cloth. When [NAME REDACTED] got out of the shower, she used the hand towels and wash cloth to cover her chest and lower privates.”
On a later date, Officer Figueroa wrote: “It was at this time [NAME REDACTED] told me about the prank, where a student was getting out of the shower and the seniors, at the direction of the coach, had taken her clothes and towel. [NAME REDACTED] said Nora asked to have the picture or video to be sent to her. [NAME REDACTED] said her daughter thought it was funny and wasn’t aware of Nora utilizing the photo in an inappropriate manner.
Officer Figueroa then asked the family about issues that had been raised to the school district. “I asked [NAME REDACTED] to describe Nora as a coach and she told me Nora can be hard on them but felt there was a lot of pressure on the athletes and Nora, since they’ve won State five times in a row. [NAME REDACTED] said Nora pushes them hard, but nothing she felt like was out of the ordinary. [NAME REDACTED] said there isn’t anything about Nora which raises a “red flag” in any way.”
Regarding missing money, the report stated that “I asked [NAME REDACTED] and [NAME REDACTED] if they ever paid Nora for something and never received their items. They expressed they had not. To their knowledge, all the funds have gone where they needed to go.”
Roth was contacted at her home by Officers Thoen and Figueroa. Roth voluntarily gave her phone to the police and officers found no compromising photos of minors.
When asked if Roth was a tough coach, the report states that Roth told the Officers: “Hard to say as a coach, because in realty [sic] am I tough [sic] coach? Yeah, my team is very talented. Are there times I have to crack down on them yes, they’re teenage girls, their main goal in life is to manipulate you. If I’m being honest with you. But if you were to talk to any other kid on my team, they would tell you I have nothing but love for them.”
Figueroa concluded the report: “I advised Nora at this point of the investigation I did not have enough to proceed with any charges and that the case pertaining to the photo accusation, would be closed out. I further explained that the school would continue to conduct their own internal investigation, which I had no involvement with.
Both claims of theft and child porn were reported to be unfounded by the Erie Police Department.
Role of the School District
Despite promises of a thorough internal investigation, parents say they have been left feeling unsatisfied with SVVSD’s replies. Several parents said that they do not feel comfortable with their children around Roth until they know why she was cleared of wrongdoing by the district.
“I’m concerned with any underage kid being around her. She is a horrible influence. She’s not a good person at all, and it’s scary to have her around children,” Juniper expressed.
Vanessa shared her experiences coaching with Roth at Erie high school. “The work environment at Erie HS was one of toxicity, negative behavior, lies upon lies to parents and athletes [that] were beyond acceptable.”
Kaia — a former Wheat Ridge cheerleader whose name has been changed — recalled the nature of Coach Roth’s relationship with her athletes: “Looking back, with the perspective I have … that’s not how I would interact with high school children of any age. Not in the sense of anything illegal, but socially it was a very inappropriate relationship.”
Roth provided a response to the allegations via her attorney. The statements reads: “In the face of continued baseless, vague, and largely anonymous allegations, Ms. Roth reiterates her prior position – she is proud of her continued work to support and grow student-athletes. Many of the allegations repeated now were previously addressed in a full and fair investigation both by the Saint Vrain Valley School District and the Erie Police Department and determined to be unfounded.”
Roth’s attorney also wrote that seven people were willing to attest to the quality of Roth’s character, but as of publishing YS has not been contacted by anyone.
If you would like to share any additional information about these allegations please email email@example.com
If you or anyone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please talk to someone and reach out to the following organizations:
National suicide prevention hotline – 1-800-273-8255
Mental Health Partners Crisis Service – Dial 988