Five-time "Dancing with the Stars" pro champion Derek Hough lashed out at media outlets on July 23 amid reports that the Ballas family mistreated him during his formative years in the U.K. The talented and popular 29-year old dancer debunked the rumors via Twitter, calling them "inaccurate... irresponsible, inflammatory and unfair."
The allegations of abuse, which appeared in a July 22 Radar Online article and via several other entertainment outlets, arose from passages taken from Hough's upcoming book that touched on Shirley Ballas' treatment of the aspiring dancer. Entitled "Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion," the highly anticipated volume chronicles his journey from regular kid to Emmy-winning TV star and actor. The book is due to be released on Aug. 5 and is already Amazon's top seller in the ballroom dance genre.
Despite the claims to the contrary made in the article, Hough insisted that ballroom dance legends Corky and Shirley Ballas loved and parented him well during his time under their roof. In fact, he still considers them "family" and dispelled notions that he was abused in any way.
Hough's statement comes as "DWTS" executive producers Joe Sungkur, Ashley Edens-Shaffer, and Rob Wade attempt to put together the professional dance and celebrity cast lists for the series' 19th season, which premieres Sept. 15 on ABC. When Parade asked Hough on July 7 if he planned to return for yet another go at the mirror ball trophy, he said he didn't know, but that he loves taking part in the competition and being part of a show that is "so positive."
Other "DWTS" mainstays have been equally evasive regarding their plans for the fall season. Cheryl Burke, who won seasons two and three with boybander Drew Lachey and NFL star Emmitt Smith and most recently worked with "The Price is Right" host Drew Carey, tweeted on July 14 that she wasn't yet "100% sure" if she'd be back in the ballroom or not.
The rumor mill has remained relatively quiet regarding potential celebrity cast members. The only name consistently in circulation is that of country music super star Shania Twain. "The Walking Dead" alum Vincent M. Ward has also launched a Twitter campaign in hopes of being noticed by producers.
"Dancing with the Stars" season 19 begins Sept. 15. Stay tuned for spoilers and information as it becomes available in the weeks to come.