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Suing for Cheerleader Abuse in California

Suing for Cheerleader Abuse in CaliforniaCheerleaders are among the purest symbols of the American dream. These talented young athletes are capable of impressive gymnastic feats, and what was once an informal extra-curricular activity has now evolved into a respected and demanding athletic pursuit in its own right. Professional cheerleaders today draw in many spectators, compete in regular tournaments, and may earn an average salary while performing at various pro sports events in the United States. For many California students, however, cheerleading simply represents an opportunity to have some fun.

Unfortunately, shocking reports from across the country show that many of these cheerleaders are being preyed upon by negligent and criminal predators behind the scenes. Various lawsuits have emerged, and it has become clear that many of our youngest students have suffered serious sexual abuse, harassment, and assault by adults. Whether you have experienced this firsthand or you are the parent of a victim, you may be wondering how to pursue justice and compensation. Here is a basic rundown:

Cheerleader Abuse is All Too Common in the United States

Recently, the nation has been rocked by a number of cheerleader sexual abuse scandals. On May 11, 2023, it was reported that a cheerleading coach in Orange County was charged with molesting young girls. Some of these cheerleaders were as young as 11 years old. The former coach was extradited back to California after being tracked down in North Dakota; he was then held without bail.

The abuse occurred while he was serving as a coach at the Magic All-Stars Club, which is a competitive cheer club in California. He also spent time as an assistant cheer coach while at Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo during the 2000s. During this time, he sexually abused numerous girls between the ages of 11 and 16. As a result, he is now facing 16 felony counts, including committing lewd acts on a child. He faces a potential life sentence. Much of this abuse was digital in nature. In Florida, he exposed himself during a FaceTime call with three girls aged 11 to 13.

On June 21, 2023, it was reported that the companies Varsity Brands and Varsity Spirit were facing negligence lawsuits from a dozen former youth cheerleaders. These lawsuits first emerged in 2022, when at least 20 cheerleaders alleged abuse while cheering at these organizations. These cheerleaders hailed from six different states, including California. Their allegations were shocking, and the cheerleaders claimed that they had been the victims of crimes such as rape, illicit drug provision, and child pornography solicitation.

This prompted lawyers to pursue organized crime charges such as RICO – the same charges brought against Harvey Weinstein, the Catholic Church, and other high-profile sex abuse defendants across the nation. The original cheerleader abuse lawsuits stemmed from South Carolina. Rockstar Cheer and Varsity Brands both found themselves in the crosshairs with multiple abuse allegations. Rockstar Cheer was once owned by a married duo until the husband committed suicide amidst investigations into this matter. Among other alleged crimes, the defendants were accused of not conducting adequate background checks on the coaches.

Eventually, the racketeering charges were dropped, but a federal judge ruled that the abused cheerleaders could still file negligence lawsuits against the cheer companies for allowing them to suffer this abuse. The federal judge also wrote that “the coaches sought to prey on minor athletes for their own sexual or personal gratification.” With the success of the lawsuits in South Carolina, other former cheerleaders in California are deciding to stand up and pursue similar lawsuits against the organizations here.

Who Can I Sue for Cheerleader Abuse?

Suing the individual who committed the abuse may not provide much in the way of compensation. This is why the most effective strategy may be to sue the underlying organization instead. While the abuser will almost certainly experience serious criminal consequences for these acts, the organizations behind the abuse can suffer serious financial penalties. Many of these organizations choose to settle the lawsuits out of court – especially when faced with class-action lawsuits. This may make a trial unnecessary.

If the abuse occurred at a high school or any other educational organization, you can sue the school or the school district. Private clubs may also be sued for allowing this abuse to occur.

What Constitutes Cheerleader Abuse?

Cheerleader abuse can occur at all ages, whether it involves elementary students, high school students, college students, or adults performing at various public sporting events. It may be physical, emotional, verbal, or digital in nature. Cheerleader abuse may also take the form of “quid pro quo” harassment, which means “a favor for a favor.” For example, a coach may promise a student a place on the cheerleading squad in return for sexual acts. Even if a cheerleader consents to these sexual acts, it is still considered an illegal form of harassment because the coach is abusing their position of authority and power over the cheerleader. It goes without saying that any sex acts involving minors are always illegal, regardless of the circumstances.

As the previous lawsuits have shown, abuse today often occurs in the digital space. This might involve illicit sexual texts or images being exchanged. In addition to sexual abuse, this may also constitute child pornography. Adult cheerleaders may also suffer sexual abuse, as this crime does not only affect minors or students.

Where Can I Find a Sexual Abuse Lawyer in California?

If you have been searching for a sexual abuse lawyer in California, look no further than Mary Alexander & Associates. With our help, you can strive for justice and fair compensation for the abuse you or your family members have experienced. There is no excuse for abusing cheerleaders, and those responsible for this grave misconduct should be held accountable. Although nothing can ever take back these traumatic experiences, plaintiffs can take action and ensure that this never happens to anyone else. A sexual abuse lawsuit may also provide a sense of closure, perhaps making it easier to move on.

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