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Navarro cheerleader accuses ‘Cheer’ coach Monica Aldama of attempting to keep sexual assault claim quiet

By Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

A former cheerleader on the Navarro College cheerleading squad has filed a civil lawsuit in a Dallas federal court, accusing Monica Aldama, head coach and star of Netflix’s popular “Cheer” series, of discouraging her from reporting a sexual assault, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by CNN.

Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas and two college administrators are also named as defendants in the suit, which accuses them of failing to take action against the perpetrator of the assault — who is also named in the filing– and failing to “halt and implement policies against the culture of sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual hostility, and violence of Navarro Cheer.”

The suit claims that the plaintiff was sexually assaulted in her on-campus dorm room in 2021 by a male member of the Navarro cheer squad.

When the plaintiff attempted to report the incident to Aldama, the suit alleges Aldama told her “let’s not make this a big deal. I want what’s best for you and I will help you cheer wherever you want.”

Aldama also allegedly told the plaintiff, “if you keep quiet, I’ll make sure you can cheer anywhere you want” when she quit the team days after her initial call with the head coach. The suit also outlines alleged interactions the plaintiff had with “veteran” members of the squad who are accused of intimidation tactics and of similarly discouraging her from reporting the alleged assault.

According to the claim, campus police also “discouraged” the plaintiff from reporting the alleged attack and informed her that “this type of thing happens all the time.”

CNN has reached out to Aldama for comment.

In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Aldama said she is “heartbroken by the false allegations made against me.”

“As the Navarro Cheer coach, the health and safety of the students I coach is my main concern. I have worked year after year to make sure Navarro Cheer is a safe space for all cheerleaders. We do not condone or cover-up reports of sexual harassment and assault. As an athletics coach and Navarro College employee, I take all Title IX matters very seriously, especially reports of sexual misconduct. I am a rules follower. I always follow all appropriate procedures regarding reporting and responding to any allegations of misconduct in the Navarro Cheer program. I make sure to report, and encourage others to report, any allegations of harassment, discrimination, or assault to appropriate authorities and officials. I would never remain silent, or ask any student to remain silent, if I were aware that any sexual misconduct occurred in the Cheer program. Because there is a pending lawsuit against me, I have no further comment at this time.”

A representative for Navarro college said in a statement to CNN that “the College denies any allegations of wrongdoing and is prepared to vigorously defend itself in court.”

“The safety and welfare of students is always of utmost priority. Navarro College prohibits sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against all students and is deeply committed to providing an educational environment free from sex discrimination and sexual assault. The College has established robust policies and procedures for reporting, investigating, and responding to all allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Navarro College takes every report of sexual harassment and sexual assault seriously and acts swiftly to provide an appropriate response to protect all students,” the statement continued.

Also noted in the suit is a series of interactions the plaintiff had with a “veteran” Navarro cheerleader, who allegedly told the plaintiff that she should just “drink it off and get your mind off of it” because “that’s what Navarro girls do — they drink. We don’t tell anyone. We just keep it to our self.”

The plaintiff also accuses the same veteran cheerleader, who is not a defendant in the lawsuit, of instructing two male members of the squad to “escort” her around to “ensure that she did not report the assault,” and encouraging her not to not bring the allegations to Aldama or authorities because the school would cut the Navarro Cheer program.

A member of Navarro College’s elite cheer squad has faced legal allegations before.

In 2020, former Navarro cheerleader Jerry Harris was charged in a seven-count indictment that was filed in US District Court in northern Illinois. Harris pleaded guilty in February 2022 to one count each of receiving child pornography and engaging in sexual acts with a minor and is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence.

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