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Former Navarro cheerleader claims sexual assault cover-up in suit against college, coaches

'Cheer' cheerleader files lawsuit claiming sexual assault cover-up
'Cheer' cheerleader files lawsuit claiming sexual assault cover-up 02:26

CORSICANA (CBSNewsTexas) - A former cheerleader for Navarro College says she was sexually assaulted by a fellow, male cheerleader in September 2021 and has filed a lawsuit.

The Bulldogs squad is considered legendary by many in the cheerleading world, its notoriety amplified by the Netflix docuseries "Cheer," which ran for two seasons.

Allegations detailed in the 20-page lawsuit filed in a Dallas court include: an overall culture of abuse, violence, hazing, and cover-ups within the program. It names the cheerleader's alleged attacker, the college and head coach Monica Aldama.

According to the lawsuit, the former cheerleader called Aldama and told her about the assault. 

"Let's not make this a big deal," Aldama said, according to the lawsuit. "I want the best for you and I will help you cheer wherever you want." She then hung up. 

Several days later, when the plaintiff formally quit the cheer team, Aldama repeated what she said during their initial call, "if you keep quiet, I'll make sure you can cheer anywhere you want," the lawsuit alleged.

In the documents obtained by CBS News Texas, the plaintiff said a group of fellow cheerleaders were in her dorm living room while she went to bed. A short while later she claimed her attacker entered her room and bed while she slept and forcefully groped her while she screamed for him to stop. The documents said she eventually pushed him away and he left.

The victim claimed when she tried to report it to team leaders and even the campus police department, they downplayed and even tried to convince her to drop it. The suit said:

Defendants were aware of Navarro cheer's pervasive culture of sexual harassment, sexual violence and intimidation, but rather than report abuse and hold perpetrators accountable, the defendants knowingly, intentionally, and with reckless disregard for the safety of others, turned a blind eye and decidedly failed to investigate and report allegations of misconduct. 

The suit also alleged the college failed to train employees to deal with sexual assault claims.

"The plaintiff suffered a sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination that was so severe, pervasive, objectively offensive that it deprived her of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by Navarro College," the complaint said. 

In a statement to CBS News Texas, the college said: 

Navarro College is aware that a lawsuit was filed yesterday against the college and several employees. 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. 

If you or someone you know was sexually assaulted or raped, click here for help. 

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