“Cheer” Coach Monica Aldama Attempted to Cover Up Sexual Assault, Lawsuit Alleges

Monica Aldama, head cheerleading coach at Navarro College and star of Netflix’s popular “Cheer” series, is named in a civil lawsuit filed in a Dallas federal court, which claims that Aldama, along with other members of the Navarro cheerleading squad and staff members at the college, discouraged the plaintiff, a former Navarro College cheerleader, from reporting a sexual assault. The other defendants named in the suit include the male cheerleader accused of perpetrating the sexual assault, Navarro College, located in Corsicana, Texas, and two college administrators, whom the plaintiff claims failed to take action against the perpetrator of the assault and failed to “halt and implement policies against the culture of sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual hostility, and violence of Navarro Cheer.”

Sexual Assault, Misconduct on College Campuses

With increased awareness about the pervasive issue of sexual assault and sexual misconduct in athletics and on college campuses nationwide, a growing number of lawsuits have been filed recently against alleged perpetrators of sexual assault, as well as coaches accused of overlooking or failing to report instances of sexual assault to the authorities, and the institutions that allowed such assaults to continue, took steps to cover them up, or failed to take appropriate action against the alleged perpetrators. According to allegations raised in this latest college sexual assault lawsuit, the plaintiff, a female cheerleader on the Navarro College squad, was sexually assaulted in her dorm room on campus in 2021, by a male member of the cheerleading squad. 

The plaintiff states in her sexual assault complaint that when she told other “veteran” cheerleaders on the squad about the alleged assault, they urged her not to report it to Aldama and had two male cheerleaders follow her around to keep her from doing so. When she told her longtime boyfriend, he reportedly came to the campus with friends, got into an argument with male members of the Navarro cheer squad, and was ultimately barred from the grounds by campus police. As the plaintiff and her boyfriend left in a car, the male cheerleaders allegedly followed them, pointed guns at them, and “threatened to kill them for reporting the assault.”

The plaintiff then went to head coach Monica Aldama to report the sexual assault. Aldama allegedly said that she would help the plaintiff’s cheerleading career if she did not report the assault, telling 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 [if you don’t report it].” The lawsuit also alleges that after the plaintiff quit the team following her initial interaction with Aldama, Aldama told the plaintiff, “If you keep quiet, I’ll make sure you can cheer anywhere you want.” The plaintiff further states in her complaint that campus police also discouraged her from reporting the sexual assault, telling her that “this type of thing happens all the time.” 

Navarro Cheer Named in Recent Sexual Assault Lawsuits

The sexual assault lawsuit against Aldama and Navarro is one of several recent complaints involving the college’s cheerleading squad. In September 2020, “Cheer” star and former Navarro cheerleader Jerry Harris was accused of sexually abusing twin teenage brothers and demanding that they send him nude photos and videos of themselves. Harris was later arrested for allegedly producing, requesting, and using child pornography – a federal offense – and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. 

In this latest lawsuit, Monica Aldama and the Navarro College staff are accused of fostering a campus environment “rife with sexual assault and lacking the basic standards of support for victims as required by state and federal law.” In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Aldama stated that she is “heartbroken by the false allegations made against me” and “would never remain silent, or ask any student to remain silent, if I were aware that any sexual misconduct occurred in the Cheer program.” 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.”

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