The college that was seen on Cheer, the Netflix docuseries following the cheer team in Texas, is once again in the news.
Navarro College, with head coach Monica Aldama (who became known following the aforementioned show on the streaming service and went on to compete on Dancing With the Stars), director of athletics Michael Landers, Title IX coordinator Elizabeth Pillans, and the person accused named, is being sued for allegedly concealing a student’s sexual assault in fall 2021, Entertainment Weekly reports after reading a complaint filed on April 26.
According to the lawsuit, the student is accusing one of the male members of the cheer squad, invited over by her roommate when she was sleeping, of climbing into her bed. She said, according to the report, “that she tried to call for help and eventually was able to push him away.”
She also claimed that among those who told her not to give a report of what happened were Aldama (allegedly saying “If you keep quiet, I’ll make sure you can cheer anywhere you want”), members of the squad (with one allegedly saying “drink it off and get your mind off of it” and “that’s what Navarro girls do — they drink. We don’t tell anyone. We just keep it to our self.”), campus police, and Pillans.
Aldama said in a statement to EW that she’s “heartbroken by the false allegations made against me” and her “main concern” is her students’ health and safety. “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,” she continued. “As an athletics coach and Navarro College employee, I take all Title IX matters very seriously, especially reports of sexual misconduct.”
Aldama went on to describe herself as “a rules follower” and someone who follows protocols when it comes to situations like the one above. “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,” she added.
Navarro College also issued a statement saying it prioritizes students’ health and safety and has protocols for accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault and denying “any allegations of wrongdoing.” Both the college and Aldama noted that due to the lawsuit, those were their only comments.
Cheer released two seasons on Netflix, in January 2020 and two years later in 2022. It was in September 2020 that Jerry Harris was sued, then arrested for the alleged sexual abuse of minors, and the second season did address his arrest. In February 2022, Harris pleaded guilty to child pornography charges, then, in July of that year, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for soliciting sex and pornographic photos and videos from minors. In September 2020, Aldama wrote on Instagram, “My heart is shattered into a million pieces… I’m praying hard for the victims and everyone affected.”