Wake County cheerleaders suspended from competition following allegations of sexual harassment; online petition has started

Posted: Nov 3, 2022 / 06:14 PM m. EDT

Updated: Nov 4, 2022 / 06:34 AM m. EDT

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some parents in Wake County are upset that their children won’t be able to compete in certain cheerleading competitions, but authorities say it’s because of allegations of sexual abuse.

A lawsuit alleging sexual abuse at various cheerleading gyms across the country is now forcing some in Wake County to sit out some competitions.

The Strom law firm filed a federal lawsuit last week, representing a boy who said he was molested by coaches at Cheer Extreme in Raleigh. Some of those coaches were associated with the Varsity Spirit, a national cheerleading organization.

It’s one of several lawsuits alleging abuse by trainers associated with the group.

Varsity Spirit released a statement saying the reports of abuse are “incredibly disturbing.”

Cheer Extreme in Raleigh also released a statement.

We are surprised and extremely disappointed that Cheer Extreme Raleigh was named in a lawsuit filed by an anonymous plaintiff in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Cheer Extreme Raleigh strongly disputes the allegations made in the lawsuit against our company.

Cheer Extreme Raleigh coaches are subject to background checks and must complete a series of required trainings. We hold open practices and welcome parent attendance. Additionally, Cheer Extreme Raleigh has reporting mechanisms, including a hotline, where parents or athletes can raise concerns, which are promptly investigated.

We keep survivors of any type of abuse in our prayers as they navigate their healing. The safety of our athletes has been and always will be our main concern. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that Cheer Extreme facilities are among the most compliant youth-serving organizations in the country.

Since the lawsuit, the Wake County Public School System has prohibited athletes from participating in competition under Varsity Spirit.

Since then, an online petition by an anonymous person has gathered more than 300 signatures, urging the school to allow the athletes to compete.

“This is unfair and unfair as we have followed all the established rules and worked too hard all season to simply not go,” the petition reads in part.

CBS 17 contacted WCPSS but has not heard back.

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