A lawsuit filed in U.S. district court in Texas has shaken the competitive cheer world to its core – again. The latest allegations were leveled against the Navarro College cheer team in Corsicana, Texas and its legendary coach – Monica Aldama. Both Navarro and Aldama were featured in the hit documentary series ‘Cheer,’ which premiered on Netflix in 2020 and has run for two seasons.
Navarro’s status as the number one junior college cheerleading program in America has solidified the school’s reputation within the competitive cheer community. The team has won fifteen national championships since 2000. Last April, the Bulldogs secured their fifteenth title – and sixth grand national championship.
“We love to line up the trophies and see how many we have, but it’s about that feeling of achievement that comes with all those moments throughout the entire year,” Aldama told Inside Cheerleading last summer.
According to the lawsuit, though, the school’s success has come at a steep price. Filed on behalf of former Navarro athlete Madi Lane, the complaint alleges a culture of sexual assault and institutional cover-up – recurring themes in many of the prior lawsuits filed over the past year within the competitive cheerleading industry.
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Graphic details of the assault were included in the complaint.
“(Lane) screamed at Salvo to stop, and tried to keep him from removing her clothes, but Salvo continued,” the lawsuit alleged. “He pulled her shirt up and groped her chest and then inserted his fingers into her vagina. (Lane) continued to scream at Salvo to stop. Eventually she was able to turn her body and push him away. She told him that he needed to leave, and he left the dorm.”
Lane claims to have confided details of the alleged assault to multiple team members the following day – only to be encouraged to come with them to a different party. At that gathering, the Navarro team’s unofficial captain – Madi Brum – allegedly pulled her aside and asked her what happened.
“You just need to drink it off and get your mind off of it … that’s what Navarro girls do – they drink,” Brum is alleged to have told Lane. “We don’t tell anyone. We just keep it to (ourselves).”
Brum allegedly implored Lane not to tell Aldama – or anyone else – about the assault because there was “no reason to stress her out” and if the incident were reported, the school would cut the cheer program and “everyone would know why and hate her.”
Shortly thereafter, Brum told Lane she needed to have a conversation with Amico so the two of them could “talk it out like adults,” according to the lawsuit. She proceeded to assign two male cheerleaders – Joshua Stamper and Stace Artigue – to accompany Lane to Amico’s room. During this conversation, Lane claimed Amico apologized to her for the assault.
“Brum then instructed Stamper and Artigue to escort Lane everywhere to ensure that she did not report the assault,” the lawsuit alleged.
Lane didn’t keep quiet, though. She told her boyfriend, Tristan Marsh, about what allegedly happened to her – and he encouraged her to report it to the proper authorities.
That’s when things got dicey, according to the lawsuit. When Marsh accompanied Lane to her dorm room to help her collect her belongings, he found Antigue guarding Amico’s door. Antigue allegedly called campus police and claimed Marsh assaulted him. When police arrived, they ordered Marsh to leave the property. As Lane and Marsh left the campus, they noticed a car following them. Inside the vehicle they reported seeing Ty Johnson, Robert Stone and several veteran Navarro cheerleaders – some of whom pointed guns at them and threatened to kill them for reporting the assault.
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When Lane called her coach to report the assault, Aldama allegedly cut her off – and attempted to negotiate her silence.
“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.”
Several days later, when Lane formally quit the cheer team, coach Aldama told her, “If you keep quiet, I’ll make sure you can cheer anywhere you want,” the lawsuit alleged.
Lane received a similarly disheartening response when she reported the case to local law enforcement authorities.
“The police discouraged her from (reporting the assault), and informed her that this type of thing happens all the time, that she can report the assault, but that nothing will happen because nothing ever happens,” the lawsuit claimed.
Lane reported the assault anyway. She also filed a report with Navarro College’s Title IX office. However, Title IX coordinator Elizabeth Pillans is said to have told Lane the office did not have the proper paperwork for processing sexual assault allegations – adding “a public hearing is always embarrassing and does more harm to the victim than good.”
When Lane’s family followed up with the Title IX office, Pillans informed them there was no record of any sexual assault – referring only to “allegations.” She then grilled Lane’s family about video footage of one her friends stealing an energy drink, according to the suit.
The allegations made in the Texas lawsuit are not the first time Navarro College has been in the spotlight for sexual abuse. In September 2020, former Navarro cheer athlete Jerry Harris was arrested on a child pornography charge – and in December 2020 he was indicted for soliciting sex and explicit photos from minors at cheerleading competitions. Harris pleaded guilty and was sentenced to twelve years in prison.
As FITSNews has extensively reported in our Cheer Incorporated (Apple, Spotify) podcast, a coverup culture has enabled widespread institutional sex abuse scandals within the competitive cheer industry – leading to a phalanx of lawsuits in multiple states.
Those lawsuits began to appear nearly seven months ago following the spectacular implosion of Greenville, S.C.-based Rockstar Cheer. The gym became the epicenter of the Cheer Incorporated scandal on August 22, 2022 when its late owner and founder, Scott Foster, died by suicide. The day after Foster’s death hit the news, our news outlet reported the 49-year-old coach was staring down “a multi-jurisdictional investigation into (among other things) allegations of sexual misconduct with underage girls.”
We quickly learned it wasn’t just girls. And it wasn’t just Foster. And most importantly … it wasn’t just Rockstar.
Count on FITSNews to keep our readers informed of the latest developments in this story – including any responses we receive from Amico, Aldama, Pillans and Navarro College. As our readers are aware, we also have an open microphone policy which affords these named defendants – and anyone with an intelligent perspective on this matter – the opportunity to share their views with our audience.
THE LAWSUIT …
(Via: U.S. District Court)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Jenn Wood is FITSNews’ incomparable research director. She’s also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she’s married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at email@example.com.
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