Twin cheerleader stars Hannah and Jessica Gerlacher filed a complaint on Monday alleging that a former coach sexually assaulted them for years from the age of 15.
The sisters, now 22, allege that Jason McCartney, coach of Cheer Athletics, which owns gyms in Texas, Florida and New York, abused them under the pretext of “spotting” – that is, when an athlete is assisted during difficult movements. The Gerlachers allege that McCartney touched their breasts, crotches and butt and pushed his erection against them as he worked out at gyms in the Austin area.
The Gerlachers, who are award-winning competitors turned coaches with more than 65,000 Instagram followers and a popular YouTube channel, also list Cheer Athletics and the US All Star Cheer Federation as accused, accusing them of doing nothing when an anonymous complaint was raised. filed against McCartney.
“The silence surrounding abusive coaches and the failures of gyms like Cheer Athletics and USASF to protect underage athletes must end,” Hannah and Jessica Gerlacher said in a joint statement. “We have gained strength watching women in gymnastics speak out against abuse, and we are here to end a similar culture in the sport of cheerleaders. What they did to us, how it affected us, how we were treated is not right. We didn’t want to feel anything other than love for our sport, but now it’s combined with a feeling of disgust, not only for the way the Coach McCartney used us, but also the way all the other adults let this happen, in a place where we were supposed to feel safe. “
In their lawsuit, the Gerlacher twins claim that McCartney also forced Hannah into the “pro store room of the Cheer Athletics facilities during team trials, an event where parents were specifically prohibited from being in. the gym, “where” he pressed her against the cabinetry. McCartney had one hand on her neck, while her body was pushed against hers.
“Hannah was too scared to make noise as he touched her body,” the lawsuit says.
Cheer Athletics and the USASF did not immediately respond to requests for comment. McCartney could not be reached. The Cheer Athletics Austin site, which lists McCartney as one of the franchise owners, also did not return a request for comment.
The allegations are the latest in a string of scandals to hit competitive cheerleaders, particularly when Netflix star Jerry Harris Applaud, was charged with producing child pornography and inducing a minor to engage in sexual activity. He was arrested after a lawsuit was filed in Texas accusing him of soliciting sex, sending sexually explicit messages and asking for nude photos of two 14-year-old twins who have said he was harassed in cheering contests.
At a press conference announcing the trial, attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel noted Cheer Athletics’ association with the Harris scandal, which is also the result of a damning USA Today investigation that revealed systemic failures in the name of the USASF to protect young competitors. Harris was backed by Cheer Athletics until his co-owner Angela Rogers severed ties with him amid the ongoing scandal.
The Gerlachers seek an unspecified amount in damages for physical pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity and mental anguish.
“We love the sport of cheerleading,” Hannah and Jessica Gerlacher said in their release. “Now that we are role models in sport and train young athletes ourselves, we want better things for children in sport in the future.”