Cheer

Hannah and Jessica Gerlacher address reporters in a Monday press conference. 

Two twin sisters in the Collin County cheerleading community have filed a civil complaint alleging sexual assault at two local cheerleading gyms from a coach starting when they were 15 years old. 

The suit alleges that Jason McCartney, a coach who worked at Cheer Athletics’ Plano and Frisco facilities at the time of the purported crimes, committed sexual assault, assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress against plaintiffs Hannah and Jessica Gerlacher, whose names are being released in this report since both have publicly leveled the allegations through a press conference and prepared statement.

The 13-page complaint also said McCartney and co-defendants Cheer Athletics, Cheer Athletics Plano, Cheer Athletics Frisco, Cheer Athletics Holdings and United States All Star Federation (USASF) breached their duty of reasonable care for Hannah and Jessica through various causes of action, including negligence, gross negligence, negligent supervision and vicarious liability. More specifically, the plaintiff’s counsel alleges that McCartney’s co-defendants neglected to take any action after a September 2020 report was filed against him, aside from “simply [burying] it.”

Cheer Athletics said in its statement that the September 2020 report was "somewhat vague and also unclear as to when and where these events occurred," but was nonetheless the subject of an investigation where the company "was not able to corroborate any of the allegations."

“Defendants’ actions have changed plaintiff’s lives,” the complaint said. “Plaintiffs will have to live with the deep-rooted mental trauma. Plaintiffs frequently attend counseling sessions to manage the trauma. Plaintiffs also take antidepressants.”

In a Monday statement, Cheer Athletics said it “remains steadfast in its commitment to athlete safety, including any improper contact between athletes and coaches and has an established track records of taking swift action to address such allegations, including making mandatory reports to law enforcement.” The statement added, “Mr. McCartney adamantly denies any wrongdoing of a sexual nature or otherwise in his dealings with the Gerlachers.”

USASF also addressed the allegations in a statement Monday, saying, “We deplore any instance of sexual misconduct or harassment of our members, and we have taken significant steps to respond to reports of misconduct and to make it clear that there is no place for sexual predators in the cheer and dance community.

“USASF treats reports received about allegations of sexual misconduct or harassment as confidential, and we do not comment on litigation.”

The plaintiffs’ attorneys, Michelle Simpson Tuegel and Andrew Dao, issued a press release in which it cited a USA Today report connecting USASF to approximately 180 allegations and confirmed cases of child sexual abuse that were not met with job terminations. It also cited former Cheer Athletics affiliate Jerry Harris’s September 2020 arrest for child sexual exploitation and production of child pornography and said that the company “continued to post supportive comments regarding Harris” after learning about the allegations. Cheer Athletics said earlier that while Harris was never an employee for the company, it nonetheless reported the allegations to law enforcement and USASF after being made aware of them in May 2020.

But unlike Harris, who pleaded not guilty to both aforementioned counts, McCartney is not currently facing criminal charges.  

“There is [a criminal] investigation going on, but we can’t comment on it further because that is up to law enforcement and the [District Attorney]’s office,” Tuegel said to Star Local Media.

This story is developing.

Audrey Henvey contributed to this report

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