Twin cheerleaders from Texas filed a lawsuit Monday alleging their coach sexually abused them seven years ago in two gyms where they trained, a report said.
Hannah and Jessica Gerlacher, now 22, claimed in the civil suit filed in Travis County that former coach Jason McCartney started to abuse them at Cheer Athletics locations in Plano and Frisco after Hannah suffered an injury, NBC DFW reported.
“What happened to Hannah and Jessica as minors is inexcusable. They’ve had to deal with a lot of pain and trauma that they’ve had to hide,” Andrew Dao, an attorney for the twins, told the outlet.
The women, who have more than 66,000 followers on Instagram, said they came forward with the allegations to encourage others to speak up if they have faced sexual abuse.
They are seeking $10 million in damages.
McCartney is still coaching cheerleading at Cheer Athletics’ Austin location, according to the report, and could not be reached for comment from the news station.
In his online bio posted to the Cheer Athletics website, McCartney says he strives to provide a safe environment for the athletes he coaches.
“I want to be able to create a place that provides opportunity, growth, positivity, and experiences,” the post says.
“A safe place for young people to authentically be themselves. A place without judgment or fear, a home away from home,” it continues.
Jody Melton, a representative of Cheer Athletics, told NBC DFW that the organization is investigating the allegations and said the company had not been made aware of them “during [the Gerlachers] years as athletes or in the nearly six years since they left the program.
“Cheer Athletics remains steadfast in its commitment to athlete safety, including any improper contact between athletes and coaches and has an established track record of taking swift action to address such allegations, including making mandatory reports to law enforcement,” Melton said.
“Cheer Athletics will continue its investigation into the Gerlachers’ allegations as more information is provided, and will vigorously defend itself to the extent any such claims are found to be without merit.”