Lawsuit: New Mexico cheerleaders took nude video of teammate
By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
Mar. 21, 2017
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Cheerleaders at an Albuquerque high school took photos and video of a nude teammate then posted those images on social media before coaches told the targeted girl it was a joke and she should "get over it," according to a lawsuit now in federal court.
The lawsuit, which moved to U.S. District Court in Albuquerque last week, alleges cheerleaders at West Mesa High School used a coach's smartphone to capture images of the 15-year-old teammate taking a shower during a 2015 cheerleading camp in Phoenix.
The teammates then made fun of the girl's body and posted a video on Snapchat, court documents said.
According to the lawsuit, the cheerleading coach told the girl "to apologize to the teammates for overreacting to a joke," and that none of the cheerleaders would face discipline because the coach didn't want to "ruin the trip for everybody."
Monica Armenta, a spokeswoman for Albuquerque Public School, said the district couldn't comment on pending litigation, but the coach is no longer employed at the school.
The lawsuit said the coach refused to cooperate with Phoenix police who tried to investigate the matter and the girl repeatedly was bullied for complaining about the photos until she quit the squad.
School official would only let the girl transfer from West Mesa High School after her parents signed a waiver forfeiting all claims against the district, the lawsuit said.
The girl's family is seeking an undisclosed amount in punitive damages and attorney's fee for violating the girl's Constitutional rights and for conspiracy to interfere with civil rights.
The Albuquerque case comes days after the Democratic-controlled New Mexico Senate let a proposed hazing bill die in the Legislature's final hours. The proposal, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Monica Youngblood, of Albuquerque, would have required all school districts to inform students and parents of their rights against hazing and how to respond to cyberbullying under state law.
Another bill adding more penalties for hazing also died.
The Albuquerque case also is the latest in a series of alleged cyberbullying episodes garnering national attention. Earlier this month, a Texas man and his girlfriend were indicted on charges arising from the cyberbullying of the man's teen ex-girlfriend until her suicide.
The Seattle Office for Civil Rights also recently set up a new hotline to report threats, slurs, intimidation and cyberbullying in the city.
Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/russell-contreras .