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Court OKs booting of cheerleader who wouldn’t cheer for rapist

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Update (12/24/2010): Supreme Court will consider case of a cheerleader who refused to cheer for her alleged rapist

A former Texas cheerleader who was kicked off the squad for refusing to cheer for a basketball player who allegedly raped her is taking her case to the Supreme Court, according to her lawyer.

“The cheerleader and her parents are also challenging federal court rulings that found the suit to be frivolous and ordered them to reimburse the district more than $45,000 in legal costs,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

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Original report continues below…

A former cheerleader did not have the right to refuse to cheer for a man that she claims sexually assaulted her, an appeals court has ruled.

The girl, identified only as H.S. in court documents, claimed that, when she was 16, she was sexually assaulted at a post-game party by two students at Silsbee High School in Beaumont, Texas — Rakheem Bolton and Christian Rountree. The girl said she was assaulted after the two men forced her into a room, locked the door and held her down.

A court declined to indict the men for sexual assault. In September, Bolton pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of Class A Assault. He was sentenced to one year in jail but that sentence was suspended and he will remain free with two years of probation. He was also required to pay a $2,500 fine, complete community service and an anger management course.

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Bolton returned to school and the basketball team for a short time before he ultimately pleaded guilty. During that time, school officials ordered H.S. “to cheer for Bolton when the other cheerleaders cheered or go home,” the First Amendment Center reported.

While H.S. performed all of the other routines, she refused to cheer for Bolton. Cheerleading coach Sissy McInnis then dismissed her from the squad.

H.S.’s parents sued the school, claiming her First Amendment rights had been violated. But her claim was denied by a three judge panel that decided, “in her capacity as cheerleader, H.S. served as a mouthpiece through which (the school district) could disseminate speech — namely, support for its athletic teams.”

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“I didn’t think it was possible for cheerleading to look any less appealing to me — but, thank you, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, for proving me wrong,” wrote Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory.


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