South Carolina

CCU cheerleaders were paid up to $1,500 for dates, according to investigation

A criminal investigation report obtained from Coastal Carolina University alleges that some members of the CCU cheer team worked as strippers and escorts.

The entire cheer team has been suspended from cheering due to a pending conduct investigation, but are still permitted to attend class.

According to the investigation report obtained by The Sun News through a Freedom of Information request, cheerleaders involved in the escort services were paid between $100 and $1,500 per date.

Cheerleaders also would receive goods such as Michael Kors purses, as well as shoes and clothes, according to the investigation. One cheerleader was offered $800 to escort a male to New York Prime, according to the report.

The cheerleaders would not engage in sexual favors, the report stated, but the investigation found “evidence of an escort service.”

The cheerleaders ran the operation through the website, according to the report.

Text messages between cheerleaders advised team members working at the strip clubs, including Thee DollHouse, to quit their jobs until after a national cheerleading competition taking place in Dayton Beach, Fla., according to the report.

Amy Lawrence, an attorney who is representing five of the cheerleaders, called the suspension “unprecedented” Thursday morning.

“I am shocked and saddened to see these girls become victims of these baseless claims from an anonymous source,” Lawrence said in a news release. “Even more disheartening is that these girls were not permitted due process in their own defense to show just how outlandish and ridiculous these allegations truly are.”

The investigation found that 11 cheerleaders were aware of the escort service and seven were not aware, CCU reported.

The letter

On March 13, CCU officials including President David DeCenzo, university counsel Timothy Meacham and cheer coaches Marla Sage and Kelly Moore, met to discuss a letter mailed anonymously to DeCenzo’s office that sparked the investigation.

The letter alleged the cheerleaders were engaged in prostitution, stripping, drinking and forcing younger cheerleaders to partake in underage drinking. They were not “accepted” into the team unless they took part, according to the letter.

Investigators were able to get a picture of the person who sent the letter and signed it “a concerned parent.”

The man was white, heavy-set and had “salt and pepper-colored hair.”

His identity has not yet been determined.

According to the anonymous letter, “several girls” have quit the team “due to these disgusting issues.”

The letter writer lists six allegations. He alleges: 1. Several girls are working at local strip clubs and also prostitute themselves out. 2. Several cheerleaders pay students to do their school work. 3. A veteran cheerleader hosted a party where several underage cheerleaders were caught drinking. 4. A few girls use illegal drugs, “especially smoking pot.” 5. A few of the girls provide alcohol to minors. 6. Cheerleaders buy alcohol with a fake ID and provide it to other cheerleaders and other students.

Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian

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