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Cheerleader's parents file suit

The parents of a teen accused of supplying alcohol at a cheerleading camp are now suing to clear his name and for thousands of dollars.

Published December 5, 2003

DADE CITY - Parents of a male cheerleader kicked off the Pasco High School cheering squad this summer filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging a conspiracy and seeking an apology and thousands of dollars.

The lawsuit, filed in Circuit Court, claims Pasco High principal Pat Reedy misled the student's parents during the appeal process and says the School Board violated the student's rights and the school system's own rules.

John and Diana Madison say their 17-year-old son, Johnathan, was the target of a conspiracy by at least some of the female cheerleaders who wanted him off the squad. Johnathan was the only male cheerleader on the team at the start of the school year.

The family lost its final appeal before the School Board on Tuesday and have now turned to the courts.

School Board attorney Dennis Alfonso said Thursday he was not surprised by the lawsuit, but he did not see any wrongdoing on the part of the school system.

The School Board ordered Johnathan to begin serving either a 10-day out-of-school suspension or a three-day in-school suspension with alcohol counseling beginning Monday.

The allegations stem from a July 23 cheerleading camp at the University of South Florida. Some of the girls at the camp reported that other girls had alcohol, and some pointed to Johnathan as the supplier. Coaches searched his room and did not find alcohol, and Johnathan continues to deny that he played any role.

His mother, a freelance commercial makeup artist, and his father, an electrical contractor, say they will stand by their son and have already spent thousands on investigators and court reporters to chronicle the appeal process.

The Madisons' attorney, Brad Tobin of St. Petersburg, included with the lawsuit two reports from independent polygraph experts - one a former FBI member - indicating Johnathan is telling the truth.

Private investigator Roy Pierce questioned 20 cheerleaders, finding only one who accuses Johnathan. Several of the others Pierce interviewed discredit that girl's statements, Pierce reported.

"The Madisons believe that approximately four to five cheerleaders wished to have Johnathan removed from the cheering squad," Tobin wrote in the lawsuit. "Not surprisingly, some of the cheerleaders who had been caught and admitted to drinking at the camp were the same girls that had also voiced their displeasure with Johnathan being on the squad and were now accusing Johnathan of bringing the alcohol."

Johnathan, a senior, is considering a career in law enforcement and says he worries about the effect an alcohol violation could have on his career someday.

The lawsuit demands his school record be cleared and says his hopes of landing a cheering scholarship to college have been dashed because he was removed from the team. It also demands unspecified financial payments above the $15,000 threshold required to bring the case to Circuit Court.

Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper denied Tobin's request Thursday that Johnathan's suspension be immediately blocked, but set a one-hour hearing for Dec. 12.

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