Netflix ‘Cheer’ cast member won’t face sexual assault charge in court

·3 min read

A grand jury has declined to indict Mitchell Ryan, a cast member of the popular docuseries “Cheer” who in February was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, according to the Dallas County district attorney’s office.

Ryan, a former member of the Navarro College cheer team featured on the Netflix show, was arrested in February after a cheerleader told authorities Ryan had invited her to his apartment to practice cheer stunts — when she was 15 and he was 23 — then forcibly assaulted her, according to the teen’s mother. Ryan’s attorney, Jeremy Rosenthal, in a statement said he sought to clear Ryan’s name in court by sharing "lengthy personal, private, and precise details with the authorities."

A grand jury has declined to indict Mitchell Ryan, a cast member of the popular docuseries "Cheer", who in February was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.
A grand jury has declined to indict Mitchell Ryan, a cast member of the popular docuseries "Cheer", who in February was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.

"Mitch will now go about the business of putting his life back together," he said.

Shannon Huckaba, the Texas mother whose now 16-year-old daughter accused Ryan of abuse, said her daughter was devastated by the grand jury’s Friday decision, calling the weekend "pure hell." The decision, first reported by the Dallas Morning News, means the grand jury did not believe there was enough evidence to prosecute the case against Ryan. Huckaba said she is seeking other options for legal recourse.

"I am not giving up on some type of retribution for my daughter," she said.

Though no longer facing criminal charges, the 24-year-old Ryan is still under temporary suspension by the U.S. All Star Federation (USASF) and USA Cheer, the sport's two governing bodies. HIs case is one of several USASF has been accused of mishandling, part of a spate of criticism over how the organization has addressed child abuse within the sport.

Though USASF officials learned of the allegations against Ryan in October, the organization did not suspend him until February, when USA TODAY reported on his arrest. USASF officials have said that after receiving a complaint against Ryan, they ensured the allegation had been reported to law enforcement and "later began an investigation of our own." They did not explain why the organization waited more than three months to suspend Ryan.

USASF has since hired a consultant to take over investigation of sexual misconduct complaints. The organization did not respond to a request for comment on the status of Ryan’s suspension.

Ryan is one of several cast members from “Cheer” to face charges related to sexual misconduct involving minors.

Jerry Harris, a former member of the Navarro team and a breakout star from the series, was arrested last year and accused of soliciting nude photos and sex from minors. Harris, 22, has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges and is being held at a correctional center in Illinois awaiting trial.

Robert Scianna Jr., 26, a celebrity cheerleader who appeared in one episode of the show, was arrested the same week as Ryan and charged with felony counts of attempted indecent liberties with a child and using an electronic communication device to solicit sex, according to police and court records. Scianna pleaded guilty in the case last month, according to Virginia court records. He has not yet been sentenced.

Tricia L. Nadolny and Marisa Kwiatkowski are reporters on USA TODAY’s national investigative team. Tricia can be reached tnadolny@usatoday.com or @TriciaNadolny. Marisa can be reached at mkwiatko@usatoday.com, @byMarisaK or by phone, Signal or WhatsApp at (317) 207-2855.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Netflix ‘Cheer’ cast member won’t face sexual assault charge in court