Federal lawsuit filed against Central Florida cheerleading coach accused of child molestation

CLERMONT, Fla. — A teenager who says her former cheerleading coach in Clermont sexually abused her filed a new federal lawsuit this week.


The suit names Vigiland D’Haiti’s now-closed gym and two cheerleading groups.

This comes after a federal judge sentenced D’Haiti to 29 years in prison last week for coercing another child to make sexually-explicit content.

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The teen says she filed the suit because she wants cheerleading to be a safe sport. She says what happened to her when she was 15 could have been avoided if there was oversight.

The suit claims World Cheer Center, which D’Haiti owned with his wife Kelly, failed to protect the athletes. It also claims the United States All Star Federation and Varsity Spirit, ignored reports and allegations of abuse.

“There are no background checks. There are no ways to make sure that policies and procedures are being enforced. There are no ways to make sure that somebody isn’t from year to year being picked up for a sex offense that involves kids,” said Jessica Arbour, attorney representing the teen’s family.

The suit says those companies prioritized money over safety.

“These are pretty big failings, if you have 20 girls saying that they’ve been sexually abused over the course of a decade,” Arbour said.

The child, referred to as Jane Doe in the suit, began training with Vigiland D’Haiti at World Cheer Center when she was 10 years old.

The lawsuit alleges that six years later, in September 2021, D’Haiti began began sexually abusing her during their one-on-one coaching sessions--inappropriately touched her breasts and buttocks weekly-sometimes “twice a week”.

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She says abuse continued until she told her parents, and they alerted Clermont Police.

“What the parents did not know when they signed her up for lessons in 2015, is by that point, it is alleged that Vigiland D’Haiti was already sexually abusing the girls at the World Cheer Center,” Arbour said.

Clermont Police told Channel 9 when D’Haiti was first arrested that the allegations of abuse date back to 2013.

The lawsuit says there were allegations made by at least four different girls between 2017 and 2020 that were reported to police departments or the Department of Children and Family Services that D’Haiti sexually abused or exploited them.

“And yet nothing was ever told to my client or her parents about the risk of harm that this man posed to her or anyone else at the gym,” Arbour said.

The child, who is now 17, is calling for the USASF and Varsity Spirit to require yearly audits on coaches and cheer companies.

We reached out to all companies listed in the suit. Varsity Spirit responded with this statement:

“First and foremost, our concern is for the survivors and their families. Varsity Spirit strongly condemns Vigiland D’Haiti’s actions and fully supports the victims’ pursuit of justice against the individual responsible for the harm they have suffered. However, any attempt to affix blame on Varsity Spirit is misguided and unsupported by the facts. Varsity Spirit did not own or operate the gym where D’Haiti coached. Furthermore, the USASF is an independent, not-for-profit body. Varsity Spirit intends to strongly defend itself in this litigation.”

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Jane Doe said since she came forward with allegations in December 2021, she’s been shamed by people she thought were her friends. She said in a statement, “Victim blaming and shaming is a real issue. No one deserves to be abused.”

Her parents said in a statement, “The feeling of absolute betrayal because you trusted that coach with your child is overwhelming. Worse still, we witnessed the onslaught of victim shaming and condemnation of our daughter because the abuse was properly reported to authorities. Hearing and reading the hateful things posted on social media about our daughter made part of our souls die. It is heartbreaking to see your child shrink into herself more each day as she is bullied, shamed, and despised because she reported what happened to her, and as it turns out, so many others. She is just a child, and she did nothing wrong.”

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