Attorney responds to CCU report that alleges cheerleaders operated escort service

Attorney responds to CCU report that alleges cheerleaders operated escort service

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – An attorney representing several Coastal Carolina University cheerleaders fired back after an investigative report released Thursday alleged that some team members operated an escort service, worked at strip clubs and were "prostituting themselves."

Amy Lawrence, an attorney representing several members of the cheerleading team, released a statement Thursday night that said, in part:

I am disgusted and angered that Coastal Carolina University has released an incomplete investigation to the media that paints the women of the Cheerleading Team as prostitutes with the broadest of strokes. This goes to the heart of what is wrong with the University and its inadequate treatment of women, not only in sports but on campus.

Lawrence went on to add that her understanding was the investigation into the allegations, which surfaced in an anonymous letter sent to CCU President David DeCenzo on March 7, encompassed interviews and searches subsequent to warrants.

"Yet no one has been charged, no arrests have been made and a lot of really wonderful, kind, smart women have been smeared in the public eye yet again, at the hand of the University they love and their parents entrusted their wellbeing," the statement read.

Lawrence asked if something like this would ever happen to a "male sports team," noting instances of CCU male athletes being accused of drugs, domestic violence and rape.

"Coastal Carolina needs to take a very long hard look at how they inappropriately treat women across the board," the statement said.

Click here to read the full response from attorney Amy Lawrence.

Earlier Thursday, Lawrence called the accusations of prostitution and other misconduct "baseless claims from an anonymous source," and claimed the team members were not permitted due process in their own defense.

On Thursday, WMBF News received a copy of the investigative report through a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to that report, CCU Police Chief David Roper met with DeCenzo, as well as other university officials, about the anonymous letter on March 13.

Then, on March 20, CCU investigators reportedly received additional anonymous information in the form of a text conversation between two students, one of them a former CCU cheerleader.

"In the text messages, the former cheerleader said that 'escort service is real," the report stated.

The report went on to say that, through interviews with former and current CCU cheerleaders, investigators revealed that some of the allegations in the March 7 letter were true.

"The girls did not use their real names and worked through a website called 'Seeking," the report stated. "My investigation also confirmed that escorts were paid between $100 and $1,500 a date. The escorts also received payment in the form of gifts such as clothes, shoes and designer handbags."

According to the investigative report, the anonymous letter was mailed from Carolina Forest Post Office by a "white, male, heavy set" person.

Attempts to identify the person continue, the report stated.

Last week, the cheerleading team was suspended indefinitely pending a conduct investigation.

The complete report can be read below. WARNING: There is graphic language.

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